Slowly but surely, the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers continued to close that gap between their runs scored and runs allowed last night, beating the hard-luck Toronto Blue Jays 7-6 at Miller Park. The play of the game, of course, was Aramis Ramirez‘s deciding home run in the last of the 8th, a product of instant replay. As a result, the Brewers evened their June record at 8-8, and interestingly enough, improved their runs scored / runs allowed to 191 / 188 since May. Unfortunately, the Brewers have a 20-24 record in that time, which places them a couple of wins short of their expected winning percentage. As I “presented without comment” the other day, that disconnect between the Brewers’ winning percentage and their level of play has to do with their general performance in close games (they are now 11-13 in one-run games).
Overall, the Brewers’ offense is just around average through May and June. This does not tell the whole story, though. Key members of the Brewers’ core are building productive stretches at the same time, resulting in a seemingly well-rounded offensive attack.
While few will look at Rickie Weeks‘ overall performance and draw positive conclusions this year, the Brewers’ second baseman is putting together a solid approach over the last 30 days. He had a few bright spots scattered throughout May, and since then, he is grinding his discipline/patience approach into more base hits and more run production.
May 19 through June 18: .217/.339/.315, 8 R / 11 RBI, 29 K/17 BB in 112 PA
For the month of June: .264/.385/.340, 3 R / 6 RBI, 13 K/10 BB in 65 PA
Weeks’ R and RBI over the last 30 days match / slightly surpass his expected runs created over that stretch. Perhaps one of the most exciting facts about Weeks’ recent stretch is that it includes at least one mini-slump. After putting together an OBP-driven road trip to close May (adding a couple of extra base hits), Weeks had a rough homestand to open June. But, since then he’s on fire, which is a great sign — it’s great to see Weeks put together brief, alternating stretches of productivity that alternate between serviceable, slumping, and surging.
Notorious “slow-starter” Aramis Ramirez is also raking during the last month. Ramirez boasts three home runs in the last five days (including the “reversed” shot from last night’s ballgame), and overall, the hot corner handler slammed 14 extra base hits in the last 30 days. Furthermore, this hot stretch reflects the slugger’s pure contact/power approach — not a ton of walks or strike outs, just knocking the ball in play and driving it, too.
May 19 to June 18: .333/.408/.632, 16 R / 19 RBI, 12 K / 8 BB in 98 PA.
For the month of June:.320/.393/.580, 7 R / 8 RBI, 6 K / 5 BB in 56 PA.
Ryan Braun and Corey Hart are adding more power to the mix, rounding out a supremely productive core over the last 30 days. Braun and Hart add another 25 extra base hits between the 1st and 3rd spots over the last 30 days, giving the Brewers’ offense a strong foundation to score some runs.
May 19 to June 18: .311/.388/.592, 18 R / 25 RBI, 22 K / 12 BB in 116 PA
For the month of June: .328/.379/.623, 10 R / 12 RBI, 14 K / 4 BB in 66 PA
May 19 to June 18:.250/.303/.464, 13 R / 13 RBI, 34 K / 6 BB in 122 PA
For the month of June: .246/.288/.508, 7 R / 8 RBI, 17 K / 3 BB in 66 PA
Even Hart’s mini-slump is balanced thanks to his powerful hits; half of his June hits are for extra bases.Bench City
The reason I’m analyzing this offensive surge is that I wonder what the impact of returning legitimate bench players / first-line replacement options Cesar Izturis and Travis Ishikawa will have on the Brewers’ batting order. The Brewers dug deep into their replacement corps with Edwin Maysonet, Cody Ransom, and Brooks Conrad. For their shortcomings, Izturis and Ishikawa are more productive MLB options, which immediately gives the Brewers’ batting order another shot in the arm.
You probably think I’m crazy, but for once, the Brewers might actually receive some good luck this year. Their batting order has the strong potential to improve just as their core are generally batting the ball around the ballpark and typically getting on base. If Weeks, Ramirez, and Braun can continue their productive stretches, and Hart can continue to temper his rough patch with extra base hits, the Brewers may finally have a mini-recipe to improve their winning percentage and go on a quick run.
This might simply be wishful thinking; we all know that bench players and limited-time MLB’ers look like saviors when they take spots from replacement players. All I’m saying is, the timing might actually be right.
For all the noise I’ve made over the past few weeks about Rickie Weeks’ extremely disciplined, non-contact approach, I feel that he deserves equal praise for swinging the bat like crazy lately.
That’s right, during that month of June hot stretch, Weeks is swinging at more than 40% of his total pitches. You might question whether that means he’s being a less disciplined batter in order to knock some baseballs in play. Thankfully, the answer to that is, “not really!”
Overall, according to TexasLeaguers, pitchers offered Weeks 261 pitches in the month of June. 150 of those pitches were in the zone, which is very significant. Pitchers really began hammering the strike zone against the struggling Weeks, but his discipline paid off and he began swinging a lot more (given all those pitches in the zone). Against those 111 pitches outside of the zone, Weeks swung approximately 27 times; this results in a solid swing rate of 24% against pitches outside the zone.
We might finally be able to stop holding our breaths — Weeks is exploiting pitchers’ desire to challenge him, but he is maintaining enough of a disciplined approach to lay off the vast majority of pitches outside the strike zone. This is an especially significant factor as pitchers will begin to nibble while Weeks is on fire; now, it’s his turn to once again show the benefits of maintaining that disciplined approach.
Keep up the good work, Rickie!
Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference, LLC., 2000-2012.
MLB.com. MLB Advanced Media, 2001-2012.
TexasLeaguers. Trip Somers, 2009-2012.
Ramirez: Jeffrey Phelps , AP Photo
Ishikawa: Associated Press
Weeks Chart: Trip Somers, 2009-2012.