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The Milwaukee Brewers will test you. Look at their roster, look at their pitching staff, and tell me how they’ve put together this September run. They were supposed to crumble like an MVP with a broken kneecap.
It’s easy to fall in love with this Brewers team right now. I maintain that it would be a supreme bummer to see a Brewer squad sans Christian Yelich reach the promised land, but dang it if they aren’t the most fun team in the league right now.
What’s next for Brewers prospect Zack Brown?
Take a look at Craig Counsell’s speech after clinching a playoff berth, and tell me you don’t wish he were your boss/husband/dad:
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Counsell’s leadership skills are off the charts. He’s generous with credit, from the owners to the GM to the training staff. Listen to the cheer let out in that room when he mentions the trade deadline acquisitions. You’d think they traded for Robin Yount. No, sir, that cacophonous howling was for Drew Pomeranz, Ray Black, and Jordan Lyles.
Brent Suter got a shout out. Suter has pitched all of 17 ⅓ innings on the year – great innings, like, double-take great – but Counsell makes a special point to thank the training staff and, implicitly, laud Suter’s efforts in coming back from injury.
Counsell credits the player development staff, which, uh, heck yes, specifically for their work with Trent Grisham, the former top prospect tasked with filling the shoes of Christian Yelich. Grisham’s star had faded, but a return to a unique golf grip helped get his swing back on track to the tune of .250/.345/.450 across 165 plate appearances.
It’s not that the Brewers don’t have stars – they have stars. Yelich should probably win his second consecutive MVP Award. Ryan Braun might be the most celebrated superstar in franchise history by the time it’s all said and done. Keston Hiura will get some consideration for the Rookie of the Year award for his .300/.365/.576 effort.
But Counsell understands organizational relationship dynamics. His understanding of system coherence bleeds through that speech. He knows the big guns will get their due. He knows that confidence matters in this game, and as in all workplaces, he understands the importance of recognizing and appreciating the efforts of his employees. Those aren’t hollow words on Counsell’s part. He sees the big picture with this team.
Next: Can the Nats make a run?
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Brent Suter is not Clayton Kershaw. He’s not Max Scherzer. But he’s 4-0 with a 0.52 ERA at the most important time of the year. Part of what makes Kershaw and Scherzer so incredible is their ability to perform the way they do year-in and year-out. Counsell has created an environment of belief where players without those preternatural abilities can perform like superstars.
I don’t know how else to explain an 89-win team with a +9 run differential.