Milwaukee Brewers 2011 Report Card: Grades for Every Player

Alec Dopp@alecdoppCorrespondent IOctober 24, 2011

Milwaukee Brewers 2011 Report Card: Grades for Every Player

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    While the Milwaukee Brewers' "all-or-nothing" 2011 season was dismissed last week at the hands of Tony La Russa and the St. Louis Cardinals, not everything about Milwaukee’s campaign should be deemed reprehensible.

    Setting a new franchise record for home victories in a regular season along with making their first postseason appearance as NL Central champs in the franchise's history, the Milwaukee Brewers (and their fans) should look back at 2011 with great admiration and a profound sense of accomplishment moving forward.

    That being said, how did each player grade in Bleacher Report's 2011 Milwaukee Brewers report card?

    Alec Dopp covers the Milwaukee Brewers as a featured columnist on Bleacher Report.  Follow him on Twitter: @alecdopp, and read his blog.

Grading Scale

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    How did we go about assigning each player's 2011 grade?

    Grading Scale

    A = Outstanding; performed well above expectations

    B = Good; executed his position with decency

    C = Tolerable; average productivity

    D = Mediocre; disappointing on multiple fronts

    F = Well, you get the idea.

Starting Pitchers

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    Yovani Gallardo: B+ (17-10, 3.52 ERA, 207 SO) 

    Gallardo showed us just why he truly is Milwaukee's ace during the regular season.  A team-high 17 wins and 207 strikeouts, the 25-year-old also ranked eighth in MLB in K/9 (8.99). 


    Zack Greinke: B (16-6, 3.83 ERA, 201 SO)

    He got off to a slow start, but then caught fire in noteworthy fashion.  MLB's leader in K/9 (10.54), Greinke never lost a home start, going 11-0 with a 3.13 ERA at Miller Park. 


    Shaun Marcum: B (13-7, 3.54 ERA, 158 SO)

    Going 8-3 with an MLB-best 2.21 ERA on the road, Marcum may be the best regular-season road pitcher of 2011.  He anchored Milwaukee's rotation collectively, but struggled mightily in the postseason, going 0-3 with a 14.90 ERA in three starts. 


    Randy Wolf: B+ (13-10, 3.69 ERA, 134 SO)

    One of the top No.-4 starters in MLB, Wolf performed well above expectations.  He was consistent both at home and on the road, and actually led the team with 212.1 IP. 


    Chris Narveson: C+ (11-8, 4.45 ERA, 126 SO)

    Although overlooked, Narveson did a modest job as Milwaukee's fifth starter.


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    John Axford: A+ (1.95 ERA, 46 SV, 86 SO)

    To say that the 28-year-old closer overachieved would be a huge understatement.  Finishing second among all MLB closers with 46 saves and first with a 1.95 ERA, Axford was huge in Milwaukee's run to the postseason.  Keep in mind, this was accomplished in just his first go-around as a big-league closer. 


    Francisco Rodriguez: B (1.86 ERA, 17 HLD, 33 SO)

    Officially acquired just hours after the All-Star game, Rodriguez was brilliant as Milwaukee's eighth-inning man.  He administered 33 strikeouts in just 29.0 innings pitched and gave up just six earned runs over that time span. 


    Kameron Loe: C+ (3.50 ERA, 16 HLD, 61 SO)

    The physically cumbersome Loe came into 2011 as Milwaukee's set-up man, but eventually wound up as a seventh-inning reliever.  He kept opponents to just a .240 BAA and .638 OPS during the regular year. 


    Takashi Saito: B- (2.03 ERA, 10 HLD, 23 SO)

    A hamstring injury prevented him from the mound until early July, but he was able to amass 23 SO in 26.2 IP. 



    Marco Estrada (4.38 ERA, 4 HLD, 55 SO) C

    LaTroy Hawkins (2.42 ERA, 20 HLD, 28 SO) B

    Frankie De La Cruz (2.77 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 9 SO) B-

Jonathan Lucroy

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    Milwaukee's 25-year-old catcher is by no means a "slugger" offensively, however his 59 RBI were enough to rank him fourth among all MLB catchers in that category.

    Lucroy was also one of the more durable catchers in all of baseball.  His 136 games started ranked fourth among all catchers.

    Additionally, Lucroy's glove made him a key component in Milwaukee's success.  He maintained an impressive 7.87 range factor while allowing just one passed ball all year.

