Newcomers Shaw, Sogard making big impact with Brewers

Travis Shaw and Eric Sogard have proven to be large contributors to the Milwaukee Brewers offense this season.

When the Milwaukee Brewers added Travis Shaw to their team in an offseason trade with Boston, they certainly expected him to help the club.

But the third baseman might have exceeded even their expectations.

Shaw’s .298 batting average, .350 on-base percentage and .552 slugging percentage would all be career highs. His previous bests? When he hit .270/.327/.487 in 65 games as a rookie with the Red Sox in 2015.

Shaw’s 14 homers are already just two shy of his single-season best — set last year in 145 games (Shaw has played in 64 games for Milwaukee, entering Friday) — and his 51 RBI are 20 behind his 2016 mark. Shaw has also stolen seven bases after entering the year with five in his career (all last season). In addition, his 2.2 WAR matches his total from last season.

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If that’s not enough for you, Shaw is also driving in runs when they count. He is third in the major leagues with 17 go-ahead RBI, behind only Washington’s Bryce Harper and Los Angeles’ Albert Pujols, who both have 19.

Speaking of unexpected production, look no further than Eric Sogard, who is setting the world on fire with both his bat (1.4 oWAR) and glove (0.6 dWAR) since being called up by Milwaukee on May 12.

Sogard signed with the Brewers after missing all of last season and hit .283/.400/.435 in 46 at-bats during spring training. After batting .330/.421/.516 for Colorado Springs, Sogard got the call and hasn’t stopped hitting since arriving in Milwaukee.

In his first 35 games with the Brewers, Sogard has a slash line of .366/.466/.554 and he’s already set a career high in homers with three. He has 13 multiple-hit games — in other words in over a third of the games he’s played — including two four-hit games and two with three hits.

To put Sogard’s play into a little perspective, since 1969 he is only one of five players to have at least a .350 batting average, .450 on-base percentage and .550 slugging percentage in the first 35 games with a new team (minimum 100 plate appearances). The others: Barry Bonds, San Francisco, 1993; Luis Gonzalez, Arizona, 1999; Jim Edmonds, St. Louis, 2000 and Manny Ramirez, L.A. Dodgers, 2008.

#NerdPower indeed.

Other notes:

— This is just the fourth time in franchise history that the Brewers have been in first place through games of June 22 (2007, 2011 and 2014).

— The Brewers lead the majors in home runs with two strikes with 39. The Mets and Rays are next with 37.

— Jimmy Nelson has the largest differential in walks per nine innings from last year to this season. In 2016, Nelson averaged 4.32 BB/9; in 2017 he’s at 2.22 BB/9. That -2.10 differential is nearly double the next pitcher (San Francisco’s Jeff Samardzija, -1.20). The last pitcher to lower his walks per nine innings by at least 2.00 from one season to the next (minimum 1 IP per team game both seasons) was Arizona’s Brandon Webb in 2014-15.

— Nelson is 3-0 with a 2.02 ERA over his last five starts, striking out 41 batters in his 35 2/3 innings during this streak.

— Domingo Santana is 3 for 6 vs. the Braves in his career, all this season. All three hits have been home runs.

Statistics courtesy STATS and