By JERRY TAPP
It seems to be a question I get asked quite a bit these days, although it’s never worded the same:
“How are they doing it?”
The “they” are the Milwaukee Brewers, and the “it” is winning games and sitting in first place in the National League Central.
The answer to this type of question has a lot of potential responses. Let me point out three players in particular — Zach Davies, Travis Shaw and Eric Thames — with a handful of stats to trumpet their first-half success.
Zach Davies: The second-year right-hander has a 10-4 record at the break. He is the first pitcher since Wily Peralta in 2014 to have 10 wins in the first half of the season (Peralta was 10-6 at the All-Star break in ’14).
Davies becomes the 15th pitcher in team history to have 10 or more wins in the first half of the season; it has happened 19 times. Ben Sheets holds the team record with three seasons where he had 10+ wins in the first half. Chris Capuano and Lary Sorenson are the other Brewers pitchers to have 10+ win before the All-Star break in multiple seasons with the team.
Jim Colborn holds the team record with most first half wins with 13. He was 13-5 before the All-Star break in 1973.
Of the pitchers who had 10+ wins in the first half of the season with the Brewers, only two were able to win 20 for the season: Teddy Higuera in 1986 and Colborn in ’73.
Travis Shaw: With 65 RBI at the break, Shaw became the 12th Brewer to reach that number in the first half of a season. He is the first to do so since Prince Fielder in 2011.
Fielder (three times), Carlos Lee (twice) and Greg Vaughn (twice) are the Brewers players who had 65+ RBIs in the first half of a season multiple times. Fielder holds the team mark for most RBIs in the first half of a season with 78; he did it in 2009. Lee had 76 in 2005 and Vaughn had 75 in 1996.
Other Brewers players with 70 or more RBI’s before the All-Star break were Jeromy Burnitz (73 in 1996), Lee (73 in 2006), Fielder (72 in 2011), Richie Sexson (70 in 2003) and Fielder (70 in 2007).
Eric Thames: With 23 home runs in the first half of the 2017 season, Thames became the eighth Brewers player with 23+ home runs before the All-Star break. Fielder tops the club with 29 HRs at the break in 2007.
Lee (in 2006) and Burnitz (1999) are next with 26, followed by Sexson with 25 (in 2003). Ryan Braun was the last Brewers player with 23 or more homers at the break; he had 24 in 2012. Vaughn also had 24 in 1996. Thames tied Braun (23 in 2008) and Gorman Thomas (23 in 1979).