Even though the calendar year of 2013 is coming to an end within the next week, we knew that the year was over for the Milwaukee Brewers since their 6-22 month of May. It’s been a slow, sad progression to the conclusion of the year that has been filled with far more Yuni B than I think any of us desired. 2014 should be a fresh change on the Brewers front because, I mean, it would be pretty hard for things to spiral down any further than they did in 2013. Let’s recap!
2013 didn’t get off to terrible start. The Brewers added to their acquisitions of Burke Badenhop and Tom Gorzelanny by signing reliever Mike Gonzalez and the questions around the bullpen were seemingly answered. Then the team signed Kyle Lohse and forfeited their first-round draft pick. Corey Hart got injured and was to return by mid-May. While he was down, the Brewers lost Aramis Ramirez to injury. John Axford imploded. The Brewers were out of postseason contention after their horrid month of May. Hart didn’t return by mid-May. Ryan Braun got hurt. Rickie Weeks got off to a slow start and never turned it around. Yuni B was terrible. The Brewers were 38-56 going into the All Star break. Hart was officially lost for the season without playing a game. Braun was hated by Milwaukee and national media for doing what hundreds (read: thousands?) of players have done so that his team could possibly win a World Series. Seven players played first base, none of them very well. Then, after tanking all season, the Brewers picked up their play in September, finished 74-88 and lost the protected first round pick they worked so hard to receive all season long to Toronto. Now, three months after the season’s conclusion, the Brewers still don’t really know what’s going to happen at first base and the organization seems to be caught between trying to contend yet focusing on rebuilding.
So, with that, let’s get to this special Twitter Mailbag: The Brewers 2013 Awards, as nominated by you, the people.
Brewers Player of the Year
Nominees: Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy, Kyle Lohse, Blake Lalli, Front Row Amy, Jean Segura
Carlos Gomez was awesome. He robbed lots of home runs and hit a bunch of them and stole some bases on top of all that. His helmet also fell off a lot, which I’m sure somehow boosts his wRC+ or something.
Jonathan Lucroy. My grandmother thinks he looks like a duck but looks past this minor physical flaw and loves his game. Offensively, he slashed .280/.340/.455. He struck out 26 fewer times than Juan Francisco in 310 more plate appearances (11.9 K%). He was the best in baseball at framing pitches, saving 31.1 runs, getting 234 calls on balls out of the zone over the season. He hit a walk-off homer off Aroldis Chapman. Jonathan Lucroy for most underrated player in baseball.
Kyle Lohse brought #leadership, great command, a great soul patch, and a forfeited first round draft pick that St. Louis will probably turn into Michael Wacha reincarnate. But I’m not still bitter about that or anything. If I were Ron Roenicke handing out this award I’d probably say, “Loshey did a great job out there this season for us, but I’m still pissed about that draft pick and, I tell ya, Gomie was just phenomenal this year.”
Blake Lalli had potential, man. I mean, the #LalliPopGuild hashtag was going places. I liked his walk-off hit against the Giants. He had a lot of things going for him, like pearly white teeth and an ability to play first base just as well as Alex Gonzalez. But then we all realized he can’t really hit and his career with the Brewers ended much like a player who can’t hit’s career would end. You will be missed.
Front Row Amy was good enough in 2013 to open up her own line of t-shirts. Hat tip to you, Front Row Amy, but I think we were all left looking for more from your, um, performance.
Jean Segura played a lot of baseball in not a lot of time and it seemed to have an effect on him in the second half. After winning the Dominican Winter League batting title and instantly becoming a national hero, he hit .325 with 11 homers and a 135 wRC+ in the first half of the season and was named to his first All Star team. Second half? Not so good. He batted .241 with one dinger and a 57 wRC+. Mean Jean will have his shot at other awards later on (SPOILER!) but he falls short in this one.
Winner: I’m taking Carlos Gomez as Player of the Year. War may be good for absolutely nothing, but, if that’s the case, Gomez was good for four more wins of absolutely nothing than the next Brewers player (Lucroy). He wins this almost solely on the awesomeness of his highlight reel.
Brewers Least Valuable Player
Nominees: Juan Francisco, Alex Gonzalez, Michael Gonzalez, Yuniesky Betancourt
Quick! Close your eyes and think of three of the worst players in baseball in 2013. Now call your friend and tell him to do the same thing. Result: I guarantee that the names Juan Francisco, Alex Gonzalez, and Yuniesky Betancourt will come up.
