COMMENTARY | OK, so that title was a little harsh, but let's not get things misconstrued -- the first half of the season was far from a model of success for the Milwaukee Brewers. In fact, it hasn't really been a good year for the Brewers, considering we found out in January that Corey Hart would yet again need offseason knee surgery.
The injury bug continued to chomp on important pieces and the starting pitching not only was unable to keep Milwaukee afloat, but it also jabbed a knife into the side of the lifeboat. Despite a few breakout performances, those were negated by a noticeable failure to come through in the clutch.
Before we get back to baseball, let's take one last look back at the first "half" of the 2013 season by dishing out awards -- both good and bad -- for the best professional baseball team in the state of Wisconsin.
Biggest Surprise: Jean Segura (.325 AVG, 11 HRs, 36 RBIs)
Just think. The Brewers brought in Alex Gonzalez in December in case things went awry at shortstop.
Turns out that Gonzalez would be the opening day starter at first base before eventually getting the boot. Segura, on the other hand, went on to become one of the most promising young stars in baseball, providing unsuspecting power, blazing speed, impeccable range and a cannon to boot. It feels like such a waste as the Brewers are 18 games below .500, but Segura is only 23, and his performance thus far in a Brewer uniform provides hope for the future.
Biggest Disappointment: Rickie Weeks (.226 AVG, 9 HRs, 21 RBIs)
With all the hullabaloo circulating around Ryan Braun these days, he could wind up not only being the biggest disappointment of the season but also in franchise history. But we'll pull back the reigns and delay judgment on Brauny.
Another slow start to the season for Weeks was disappointing to see considering how many blamed an ankle injury for his rocky start to 2012. What's been truly alarming is his average with runners in scoring position (.125). Like last year, Weeks has turned it around, but two months of unwatchable baseball is enough for him to earn this shameful honor.
Top newcomer: Tom Gorzelanny (1-3, 1.88 ERA)
Newcomer can be considered either an unseasoned player out of the minors or someone acquired via trade or free agency. A key aspect of "Operation: Revamp Bullpen," Gorzelanny signed a 2-year deal with the Brewers this past offseason.
Despite being forced to endure a DL stint in May, Gorzelanny has not only been a reliable arm out of the 'pen, but he went back to his old roots and made three spot starts for Milwaukee. His numbers in those starts? 0-2, with a 0.56 ERA. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2013 Milwaukee Brewers.
Best reliever: Francisco Rodriguez (9-for-9 in save opportunities, 1.19 ERA)
It's been mission accomplished on the revamped bullpen, but with the 'pen struggling early on in 2013 -- most noticeably John Axford -- Milwaukee signed former Brewers pitcher Francisco Rodriguez to a minor league deal.
Oh no. First Yuniesky Betancourt, now this? Then the bullpen stabilized with Jim Henderson at closer as everyone else fell in place, and the Brewers still figured that K-Rod, who was solid down on the farm, was worthy of a call-up. Then, upon Henderson's injury, Rodriguez became closer, earned save No. 300 and has yet to blow a game.
Best starting pitcher: Kyle Lohse (5-7, 3.67 ERA)
Donovan Hand and Gorzelanny probably deserve a fair shake at this award, but it's Lohse who gets it. A free agent signing right before the start of the season, Lohse, ye of little run support, had some tough breaks early on. But he turned himself into a valuable trade chip by reeling off seven consecutive quality starts (minus a rain-shortened start) and is someone Milwaukee can count on to compete every fifth day.
Comeback player: John Axford (3-3, 3.72 ERA)
Not only has Axford bounced back from a down-year in 2012, but he's also recovered from an absolutely brutal start to 2013. At one point, Ax was 0-2 with a 24.30 ERA. Then, over a stretch from May 15 from July 6, which included 23 appearances, Axford didn't allow a single run. Something clicked, and now Axford is trusted once again in a late-inning role.
Least valuable player: Yuniesky Betancourt (.198 AVG, 9 HRs, 33 RBIs)
Only Yuniesky Betancourt could hit .280 with 6 HRs and 21 RBIs in the first month of the season and have a WAR of -1.5, not only the worst among Brewers, but in the entire league. Yet somehow, Betancourt retains a roster spot and manages to start a few times a week because of how bleak the corner infield spots are for Milwaukee. Even still, Betancourt has no business being on a big league roster.
Most valuable player: Carlos Gomez (.295 AVG, 14 HRs, 45 RBIs)
This honor is truly a toss-up between Segura and Gomez, but we'll give it to Gomez, who earned a big payday in the offseason and has rewarded the Brewers by building off his 2012 campaign to have another career year.
Gomez is among league leaders in WAR largely because of his speed and instincts on defense, which has been on full display this season. Gomez has robbed four home runs and stolen over 20 bases. Recently, he's seen a sharp decline in his batting average but a regression was all but due for Gomez, who also leads the team in home runs.
Because his production and defense edge out Segura, Carlos Gomez gets the nod as Milwaukee's MVP through the first half of 2013.
Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who is an avid follower of Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline, as a featured columnist on other sites and publications, and been a guest on multiple sports talk radio shows.
You can get the discussion going and follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_.
- Sports & Recreation
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Yuniesky Betancourt
- Carlos Gomez
- John Axford