With only two weeks left in the season, the discussions about MVP and Cy Young awards are beginning to heat up. Recent debates revolve around whether or not Ryan Braun should be allowed to win the MVP after his offseason battle in court on suspicion of using performance enhancing drugs.
While Braun is just sitting back and letting his statistic speak for themselves, the Milwaukee Brewers have found their way back into this playoff hunt. As of Tuesday, they sit two and a half games out of the second wild card spot behind the St. Louis Cardinals and the L.A. Dodgers.
They’re tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates with a record of 74-72, but those two teams seem to be going in different directions.
After a seven-game losing streak in July, the Brewers have won 30 games and lost only 18. And they’ve really been hot over their past 26 games going 20-6.
There are a lot of reasons the Brewers have turned things around in the second half, but one of the most important pieces has been offseason acquisition Aramis Ramirez. Known for being a slow starter, A-Ram hit .272 before the All-Star break with 10 home runs and 52 RBIs. Since then, he’s posted a .332 batting average, hit 14 home runs and driven in 40.
An even more drastic change from the first to second half has come from Rickie Weeks. The second baseman had a horrible start to the season, batting just under .200 before the break with eight home runs and 29 RBIs. In the second half, he’s hit .272, raising his overall average to .231, and he’s added 12 home runs and 30 RBIs.
Until a recent injury, Corey Hart was also a big part of this lineup with his 27 home runs on the season to go along with 77 RBIs and a .278 average.
The bullpen has still been a problem, and the starting pitching hasn’t done anything spectacular. Marco Estrada (3.56), Yovani Gallardo (3.69) and Mike Fiers (3.86) all have posted ERAs under four since the break, but those numbers aren’t anything to get excited about.
But Braun is the man in Milwaukee, and if the Brewers make the playoffs, it’s going to be hard for voters not to give him his second straight MVP award. Forget the offseason issues. For all we know, the guy is clean. Until he comes out and says otherwise, we have to address the situation as if he is clean.
Braun currently holds a .312 average (fifth in the NL) with 40 home runs (first in the NL) and 103 RBIs (second in the NL). With Andrew McCutchen having a disappointing second half and the Pirates fading, the only real competition Braun has at this point is Buster Posey, who has put up crazy numbers the past few months. If the Brewers don’t make the playoffs, I think Posey’s a shoe-in to win it.
But, if by some miracle the Brewers are able to catch the Cardinals for that last wild card spot and finish with a decent record, which many people thought would be impossible after losing Prince Fielder, then, to me, you can’t argue with Braun’s numbers and the Brewers’ second-half success. As much as it will pain many fans, Braun may be the National League Most Valuable Player, and, quite frankly, I would agree.