Finally – we’re down to the two players on the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers who are absolutely, positively, and most definitely essential to the franchise as a whole. Trying to rank the roster 1 thru 25 is tricky at best, but the top 7 on the Brewers seem to be consensus locks. You could place Zack Greinke, Yo Gallardo, Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, and Shaun Marcum anywhere within the range of 3 and 7. I decided to rank them as I’ve described above, with Greinke being #3, Yo #4, etc.
That brings us to the top two most indispensable players on the team – Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. Or Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun. Any way you slice it, the tremendous twosome is the best in the Bigs. No two teammates have as many runs batted in as the Brewers’ dynamic duo. Braun out of the three-spot and Prince hitting clean-up – you’d be hard pressed to find a pair more prolific. Both are all-star starters this season and are having career years.
It all starts with Ryan Braun, the fifth overall pick in the star-studded 2005 draft. Braun wasted no time once he reached the majors, winning the 2007 NL Rookie of the Year while smacking 34 homers and driving in 97 runs, all while batting .324 and slugging a ridiculous .634, the best in the National League. Braun followed his breakout campaign with another stellar statistical season, launching 37 long balls while collecting 106 RBI and finishing third in NL MVP voting. In 2008 he made his first All-Star appearance and also snagged a Silver Slugger Award. The next year he led the NL in hits with 203 – 32 being home runs. He drove in a career best 114 runs while impressing with a .320 average. Braun earned his second straight trip to the All-Star game and won yet another Silver Slugger. This past season Braun batted .304 and hit 25 homers; he also collected 103 RBI, 45 doubles, and his third consecutive All-Star honor and Silver Slugger. As of this year, he’s on pace to hit .300 and be a 30/30 player, perhaps 35/35. The Brewers obviously value the Hebrew Hammer, as he’s one of only two players in the game locked up through the 2020 season (the other being Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies). Braun is as consistent as they come. He’s the definition of a five-tool player and is the exact type of individual that you look for to be the face of your franchise.
Fielder, the hefty lefty, was the seventh overall selection in the 2002 draft. After 28 homers and 81 RBI his rookie year of ’06, Prince left the ballpark a National League best 50 times and drove in 119 runs in ’07. He became the youngest player to ever hit 50 home runs in a season and finished third in the NL MVP race. In 2008 Fielder became a vegetarian and saw a drop in his overall production. However he still managed to smack 34 homers, drive in 102 runs, and lead the Brewers to their first postseason birth in 26 years (with the help of CC Sabathia, of course). Fielder followed up by having perhaps the best season of his career. In ’09, Prince played in all 162 games while leading the planet with 141 runs batted in. He also went yard 46 times and hit a career best .299. He was given his second All-Star nod and also finished fourth for NL MVP. Last year Fielder hit 32 homers and only 83 RBI, but led the majors in walks with 114. He’s off to a torrid start in 2011 and looks to be the leading candidate for NL MVP as of now. Prince possesses light-tower power and patience at the plate. Fielder has an excellent bloodline and has become one of the most feared hitters in the game today. He becomes a free agent next season, so enjoy him now Brewers fans.
So who gets the nod as the Brewers cornerstone player? Who’s the most indispensable? Who could the Crew absolutely not go without? Braun or Fielder? You decide.