    The Louisiana Lafayette product is set to become an unrestricted free agent this winter.  Expect him to be back with the club in 2012 and beyond.

    Grade: B

Prince Fielder

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    If 2011 proves to be his last in a Brewers uniform, Fielder was able to leave a lasting legacy in his final season with Milwaukee.

    Statistically, you couldn't ask for much more.  

    Batting .299 (a new career high) with 38 home runs and 120 RBI (most among all MLB first basemen), Fielder was absolutely essential in Milwaukee's run toward its first ever NL Central title and will receive MVP consideration for that reason.

    He may have gone cold in the playoffs (.237 BA, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 9 SO), but his regular-season accomplishments are simply too marvelous for us to lower his cumulative grade.

    Grade: A-

Rickie Weeks

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    After a stellar 2010 campaign, Milwaukee's $38.5-million second baseman came into 2011 with high hopes of taking his game to the next level.

    Needless to say, he was able to accomplish just that.

    Amassing 17 HR, 39 RBI, a .279 BA and 67 R prior to the All-Star break, Weeks was well on his way to a historic 2011 season.  If it weren't for a chilling ankle injury in late July, who knows what he would've been able to produce.

    Despite missing the entire month of August, Weeks wound up with 20 home runs, 49 RBI, a .269 BA and a .818 OPS.  A solid season, even with missing a fifth of a season.

    Grade: B-

Third Basemen

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    Casey McGehee: D

    After leading the Brewers with 104 RBI in 2010, McGehee also came into 2011 with high intentions.  But, for whatever reason, he wasn't able to get the ball rolling.

    Finishing with 13 HR, 67 RBI and an atrocious .223 BA, the 29-year-old third baseman was a disappointment of colossal proportions.  He would make the transition to benchwarmer once the playoffs came around. 


    Jerry Hairston: B+

    Hairston was brought in just hours before the trade deadline, but wouldn't see the field with regularity until late September, eventually taking over the starting role at third base in the postseason.

    Batting .385 with a .961 OPS in the playoffs, Hairston was paramount in Milwaukee reaching its first NLCS in franchise history.

Yuniesky Betancourt

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    "Consistency" isn't part of Yuniesky Betancourt's vocabulary.  For that matter, I'm not sure how much English he does know.

    In his first season with the club, the 29-year-old shortstop went from being a highlight reel to public enemy No. 1.

    His 68 RBI during the regular season ranked second among all NL shortstops, and his splendid postseason (.310 BA, 7 R, HR, 6 RBI) made him an integral piece in Ron Roenicke's lineup throughout 2011.

    Yet, his defensive struggles (.965 FPCT, 21 E) were enough to send Brewers fans reeling.

    Tough call here.

    Grade: C-

Ryan Braun

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    As a Brewers fan, it's hard not to get emotional when talking about Braun.  The 27-year-old has already brought so much to the organization in just five unforgettable seasons.

    In 2011, Braun fell just decimal points short of Jose Reyes for the NL batting title, with a .332 BA.  His 33 HR and 111 RBI rank sixth and fourth in the NL, respectively, and his .597 SLG and .994 OPS are tops in the NL as well.  

    His 33 stolen bases also rank seventh in the NL.

    Granted, he was fortunate enough to have Fielder protecting him in Milwaukee's lineup, but, overall, you can't ask for any more out of the youngster.

    Grade: A

Center Fielders

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    Nyjer Morgan: A-

    Acquired just days before the regular season, Morgan played a monumental role in Milwaukee's 2011 conquest toward an NL Central title.  His .304 BA is second-best among all Brewers, and his four HR and 37 RBI proved clutch.

    Oh, and he also sent Milwaukee to the NLCS.  It was a decent season for Tony Plush. 


    Carlos Gomez: C

    Injuries sidelined any hope of a productive 2011 campaign for the speedy Gomez.  However, we was able to steal 16 bases in 94 total games played.  

Corey Hart

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    Though the start to his season was delayed due to an abdominal strain, Hart rebounded in stunning fashion.

    After missing close to all of April, Hart finished his 2011 campaign batting .285 with 26 HR (third-most of any Brewer) and 63 RBI.  His .992 FPCT was 11th-best among all NL outfielders and his 2.02 RF ranks 18th-best.

    Hart played his best ball in Milwaukee's historic month of August, batting .321 with eight HR and 17 RBI.

    In the postseason, Hart managed two HR, five RBI, six R and a .244 BA as Ron Roenicke's leadoff man.

    Grade: B