Milwaukee Brewers: 6 Major Surprises Thus Far in 2011
After an offseason that constituted direction and confidence into a franchise with many concerns, the Milwaukee Brewers opened their 2011 season with numerous expectations.
Some have proved accurate, some have not.
Which ever way you look at it, the 2011 regular season has—so far—surprised us all to some extent.
Let's take a comprehensive look at six major surprises of the Milwaukee Brewers' season we didn't see coming originally.
Nyjer Morgan's Importance in Ron Roenicke's Lineup
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Would Carlos Gomez remain the everyday starter? Or would the two split time?
These are the most persisting questions Milwaukee natives asked each other as Morgan entered the lineup at the start of the season.
Well, if there's any more doubt about what Morgan brings to the table, I'd love to hear it.
Although he's only appeared in 21 games, Morgan has brought a sense of urgency and haste to a Milwaukee ballclub desperate for some leadership.
Jonathon Lucroy's Offensive Outburst
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I have to admit—I've remained pessimistic about Lucroy's future with the team. But this year, he's all but left me speechless.
Milwaukee's 24 year-old catcher has been nothing short of a miracle-worker for this young Brewers ballclub in 2011. Boasting a .343 BA, 25 RBI, six HR and a .824 OPS, Lucroy has only added fuel to the fire that is Ron Roenicke's lineup.
If anyone expected this out of Lucroy, you are a genius.
Kameron Loe Stepping Up in Remarkable Fashion
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Despite losing notable offseason pickup Takashi Saito for the first third of the season, Milwaukee's bullpen has flourished under new pitching coach Rick Kranitz.
And beneath the success, is Kameron Loe—a budding star who has yet to gain the recognition he deserves.
So far, Loe leads the Brewers in holds (nine). But more importantly, Loe now brings a sense of stability to Milwaukee's shaky bullpen.
Casey McGehee's Struggles at the Plate
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Last season, Casey McGehee set the bar exceptionally high—leading the Brewers in RBI (104), with 23 HR and a .285 BA.
And while his 2010 success may be awe-inspiring to say the least, McGehee would be the first to tell you his 2011 season hasn't been quite as impressive, given the expectations heading into this season.
So far, Casey has managed just four HR, 23 RBI and a .246 BA in 2011, but remains optimistic as the season progresses.
Nevertheless, I don't think anyone expected such a slow start from Milwaukee's third-baseman.
Zack Greinke's Solo Blast
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The Brewers have always maintained superb "hitting-pitchers" (see C.C. Sabathia, Yovani Gallardo), but Zack Greinke's solo home run takes the cake.
Honestly, did anyone expect that?
Shaun Marcum's Absolute Dominance
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Okay, so this may not be a total surprise.
Coming into the season, expectations were running higher than ever before regarding Milwaukee's refurbished pitching staff. So far, one pitcher has completely and utterly stunned us all.
His name? Shaun Marcum.
Over the course of his five-year career, Marcum has carried a reputation as being a solid, reliable hurler who never gets too bent out of shape.
So far, Marcum carries a 6-2 record with a 2.78 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and a career-best 4.35 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Has Milwaukee's newly acquired ace exceeded expectations? I think so.