Milwaukee Brewers: contenders or pretenders?

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Milwaukee Brewers
Carlos Gomez and Aramis Ramirez have plenty to celebrate this season. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Back in March, various TTFB writers posted previews on all 30 MLB teams for the current season. One of the clubs I choose was the Milwaukee Brewers, or as I call them, Los Cerveceros. I’ll explain the Spanish alias later. Anyway, I predicted that this group might improve by 10 games in the W column and was the “ultimate crap shoot” in the National League Central Division.

Go ahead and look it up.

Based on that analysis, I should have headed straight to Las Vegas, because the Brew Crew flew out of the gate like a bat out of Sin City, and have never looked back. And for the first time since 1982, Milwaukee has two players — Carlos Gomez and Aramis Ramirez — who might actually start in the upcoming All-Star game. Yeah, I know that division rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds, have been plagued with injuries. It’s also true that, although the Pittsburgh Pirates are finally scoring some runs, their pitching staff is a mere shell of last year’s squad. Excuses and more excuses.

I just think it’s about time the Milwaukee Brewers get some respect. Why? Because this team can flat-out hit. The Brewers’ high-powered offense ranks second in the NL, while catcher Jonathan Lucroy and Gomez, a Gold Glove center fielder, are second and fifth respectively in the league batting race. Rookie Scooter Gennett is also in the top 10, and young left fielder Khris Davis is on pace to hit 30 jacks. Then there’s Ramirez, who recently smashed his 360th career big fly, vaulting him into fifth place all-time for MLB third basemen. If he can stay healthy, the 36-year-old Dominican should easily surpass Hall of Fame candidate Chipper Jones next season. Once again, I must use that word, “respect.”

The Brewers can pitch, too, and the big surprise is undoubtedly Wily Peralta, who leads the rotation with a sparkling 3.02 ERA. Kyle Lohse (9-2, 3.20) and Yovani Gallardo (5-4, 3.23) have both stepped it up as well. In the bullpen, lefty Will Smith and Zach Duke have been an excellent one-two punch ahead of veteran closer Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez. In fact, those three relievers have combined to fan 131 batters in 107 innings. Gallardo also accomplished a milestone of sorts recently, notching his 85th career victory to tie Ben Sheets for fifth place in franchise history.

Personal statistics are great, but I prefer to look at a team’s overall performance. I want to see substance and character. This Brewers club is a gritty bunch with a good mix of kids and veterans, all who have collectively learned to win and feed off each other. This is a team that is over 40 percent Latino, the second highest in the big leagues next to the Cuban contingent that heads up the Chicago White Sox.

So, yes, the Milwaukee Cerveceros are for real. And while good pitching usually trumps good hitting, clubs that have heavy lumber always have a gambler’s chance.

“We’ve just been looking around at the other teams,” says the energetic Gomez,” and there’s no team that has a better lineup than ours.”

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