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Thursday, February 14, 2013

5 Things to Hope For in a Brewers New Year, Part 5

The thrilling conclusion to my five part series. This one took me longer to get to than I expected. The "new year" theme is a little tired considering it's mid-February, but I figured it's better late than never.
 5. Another exciting year in the outfield
Not much needs to be said about Ryan Braun (I wrote this post before his name was listed in the Yahoo! Sports article about Biogenesis. Even so, his explanation seems plausible, even to an attorney, so I see no need to discuss speculation). He responded to last season's... "difficulties" in about the best way possible, putting up another MVP-caliber season. If he remains healthy he'll probably do it again because he's simply one of the best baseball players on the planet right now. 'Nuff said.

In addition to Braun and Angels' phenom Mike Trout, only one other player in the Majors stole at least 30 bases and hit at least 10 home runs. Yep, you guessed it: Frank Stallone... I mean, Norichika Aoki. He played his way into the lineup and never relinquished his spot. During his first Major League season he transitioned from Japan nicely putting up a respectable .288/.355/.433 line. He is a solid right fielder, an excellent "table-setter," his first Major League home run was an inside-the-park'er, and in my opinion he was simply a joy to watch. With his first Major League season under his belt I think it's fair to expect improvement.

Speaking of joys to watch: Carlos Gomez.

Over the past two seasons something happened that I never expected to happen. I've become a Carlos Gomez fan. He's one of, if not THE best defensive center fielders in the Majors. After three lackluster years at the plate he improved his hitting enough last season that, along with Nori Aoki, he made Nyjer Morgan expendable and became the everyday center fielder (he put up similar numbers back in 2008 with the Twins at age 22). He still needs to walk more, but at age 27 it's not inconceivable that he's still improving at the plate. If he can repeat his 2012 production at the plate he will again be the everyday center fielder and will be an important part of the Brewers success.

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