The Milwaukee Brewers have been one of the best teams in MLB so far.
As of Friday afternoon, they were comfortably leading their division, the National League Central, with an 86-55 record.
That would be 12 games ahead of the second-ranked team in the Central, the Cincinnati Reds, and the third-best record in the NL, not too far behind the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers.
With a plus-117 run differential, the Brewers top teams such as the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, San Diego Padres, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics and other contenders.
Is it really surprising to see them running away with the NL Central?
Yes, to a certain degree.
Four Teams Were Supposed To Be In The Race
At the start of the season, there wasn’t a clear favorite in the division.
Four teams entered the 2021 campaign with realistic chances: the Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Reds, and St. Louis Cardinals.
By now, we all know what happened to the Cubs: they started off the season hot, cooled off, and decided to trade most of their stars because they were about to hit free agency.
Now they are rebuilding, and they effectively took themselves out of the race in 2021.
The Reds’ bullpen cost them several games at the start of the season, and overall, they have been worse than the Brewers anyway.
The Reds, however, are contending for a spot in the playoffs via the Wild Card, but after more than five months of baseball, we can say they aren’t in the Brewers’ league.
St. Louis is joining the Reds in the fight for the second Wild Card berth.
Right now, the Dodgers own the first Wild Card and it’s not close, given that the Padres, holders of the second spot as of now, are 13 games back with a 74-65 record.
The Reds are a game behind the Padres at 74-67, and the 71-68 Cardinals are two games behind the Reds and three behind the Friars.
Milwaukee, however, has exceeded expectations and is perhaps the most surprising team of the 2021 season, alongside the Giants.
The fact that they are winning the division per se is not that shocking, because they were in the group of potential contenders.
A Talented Roster
However, the convincing way in which they are doing it is definitely jaw-dropping.
Adding to the surprise element is the fact that Milwaukee is doing this without a good season by its best player, outfielder Christian Yelich.
Plagued by back issues virtually all year, Yelich, a former MVP, is hitting .260/.374/.390 with eight homers and eight stolen bases.
That’s not bad, except for the fact that his power has disappeared.
Yelich is pretty much there, except for the extraordinary power numbers, he is the quality hitter right now you are speaking of. OBP is great. Only difference is the all world power numbers. But his WAR is almost up to 2.0
— Armen Saryan (@ArmenSaryan) September 2, 2021
The real strength of the Brewers, however, is their phenomenal pitching.
They also have a strong bullpen, headlined by All-World closer Josh Hader.
The point is, the Giants are not markedly better than the Brewers, yet the Brewers still go unnoticed by most of the national media. Like the Bucks, they get no respect. Also like the Bucks maybe they’ll surprise everyone and win a championship this year.
— Chad Rath (@chad_rath) September 2, 2021
Milwaukee should have enough on its roster to make things interesting in the NL come playoff time.