Sunday, December 22, 2013

'08 Brewers Limp into All-Star Break; Sabathia to the Rescue

The Brewers made it to the All-Star game with a winning record, barely. The Brew Crew went 2-6 in their final week leading up to the break, compiling a 51-44 record in my replay of the 2008 season.

C.C. Sabathia couldn't arrive soon enough in a pre-break trade with the Indians that bolstered a starting pitching rotation that managed to hold opponents at bay while the offense struggled to pile up hits and runs.

Ben Sheets
Photo courtesy of UCinternational
Besides the hitting of Ryan Braun, the pitching of Ben Sheets helped carry the Brewers to their winning first half. Sheets compiled a 10-5 record, worthy of starting this year's All-Star classic at Yankee Stadium (just as he did in real-life!). With a 2.70 ERA, Sheets tallied 123 strikeouts in 146 innings. He had 10 complete games and a pair of shutouts.

Other Brewers starters and their win totals include Dave Bush (7-5), Manny Parra (6-9) and Jeff Suppan (5-7). Seth McClung contributed 5 wins in splitting time between starting and relief. Salomon Torres had 15 saves to lead the bullpen.

Sabathia's debut was nothing less than spectacular as he shut out the Rockies on 2 hits, while the offense welcomed him to Milwaukee by scoring 12 runs, including a three-run homer by Prince Fielder and three hits by catcher Jason Kendall, who drove in 5 runs.

In all the Brewers pitching staff compiled a respectable 3.47 ERA through 95 games.

Braun also earned his starting spot on the All-Star roster, smacking 23 home runs and driving in 70 runs. He scored a team-high 56 runs while batting .270 (slugging .556).

He was aided by J.J. Hardy, who batted .273 along with scoring 46 and driving in 45 runs. He hit 14 homers and a team-high 29 doubles.

Although slumping with only 13 home runs and a .222 batting average, Fielder also managed to knock in 45 runs. Like his teammates, all-star Corey Hart compiled a sub-par .218 batting average, though he has 43 RBI, 28 doubles and 21 stolen bases. Mike Cameron led the team with 23 stolen bases.

To this point in the replay, the Brewers have a sorry .226 team batting average, about 30 points below real-life. Pondering this, I wondered if I was just an unlucky dice roller. One remedy was to take a closer look at the actual box scores for their opponents, making sure not to overuse grade A and B relief pitchers. (In the replay, I'm using actual starting lineups for their opponents, and the Brewers' actual starting pitching rotation.)

Overall, however, the Brewers are within one win of their actual record (52-43), and sitting in second place behind the Cubs. The Crew's offense has been a nice mix of power and speed, with 109 home runs and 88 stolen bases. (For complete current stats, click here.)

AL Wins All-Star Game, 12-4

Manny Ramirez drove in 5 runs with a double and triple to lead the American League all-stars to a 12-4 win at Yankee Stadium.

He began the night with a two-run double to give the AL a first-inning 2-1 lead. On his way to earning the game's MVP award, Ramirez broke the game open in the fifth with a bases-loaded triple off Brandon Webb, who took the loss for the National League after surrendering 6 runs in one inning of work.

The American League also got a trio of two-run homers by Milton Bradley, Grady Sizemore and Jason Varitek. Joe Saunders was credited with the win. He pitched two innings, allowing one hit and notching two strikeouts.

Hanley Ramirez got the NL off to a good start with a lead-off home run, but that was about all that went right for the visitors, who only managed 7 hits and struck out 10 times.

Ben Sheets started for the NL, going 2 innings, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits. Ryan Braun started in left field, going 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout. Corey Hart, who earned a roster spot in real-life, went 0-for-2, with a pair of pop-outs.