This Fan's daughter is fourteen years old and of course, she is the princess in this Fan's fiefdom. As of yet, this old world hasn't colored her too much. One of her favorite shirts says, "This is going to be an awesome day." That, my friends is indefatigable outlook. This Fan used to be like that, but the clouds have been heavy the past couple of years. Thank goodness for her sunshine. And that leads us to Yovani Gallardo and the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Brewers have certainly not had a fun year. Their lack of pitching and some holes in their line up have short circuited their season. Fortunately, the Brewers still drew nearly three million fans this season into their ball park. Those fans might be in the minority of those that have any idea that Gallardo is having a stellar season and is a bright and shiny blip in an otherwise dark and gloomy season. Oh, there are other Brewers that have had good seasons. Prince Fielder had a much better season than most people realize. His 141 OPS+ has gone unnoticed as has Ryan Braun's season with an OPS+ of 131. Corey Hard had a very good season with his own 131 OPS+. Jim Edmonds filled in nicely as a reserve outfielder. But Gallardo has been the nicest story of the season for the Brewers. You expect Braun and Fielder to do well, but Gallardo gives them hope.
And what is so remarkable about his season is that when the spring began, he was a question mark. After tearing his ACL in 2008, he came back last year and started well, but seemed to run out of gas toward the end of the season. His stamina was questioned. His results were mixed. But the pitcher (who remarkably, is only 24 years old) really became an ace this season.
Gallardo still walks too many batters, but he has struck out more than nine batters per nine innings. He ran his record to 14-7 on Thursday after shutting down the Marlins. He is 3-0 in September with an ERA under 2 for the month. He had a great start to the season with very good months in April, May and June. But he struggled in July and August and those old concerns came back. And so it is good to see him finish strongly and have a complete season.
While Gallardo has become an ace for the Brewers, he has another facet to his game. He's one of the best hitting pitchers in baseball. How many pitchers can say that he has a WAR of 2.4 as a starting pitcher AND a WAR of 1.2 as a hitter? He drove in two runs on Thursday night with a single. That gave him ten ribbies for the season in 61 at bats. That projects to a 100 RBI season if he batted every day. Of his sixteen hits, eight have been for extra bases. He's hit four doubles and four homers. How about a pitcher with an OPS of .863? To add to all the rest of the benefits that Gallardo gives you, he's also a very good fielding pitcher.
Fielder will be the big story in the off season. Will the Brewers keep him or watch him go? Gallardo is locked up for a while and so there is no worries on that end. It's always nice to see a player come into his own and that's what Gallardo has done this year.