Ryan Braun’s ninth-inning home run towered over the crowd at Wrigley Field as it exploded off of his bat and onto Waveland Ave., out of the Chicago ballpark. Four hundred and four feet off his bat with the wind blowing in, Braun’s moonshot would be tough for anyone in baseball to replicate.
“It’s Ryan Braun,” joked fellow outfielder Carlos Gomez after the game. “He’s got a special power.”
But Aramis Ramirez has followed that seemingly unfollowable act plenty this season, as Milwaukee’s cleanup hitter and its most high-profile replacement in the lineup between this year and last. He promptly stepped up to the plate and blasted another home run — this one to left field — for his second long ball of the day.
Even after Ramirez and Braun had stolen the show in the ninth inning, Corey Hart would not be overlooked. He slammed his own home run to make the game 11-4, when it had been just a two-run ballgame less than 10 minutes prior.
Thus has been the middle of the order for the Brewers all season long, as Braun, Ramirez, and Hart have — somewhat quietly — become one of the best three through five trios in all of baseball.
Through Monday’s game, Ramirez, Hart, and Braun have combined for 78 of the team’s 155 home runs in 2012, to go with 243 RBI, and 187 extra-base hits — tops in the major leagues among all three-, four-, five-hitter trios.
To compare, arguably baseball’s best trio of hitters — Texas’ Adrian Beltre, Josh Hamilton, and Nelson Crus — have combined for just four more home runs and actually have 17 fewer extra-base hits.
The same can be said for the rest of baseball’s top trios. Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, and Mark Teixeira of the Yankees trail the Brewers by 16 RBI, three home runs, and 21 extra-base hits. And in the National League, Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, and David Freese also trail Milwaukee in two of those categories, with eight fewer home runs and 28 fewer extra-base hits.
And perhaps the most pleasing to Brewers fans: the three-four combination of Braun and Ramirez hasn’t skipped a beat in replacing Prince Fielder, now with Detroit. Fielder and fellow Tiger Miguel Cabrera lead the Brewers three-four pair by 27 RBI, but Milwaukee’s Ramirez and Braun lead the Detroit pair by five roundtrippers.
For a group that was expected to be good — but not that good — the success has been a pleasant surprise.
“I think really everybody up and down the lineup have really been swinging the bats well and putting together great at-bats,” Braun said. “And it makes it more challenging to pitch to us when you have a lot of guys swinging the bats well.”