As the second half gets ready to begin, we hand out hardware -- both baseball related and some just for fun -- from the first half of the Milwaukee Brewers' 2017 season.
USA Today Sports
MVP: Travis Shaw
The Brewers have gotten a lot more out of Shaw than most expected as he's already hit a career-high 19 home runs with an entire second half of the season to go. Shaw has been rock solid hitting in the cleanup spot for Milwaukee, posting a .299/.367/.570 slash line (all would easily be personal bests). He's sixth in the National League in RBI (65), sixth in doubles (22), seventh in extra-base hits (42), 10th in slugging percentage and 10th in WAR (3.1). With Ryan Braun playing in just 40 games due to injuries and Eric Thames slumping after a scorching hot April, it's hard to imagine where the Brewers would be without the consistent -- and very productive -- Shaw.
Associated PressJulie Jacobson
MVp (Most Valuable Prospect): Lewis Brinson
Brinson didn't do much in a short stint with Milwaukee earlier this year, but don't let that dissuade you. He is showing exactly why: 1. The Brewers got him from Texas in the Jonathan Lucroy trade 2. He was included in the recent Futures Game; 3. He's regarded as the team's best prospect. In 58 games with Colorado Springs, Brinson is batting .339 (6th in the PCL) with a .412 on-base percentage (5th in the PCL) and .573 slugging percentage (8th in the PCL) along with 10 home runs and 10 steals. It's only a matter of time before he's patrolling Milwaukee's outfield once again. (Note: Arguments could also easily be made for Brett Phillips and Mauricio Dubon.)
Cy Young: Chase Anderson
After spending his first three seasons in the majors with Arizona and Milwaukee basically as a fifth starter, Anderson has had a breakout year, emerging as arguably the Brewers' best pitcher. In his 16 starts, he's allowed four or more runs just four times. From May 27-June 1 he had a string of 21 2/3 scoreless innings. So far in 2017, Anderson has a team-best 2.89 ERA (5th in the NL) and 1.107 WHIP (6th in the NL). Anderson is allowing just 7.3 hits per nine innings and striking out 8.5 per 9. If you think this first half has been a fluke, well his fielding independent pitching (FIP) is 3.45, which is seventh in the NL.
Top newcomer: Eric Thames
Yeah, this probably should go to Travis Shaw, since we gave him the MVP and all, but has any player on the Brewers generated more excitement than Thames, especially in April when he hit 11 home runs? He ranks fourth in the NL in homers with 23 -- and second in HR per at-bat (11.9) -- sixth in runs (58) and eighth in walks (51). Plus, he's a great, thoughtful interview and, of course, that beard.
Associated PressMorry Gash
Unsung hero: Eric Sogard
The Brewers were looking for a spark at the top of the lineup and suddenly they had one with Sogard, who was called up in mid-May. In 15 games in May -- with nine starts -- Sogard hit .400/.571/.686 with 10 runs in just 49 plate appearances. While he couldn't realistically keep up that pace, Sogard hit .316/.393/.432 in June as he quickly became a fan favorite with #NerdPower becoming part of the Twitter lexicon.
Gold Glove: Orlando Arcia
Arcia's defense has been as advertised. Already a winner of a minor-league Gold Glove, Arcia might want to clear out some shelf space for a major-league version. He leads all National League shortstops in double plays (66), putouts (162) and assists (251_ and is the MLB leader in Total Zone Runs (13) Range Factor per 9 innings (5.16).
Associated PressDanny Karnik
Craziest play: Orlando Arcia scoring from first on ball that never left the infield
Part hustle by Arcia, part mistake by Arcia and part buffoonery on Baltimore's part. That's the best way we can think to describe how the Milwaukee shortstop scored from first on an infield hit by pitcher Brent Suter. Just see for yourself.
USA TODAY SportsBenny Sieu
Best play: Eric Thames walk-off homer
It's hard to beat a game-winning home run but Thames' shot against the Padres on June 16 at Miller Park had some extra flair. Thames hit it to the opposite field and San Diego's outfielders barely missed catching the ball, which hit off the top of the fence and went over. Then to cap it all off, Thames was absolutely doused at home plate by his teammates with Gatorade and had his shirt ripped off his body. Winning is fun.