What else can baseball fans do in January but dream of October? In You May Say I'm a Dreamer, the Outside Corner staff will imagine the route to a World Series in 2013 title for all 30 teams.
You know that old adage? Pitching and defense wins championships? Yeah, the 2013 Brewers didn’t think much of that.
Sure, the starting pitching turned out to be much better than anyone expected and the bullpen held their leads, but it was the offense that carried the Brewers to their first ever World Series title.
As had been the case in recent years, the Brewers’ bats just refused to let them lose, pulling off an impressive number of come-from-behind and walkoff victories. Ryan Braun was booed out of every building he stepped into on the road, but responded in much the same way he did in 2012 (although falling short of the numbers he put up in what’s likely to be a career year that season). Corey Hart returned to the lineup in early May, hit the ground running as one of the biggest offensive contributors, and even signed a contract extension to avoid free agency this winter. Aramis Ramirez finally kicked the “slow starter” reputation, carrying the offense while the Brewers awaited Hart’s return. Rickie Weeks bounced back from a down 2012 to return to All-Star form. Norichika Aoki provided patience at the top of the order, giving the Brewers one of the scariest 1-5s (Aoki-Weeks-Braun-Ramirez-Hart) in the league.
The starting rotation turned out to be much more solid than many anticipated. Yovani Gallardo finally made the leap from “good #2 starter” to “ace,” striking out 200+ for a fifth straight year, but cutting down his walks and working deeper into games. Mike Fiers showed he’s a legitimate MLB starter, not just a guy succeeding due to a funky delivery. Wily Peralta made a push for NL Rookie of the Year, finally getting his control to click. Mark Rogers even managed to stay healthy for an entire season, posting big strikeout numbers (even if it wasn’t with the most efficient pitch counts).
The bullpen, while still a far cry from the shut-down group of 2011’s division winners, was still a vast improvement over the 2012 bunch. John Axford returned to prominence as one of the game’s most dominant closers. Ron Roenicke ditched the idea of bullpen roles beyond the closer in favor of a matchup-based philosophy, and it paid off. The 2013 Brewers bullpen, for the most part a bunch of journeymen, proved that small-market clubs can thrive when they don’t pour a ton of money into the bullpen and just rely on lefty specialists and righties who can throw really, really hard.
The Brewers fell short of their second NL Central title in three years, but overtook the hated Cardinals in the race for the second wildcard spot with a three-game sweep in the second-to-last weekend of the season. From there, they beat the Washington Nationals in the wildcard play-in game, then knocked out old friend Zack Greinke and the Dodgers in the NLDS. In the NLCS, the Brewers would beat Milwaukee’s old club — the Braves. Finally, in the World Series, the Prince would return to his old kingdom, only to leave empty handed as Milwaukee beat Detroit in 6 games.