Juan Francisco hit a lot of homers and we all knew he’d strike out a lot, so congrats, Juan! You didn’t suck more than the rest of these guys.
Alex Gonzalez. Woof. This is a guy who found a way to have a -1.1 WAR in only 41 games. His OBP was lower than Yuni B’s batting average. Why the Brewers thought he could play first base I do not know. One time, Cliff Lee struck him out three times in three plate appearances. We never saw him again. Coincidence? I THINK NOT.
Remember those vouchers the Brewers handed out to fans in August? Yeah. Wisely, I used the $30 that Uncle Mark gave me for just being a fan on a Yuniesky Betancourt shirsey. Regrets? Absolutely none. Because of this alone, our beloved Yuni B avoids this dubious award.
These other three guys made Mike Gonzalez look like a rock star in 2013, which he, um, was not. We learned Gonzalez is not a LOOGy and, for that matter, isn’t really a high-leverage reliever at all. To his credit, though, I think we all appreciated the flexibility with his name and the Mike/Michael fluctuations. Remember when it was determined that he was only bad when he went as ‘Michael’? Yeah, good times. Then it was realized that eviscerated decomposing body by any other name would smell just as bad.
Winner: Dear Alex,
Congrats! You may not have been worth as many negative runs as Yuni, but the fact that your RE24 was -10.45 and you were historically awful in only 41 games makes you the worst of the worst.
Worst Moral Offender
Nominees: Carlos Gomez, Devin Williams, Ryan Braun, Yovani Gallardo, Sam Dekker
If Brian McCann was in charge of this, he’d choose Carlos Gomez, fun-haver and violator of baseball’s unwritten rules, as the winner of this category. Good thing he isn’t in charge. (SPOILER ALERT #2: This isn’t the last that we’ll be seeing of the Gomez-McCann dispute that led to the Brewers bench-clearing brawl with the Braves.)
Brewers second-round draft pick Devin Williams seems like an awesome kid with a front-end starting rotation potential. His upside is very high and, just out of high school, the Brewers will take their time in developing him. His downside? He’s a St. Louis native an admitted Cardinals supporter growing up. Even in this photo on Twitter he’s wearing a St. Louis shirt and a Brewers cap. But I love Williams as both a pitching prospect and in the fact that we both graduated high school in the same year, so he gets a pass.
Ryan Braun enjoys lozenges. I see absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Yovani Gallardo had a down season on the field in 2013, but his biggest downfall came off the field. On April 16 he was arrested for drunken driving with a BAC three times the legal limit. I like to believe that people make mistakes and one-time slip ups don’t make anyone a bad person; Yovani handled the situation as well as he could, being cooperative with police and the Brewers, and has since moved on.
Wisconsin Badgers forward Sam Dekker messed with John Axford on Twitter. In a series of tweets that have since been deleted, the Badgers star criticized the Ax-Man, Axford took note of the tweet and fired back a shot that put the then-freshman in his place. Still love you, Sam.
Winner(?): For as bad as the media framed Ryan Braun to be and despite the ongoing lie he kept up about his alleged PED use, Gallardo’s offense was much more serious. Drunk driving is the leading cause for deaths on the road. I don’t think Braun put anyone’s life in jeopardy for his actions, which, by the way, were for the betterment of his team late in the 2011 season.
Scooter looks absolutely adorable in his official team photo and Aoki’s smile looks like one of the happiest things on this earth. That, along with the finger mustache, might be what I will miss most about him. But neither of those two can compete with the all-around package that is Jean Segura. Kid’s got great cheeks and a future in modeling after this whole baseball thing runs its course. There are few things on this planet that warm my heart as much as Segura’s half-smile.
Best Brewers Moment
Gomez robbing Votto to end the game was pretty cool, but it will get some more love later. The win here goes to Gomez’s run-in with the Fun Police that were the 2013 Atlanta Braves, which involved three of my favorite things in baseball: a Go-Go home run, Go-Go pimping out his blast with a Go-Go bat flip, and my favorite image from the season.
Favorite Carlos Gomez Theft
Winner: Gomez’s game-ending robbery of Votto was like being on pure ecstasy. Even though I’ve never done it or know anyone that has, I’m sure that’s what it would feel like. I think.
But seriously, clink on all those links. You won’t regret it and it you’ll remember why Carlos Gomez is the best defensive center fielder in baseball.
