The 82nd All-Star game has come and passed and Thursday brings MLB’s second half – which never fails to stir up drama. The NL has clinched home field advantage in World Series with a 5-1 victory over the AL All-Stars. The Milwaukee Brewers had three starters voted in, however, Ryan Braun sat out due to an ailing hamstring. Rickie Weeks hit lead-off and went hitless, but did steal a base and score a run. Fielder, starting at first base and hitting clean-up, delivered the big hit of the night – a three-run jack off of Texas starter C.J. Wilson – and was named the All-Star game MVP. At the end of the contest the Brewers made a drastic roster move. Milwaukee now has K-Rod and the Ax-Man at the back end of their pen. With Rickie Weeks playing like his hair is on fire, if Braun and Fielder keep mashing, the Brewers could be in line for a deep postseason run. Here are the top ten teams in baseball right now…
1. Philadelphia Phillies (57-34, 1st in NL East by 3.5 games)
Roy Halladay: (11-3) 2.45 ERA, 138 SO, 1.02 WHIP
Ryan Howard: (.257 BA/.353 OBP/.475 SLG) 18 HR, 72 RBI
2. Atlanta Braves (54-38, 2nd in NL East, 3.5 GB)
Jair Jurrjens: (12-3) 1.87 ERA, 65 SO, 1.07 WHIP
Brian McCann: (.310 BA/.381 OBP/.514 SLG) 15 HR, 50 RBI
3. Boston Red Sox (55-35, 1st in AL East by 1.0 game)
Josh Beckett: (8-3) 2.27 ERA, 94 SO, 0.95 WHIP
Adrian Gonzalez: (.354 BA/.414 OBP/.591 SLG) 17 HR, 77 RBI
4. New York Yankees (53-35, 2nd in AL East, 1.0 GB)
CC Sabathia: (13-4) 2.72 ERA, 126 SO, 1.16 WHIP
Curtis Granderson: (.269 BA/.361 OBP/.575 SLG) 25 HR, 63 RBI
5. San Francisco Giants (52-40, 1st in NL West by 3.0 games)
Matt Cain: (8-5) 3.06 ERA, 105 SO, 1.10 WHIP
Aubrey Huff: (.236 BA/.290 OBP/.361 SLG) 8 HR, 44 RBI
6. Milwaukee Brewers (49-43, 1st in NL Central, tied with STL)
Yovani Gallardo: (10-5) 3.76 ERA, 104 SO, 1.36 WHIP
Ryan Braun: (.320 BA/ .402 OBP/ .559 SLG) 16 HR, 62 RBI
Prince Fielder: (.297 BA/ .415 OBP/ .575 SLG) 22 HR, 72 RBI
7. Texas Rangers (51-41, 1st in AL West by 1.0 game)
Alexi Ogando: (9-3) 2.92 ERA, 78 SO, 1.01 WHIP
Adrian Beltre: (.273 BA/ .314 OBP/ .499 SLG) 19 HR, 71 RBI
8. St. Louis Cardinals (49-43, 1st in NL Central, tied with MIL)
Jaime Garcia: (9-3) 3.22 ERA, 100 SO, 1.25 WHIP
Lance Berkman: (.290 BA/.404 OBP/ .602 SLG) 24 HR, 63 RBI
9. Detroit Tigers (49-43, 1st in AL Central by 0.5 game)
Justin Verlander: (12-4) 2.15 ERA, 147 SO, 0.87 WHIP
Miguel Cabrera: (.311 BA/ .430 OBP/ .549 SLG) 18 HR, 59 RBI
10. Arizona Diamondbacks (49-43, 2nd in NL West, 2.0 GB)
Ian Kennedy: (9-3) 3.44 ERA, 106 SO, 1.15 WHIP
Justin Upton: (.293 BA/ .375 OBP/ .506 SLG) 15 HR, 46 RBI
If the season ended today:
1. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Red Sox
2. Jose Bautista, RF, Blue Jays
3. Curtis Granderson, CF, Yankees
1. Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers
2. Jose Reyes, SS, Mets
3. Matt Kemp, CF, Dodgers
AL Cy Young
1. Justin Verlander, SP, Tigers
2. CC Sabathia, SP, Yankees
3. Jered Weaver, SP, Angels
NL Cy Young
1. Jair Jurrjens, SP, Braves
2. Roy Halladay, SP, Phillies
3. Cole Hamels, SP, Phillies
The Milwaukee Brewers have a number of candidates who could come away with a National League Silver Slugger Award at season’s end. Let’s take a closer look.
Ryan Braun, Milwaukee’s cornerstone left fielder, should have no trouble winning his 4th consecutive Silver Slugger. The Hebrew Hammer has already smacked 12 home runs (tied for 2nd in the NL) and picked up 37 RBI (5th in NL), along with a steady .307 batting average. Braunie also leads the entire National League in total bases with 109.
Brewers all-star first baseman Prince Fielder is off to a torrid start as well, having collected 11 homers (tied for 3rd in the NL) to go along with an NL leading 41 RBI. His 102 total bases lead all NL first baseman and are good for 4th overall in the league. Prince won the award in 2007, the year he lead the NL in home runs while becoming the youngest player to ever hit 50 long balls in a season. That year Fielder also came finished 2nd in NL slugging percentage, trailing only Braun. Cardinals superstar Albert Pujols has won the Silver Slugger for NL first baseman the past 3 seasons; however his down year, Fielder is in prime position to snatch up the honor in 2011.
Milwaukee second baseman Rickie Weeks sits tied for 5th in the NL with 101 total bases. Among NL second baseman, Weeks has scored the most runs (36), is tied for the most hits (58) and doubles (12), and is 1st with 9 homers. His 19 RBI are good for a 5th place tie. Rickie is also hitting at a career high .286 average. Dan Uggla, the 2010 recipient of the Silver Slugger for NL second baseman, is batting a paltry .183. With only 6 fewer at bats than Weeks, Uggla has 22 less hits and 35 fewer total bases (along with less home runs, RBI, runs, doubles, triples and walks). Chase Utley, the winner of the award from 2006-09, just returned from the disabled list this past week and has collected only 18 at-bats.
Yovani Gallardo, last years winner at NL pitcher, is off to another good start. Yo has 5 hits in 27 at-bats, with 1 HR and 3 RBI. However, Chicago Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano (who took home the award in ’06, ’08 and ’09) is currently leading the race for the Silver Slugger, batting .375 (9 for 24) with 1 HR and 4 RBI. His 14 total bases lead all major league pitchers, and are 6 more than any other hurler.
Emerging star Jonathan Lucroy leads all eligible major league catchers with a .328 batting average. Among NL backstops, Lucroy is tied for 2nd in both home runs (5) and RBI (23). But be on the lookout for Atlanta catcher Brian McCann (the NL winner 4 of the last 5 years, including the last 3 in a row), who leads NL catchers in RBI with 25 and is hitting a solid .281 with 4 long balls.
For the second straight year the Brew Crew could have multiple Silver Slugger Award winners. I’d count on two or three.