It's been an up-and-down season for the Milwaukee Brewers so far. Finally able to take a breather at the All-Star break, Milwaukee sits 47-44, just 1/2 game behind the Chicago Cubs for first place in the National League Central. The story of this season isn't close to being complete -- remember at this point last year, Milwaukee was in the midst of a seven-game losing streak before catching fire and making a run to the NLCS -- but we're taking the opportunity to distribute a few unofficial midseason awards. Read on:
USA TODAY SportsRobert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sport
MVP – CHRISTIAN YELICH
For those wondering what Yelich could do for an encore after winning the National League MVP last year, he’s probably surpassed even the wildest of expectations. Yelich became the first Brewers player to have 30 home runs by the All-Star break – he has a major-league leading 31, just five short of his total last year – while batting .329 with a .433 on-base percentage and MLB-best .707 slugging percentage (which gives him a 1.140 OPS, also tops in all of baseball). Batting regularly in the two-spot in the Brewers’ lineup, Yelich has 66 runs, 67 RBI and 19 stolen bases. It’s getting hard to spell Yelich without M-V-P.
CY YOUNG AWARD – JOSH HADER
We’re not sure how you feel about a relief pitcher winning this award, but when you have someone as dominant as Hader it’s hard not to hand him the hardware. In 43 innings this season, Hader has allowed just 29 baserunners (15 hits, 13 walks, one hit batter) and struck out 79. That equates to an 0.651 WHIP, 3.1 hits per nine innings (a .106 opponent batting average) and an incredible 16.5 K/9. He’s allowed *four* singles all year. Hader has pitched two or more innings 10 times, has entered in a high-leverage situation in 24 of his 32 appearances and has allowed just three of 20 inherited runners to score. Oh, he also has 20 saves.
TOP ROOKIE – KESTON HIURA
Fans had been waiting for Milwaukee’s top prospect to make the major leagues and in mid-May it finally occurred. Before being sent back down to Triple-A, Hiura showed his bat could play in the bigs, batting .281 with five home runs in his first 17 games. Hiura returned to the Brewers at the end of June and while he’s slumped a little bit, he still owns a slash line of .257/.318/.475 with seven homers in 27 games. It sure seems like he’s here to stay this time.
COMEBACK PLAYER – ZACH DAVIES
After a promising first few years in the majors, Davies’ 2018 was an unmitigated disaster. A combination of ineffectiveness and injuries had him start just 13 games, finishing 2-7 with a 4.77 ERA. One of the questions for the Brewers’ rotation this year was could Davies rebound? He answered that quickly, posting a 1.38 ERA in six April starts and posting wins in his first seven decisions. He had a brief hiccup in late June, but has allowed only one run over 10 1/3 innings in his last two starts. Overall on the season, he has a team-best (among starters) 3.07 ERA and has allowed two or fewer earned runs in 13 of his 18 starts.
USA TODAY SportsJohn Hefti
TOP PROSPECT – TRENT GRISHAM
With Hiura and Maurico Dubon (for now) in the majors, we have to go a little further down the list. While there are some nice, young players at lower levels (Aaron Ashby, Brice Turang), we’re going with the former first-round pick in 2015, back when he was known as Trent Clark. Grisham’s minor-league path has been a rough one after hitting .309 in rookie ball shortly after being drafted. In his next three years he hit .231, .223 and .233 and never had a slugging percentage higher than .348. He’d been moved down to No. 30 in MLB.com’s top prospect rankings for the Brewers. But things started to click this season. The left-handed hitting Grisham, who is still only 22, hit .254/.371/.504 with 13 homers in 63 games for Biloxi before being moved up to Triple-A San Antonio, where he hasn’t let up, slashing .271/.358/.559 with five home runs in 16 games. Few would have guessed this before the season but perhaps we’ll see Grisham in Milwaukee later in 2019.
UNSUNG HERO – BEN GAMEL
Gamel isn’t going to get an All-Star nod like a Mike Moustakas or Brandon Woodruff, players who also could be considered for this award. But every team needs a guy like Gamel, who is unselfish enough to know his role off the bench, can fill in at any three outfield positions (and he has started and subbed in at all three this year) and, when he starts, can slot it anywhere in the lineup (he’s batted first, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and even ninth as a starter). Gamel is hitting only .251 on the season, but the left-handed hitter has been good against southpaws (.316/.426/.421) and his status as fan-favorite is elevated a bit because he’s performed well at Miller Park (.287/.379/416), which included an exciting inside-the-park home run. You might not capture the pennant with a team full of Gamels, but it makes it easier to win it with one.
Benny SieuBenny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
TOP NEWCOMER – YASMANI GRANDAL
There was perhaps an eyebrow or two raised when the Brewers signed Grandal as a free agent in the offseason, especially after he struggled against Milwaukee in the NCLS. But he’s shaken off any doubts about the move. Grandal was named an All-Star after batting .259/.372/.525 in 84 games, showing the ability to play nearly every day and hitting lefties and righties nearly equally as well. The switch-hitter has 19 home runs, which is already the third-most in franchise history among catchers (min. 50% of games played at that position). He’s been more than a welcome addition to the lineup.
Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved.AP