Best Pitching Performance: Kyle Lohse throws a Maddux, 9/25
The first sign the Braves were doomed in October was the Brewers absolutely dominating them. Milwaukee went 4-2 against the Fun Police, shutting them out in all four wins. Lohse only gave up two hits on 89 pitches while striking out five batters. After giving up a single to open the game, he went on to retire twenty consecutive hitters. It was beautiful.
Least Favorite Alex Gonzalez Plate Appearance (LFAGPA)
Nominees: All of them.
I really wanted Alex Gonzalez to surprise us and hit well and actually hold his own over at first base. But, as do all my hopes for Brewers players that really aren’t expected to do all that much, my dreams were crushed. So when JP suggested LFAGPA as an award category, I thought it would be really funny and I would enjoy it. Nope. Instead I found myself watching roughly 30 Alex Gonzalez plate appearances (Thanks, MLB.tv) from the past season and, in the process, asking myself what I’m doing with my life. So here’s what I came up with! A montage of Alex Gonzalez strike outs! How sadness. Much tears. What swing.
The winner has to be the one in the upper right hand corner. In that game, he saw ten pitches from Phillies starter Cliff Lee. All of them were strikes as he donned the sombrero. He was completely, utterly overmatched. He was like the condiment bar at the buffet when Chris Berman is done with it.
That shot is him chasing a fastball above the letters to complete a three-pitch strikeout. Lee set him up for the punchout with a first pitch cutter and a two-seam out of the zone that Gonzalez chased (because of course). Gonzalez was released by the Brewers the next day.
Best Snarky Acronym: FJF (Fat Juan Francisco).
It’s not really even a contest.
Best Rally Killing Bunt: Logan Schafer’s 9th-inning masterpiece against the Cubs on June 27.
First, a FJF rally-killing homer to open the inning brought the Brewers within one at 5-4. Rickie Weeks followed with a ringing double. Behold, a comeback! RRR (more snarky acronyms!) had Schafer bunt Weeks over to third to set up Yuni B, who predictably grounded out and Weeks was thrown out at home. Rally equals killed. Then Twitter erupted calling for someone’s head, but we couldn’t decide whose head exactly to call for.
Best Yuni B Intentional Walk: All of them.
I like to view sac bunts and intentional walks from thing angle: just because the result was positive for a team doesn’t necessarily mean it was a good move by the manager. That means all Yuni B intentional walks were hilarious and great comedic television. There were three options for this award, which means that, somehow, three teams intentionally walked he of a .24o OBP and wRC+ of 56–actually, I lied. The Cubs gave him a free pass twice this season (WHAT ARE YOU DOING, DALE SVEUM?!), meaning only two teams actually intentionally walked him.
On April 8, the Brewers had already tagged Cubs starter Edwin Jackson for four runs on run-scoring hits by Alex Gonzalez and Martin Maldonado, so figures that they didn’t want any more guys that can’t really hit light them up. They put Yuni on first to face Marco Estrada.
For the Giants on April 17, walking Yuni B was both a terrible move and had a poor outcome for their team. Just take a look at this ninth inning. Instead of trying to get out Betancourt and impending pinch-hitter Blake Lalli, World Series-winning manager Bruce Bochy decided to walk Yuni B with the high likelihood of having to retire Jean Segura in the case that Lalli didn’t end the game or ground into a double play.
This one was just as questionable. I repeat myself: WHAT ARE YOU DOING, DALE SVEUM?
Road navy alternates? Home navy alternates? Home bile-tinted golds? Cerveceros? Throwback ball-and-glove pinstripes? Polish-themed Piwowarzy jerseys? Nope. Easily the best of the Brewers (far too) many alternate uniforms was the Ninja Brewers look the team pulls out on special, “I’M FREAKING FREEZING MY EARS OFF” occassions. And, needless to say, nothing can top them.
Player Most Out of Position: Yuniesky Betancourt, left fielder.
Lucroy, Maldonado, and Gonzalez all spent time at first base. Jeff Bianchi played three different infield spots. Josh Prince played third base. Tyler Thornburg specialized as a pinch runner. But no makeshift defensive lineup beats out Yuni B playing left field, once even being placed in the outfield in a one-run game in the seventh innings. I laughed. Then cried. Then rubbed my eyes, realizing I had hit my low point as a baseball fan and cried some more.
Breakout Performer: Jean Segura
Rookie of the Year: Scooter Gennett
Because he’s gritty.
Favorite #BrewersTwitter Account: Kristin Zenz (@10iskristin)
Your 2013 Brewers, everyone.
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