Jonathan Villar leading Brewers’ power surge

Jonathan Villar has hit three home runs this season, one of nine members of the Milwaukee Brewers with at least one.
AP

Thirty-five years after Harvey’s Wallbangers do we need to come up with a nickname for Craig Counsell’s 2017 Milwaukee Brewers?

Early on this season, this year’s Brew Crew is showing they have a propensity for extra-base hits.

Nine Brewers have hit a home run this season — which is the most of any major-league team. Jonathan Villar has three, Ryan Braun and Domingo Santana two and Jett Bandy, Keon Broxton, Nick Franklin, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Travis Shaw and Eric Thames each have one.

Villar, who as noted has three homers this season, has gone deep 20 times since 2016 as a leadoff hitter. Only Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon (31) has more home runs while batting first in a lineup. Villar didn’t hit home run No. 3 last season until game No. 52.

Braun could increase his power output against Cincinnati. Over the last two seasons he has 11 homers against the Reds as well as batting .331 with 24 RBI and 11 steals in 12 attempts. The last time a player had double figures in both homers and steals against an opponent in a two-year span in the majors was I 2010-11 by … Braun, against Pittsburgh (10 HR, 16 SB).

But Milwaukee isn’t just hitting home runs. The Brewers’ slugging percentage is .427, which is sixth in the National League and ninth in Major League Baseball.

Six Brewers with 14 or more plate appearances have a .500 or better slugging percentage (Franklin has 4 PA and a 1.000 SLG).

Player PA SLG%
Jett Bandy 22 .500
Jesus Aguilar 22 .500
Travis Shaw 38 .529
Domingo Santana 31 .538
Eric Thames 25 .591
Manny Pina 14 .571

Other notes:

— Travis Shaw has 22 RBI in April games over the last two seasons, which is fourth-most among MLB third basemen. Cincinnati’s Eugenio Suarez (23) is tied for second.

— Milwaukee’s starter Friday, Jimmy Nelson, is 8-8 with a 3.14 ERA in April and May over his career.

— The Brewers have allowed just six home runs, which is tied for the third-fewest in the majors.

Statistics courtesy STATS and baseball-reference.com