Milwaukee Brewers: 6 Major Surprises Thus Far in 2011

Alec Dopp@alecdoppCorrespondent IMay 30, 2016

Milwaukee Brewers: 6 Major Surprises Thus Far in 2011

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    CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 1: Shaun Marcum #18 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on June 1, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    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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    CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 1: Nyjer Morgan #2 of the Milwaukee Brewers makes a face for the camera after pouring water over his face during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on June 1, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robb
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    When the Brewers dealt for Nyjer Morgan of the Washington Nationals in late March, Brewer nation wasn't quite sure what would come of it.

    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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    ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 8: Jonathan Lucroy #20 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws to first base against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on May 8, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    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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    MARYVALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 24:  Kameron Loe #50 of the Milwaukee Brewers poses for a portrait during Spring Training Media Day on February 24, 2011 at Maryvale Stadium in Maryvale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    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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    HOUSTON - APRIL 30:  Casey McGehee #14 of the Milwaukee Brewers looks back at the dugout after strinking out against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on April 30, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    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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    ATLANTA, GA - MAY 04:  Zack Greinke #13 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on May 4, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    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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    PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 13:  Shaun Marcum #18 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws a pitch before the start of their game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on April 13, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    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.