A year ago, the Milwaukee Brewers scored more runs—776—than any team in the National League and also led the circuit with a .437 slugging percentage and 202 home runs.
What a difference a year makes. After Friday night’s 2-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Crew entered play today ranked 11th in the NL with 352 runs. Their .404 slugging percentage is sixth-best in the circuit and their 88 home runs are fifth.
The difference, of course, is personnel. In 2012, the middle of the Milwaukee batting order was manned by left fielder Ryan Braun, third baseman Aramis Ramirez and first baseman Corey Hart. Between the three of them, they accounted for 98 of the team’s league-leading home run total, drove in 300 runs and were durable. Braun played in 154 of the team’s 162 games, while Hart and Ramirez played in 149.
This season has been a very different story. Braun has missed 34 games with a thumb injury and, after one game back, is out again on bereavement leave. Ramirez is back on the disabled list for the second time this season because of a troublesome left knee and he has missed 38 games already. Hart has missed all 92 games the Brewers have played and won’t appear in one this season after undergoing surgery on his left knee recently. He was recovering from right knee surgery performed in January.
Braun and Ramirez have combined to produce just 14 homers and 62 RBI this season.
But the real difference between the 2012 Brewers and the 2013 version of the Crew is what this year’s team does—or doesn’t do—with men in scoring position.
With runners in scoring position this season, Milwaukee is hitting just .236/.312/.372. Those numbers went down after Friday night’s 1-for-12 performance in those situations. The league average with men in scoring position is .252/.336/.379. In 2012, the Brewers hit at a .257/.347/.438 clip.
Put those runners in scoring position with two outs and the Brewer bats all but disappear in 2013. In 389 plate appearances in that situation this season, Milwaukee is hitting just .181/.290/.309 with 93 strikeouts. The league average is .229/.332/.348 and in 2012, the Brewers responded to such situations with a .248/.351/.442 mark, with 150 strikeouts in 760 plate appearances.
Of course, sometimes a team that is struggling also gets unlucky, such as Martin Maldonado did while pinch-hitting with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning Friday night. Maldonado lined a shot to center that appeared to be ticketed for a two-run, go-ahead single. Instead, A.J. Pollock turned it into the biggest out of the night.
Ramirez hasn’t been right all season and likely won’t be. Braun said he doesn’t expect the irritated nerve in his right thumb to be 100 percent this year (per the Associated Press).
So fans can expect the Brewers to continue to struggle at the plate when the chips are down.Tags: Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Gomez, Corey Hart, Jean Segura, Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB, Ryan Braun
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