During the winter meetings, hundreds and hundreds of rumors emerge. Only some, however, are legitimate. Josh Hamilton, who is reportedly at the winter meetings in Nashville, signing with the Brewers can be labeled as a legitimate rumor. Not only because Milwaukee has had interest in the lefty for months now, but also because teams are recoiling at the opportunity to sign the superstar hitter, given his problematic off the field habits. Therefore, the Brewers have little competition.
Along with the Brewers in the Josh Hamilton sweepstakes, the Rangers seem to be the most active in discussions. Other pursuers could include the Red Sox, and perhaps the Yankees. After inking Mike Napoli to a three-year, though, Boston’s odds of landing Hamilton decreased a bit. It’s not the financial problems that GM Ben Cherington would run into, to be sure. It just seems like they’re leaning towards Nick Swisher, even though nothing is imminent.
So, the Brewers do have posses a chance to land Hamilton if they increase their pursuit. Of course it’s still a long shot at the moment, but Milwaukee has a chance to create a dynamic middle of the order which would almost surely set them up for postseason success.
Hamilton would join forces with 2011 National League MVP winner in Ryan Braun, and the always productive Aramis Ramirez. To put things into perspective, the Brewers would have two past MVP’s batting back to back with a player whose a lock to drive in 100 runs if he avoids the disabled list.
Hamilton Would Flourish With Braun Batting Behind Him
To no disrespect to Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli, those two are no match for Braun. Since 2009, Bruan has averaged 33 home runs and 110 RBIs per year with an OPS upwards of .940. As for the advanced metrics, Braun has compiled the second highest WAR in the NL since 2009 (24.8), and second in wOBA with a .405 mark. So in other words, he’s been one of the best players in the NL over the past few seasons, if not the best.
So simply, opposing pitchers facing Milwaukee’s lineup would be forced to pick their position. And when the choices boil down to Hamilton or Braun, there is no definite answer, as both can do equal damage.
There’s just one tiny concern.
Hamilton’s infamous collapse over the final month of the season is a well-known story by now. Rangers’ fans weren’t wary to initiate “boos” at home games, and the criticism steadily progressed until Texas lost to Baltimore in the wild card game.
As aforementioned, Braun would be an upgrade over Beltre in terms of protection. But protection wasn’t necessarily a factor in Hamilton’s downfall, as Beltre was actually in the midst of his best streak of the season. This is just something to note.
With a clean slate, new uniform, and a far less critical fan base, Hamilton would almost assuredly thrive in front of Braun.
Don’t Forget Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks
Weeks ultimately put himself under the radar in 2012 with a slash of .230/.328/.400. And his struggles peaked early, as he compiled an OPS of .586 in the first two or so months of the season (48 games). The funny thing is, he finished with 21 home runs; the second highest total of his career. How he got to that respectable total is a mystery. But maybe his eight home runs in his final 30 games had a role.
Now, the Brewers can only hope that Weeks begins the 2013 season in the fashion in which he concluded 2012. Doing so would impose a mighty task on pitchers facing the Brewers.
Weeks would presumably be slotted in front of Hamilton, with Braun and Ramirez lurking. All four boast a substantial amount of power, some more than others to be sure, and more importantly for Weeks, his protection would seemingly be endless with an all-star trio behind him. Not that his protection was weak beforehand. Heck, he’s had Braun batting near him for the past few years. I’d say he’s taken that for granted.
Then, the Brew Crew have Corey Hart in their back pockets just for laughs. And remember, we’re talking about a guy who vaunts 30-plus (he hit 30 home runs in 2012) home run power when in a run-producing role. By a run-producing role, I mean anywhere but leading off. Sure, he rendered nearly a .900 OPS in that spot this season, but just five of his 30 homers came from him batting first. Perhaps that’s a mental thing, but he hit 24 batting fifth if that means anything.
In all reality, manager Ron Roenicke couldn’t go wrong with a lineup based around Hamilton and Braun. One through eight, the Brewers would be loaded with a variety of weapons. Notably, the majority of Roenicke’s lineup card can hit the ball out of the park, especially at Miller Park.
The Hitter-Friendly Miller Park
According to ESPN park factors, Miller Park was the park that allowed the most home runs. There’s no denying that Hamilton and other would reap the benefits of this advantage. Granted, both can hit the ball over the fence anywhere, but Miller Park would surely spark their numbers slightly, albeit not as much as the assumption.