The Brewers announced their postseason award winners on Tuesday, as selected by the Milwaukee Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America, and all five went to first-time team honorees.
Third baseman Travis Shaw was voted Brewers Most Valuable Player for 2017, ending Ryan Braun’s two-year run as MVP. Shaw batted .273 with 31 home runs, 101 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 144 games this season. Shaw led Milwaukee in homers, RBI, doubles (34), hits (147), extra-base hits (56) and total bases (276), while posting a .975 fielding percentage, which ranked fourth among qualifying Major League Baseball third basemen.
He also had a .862 OPS and a 4.0 OWAR. One of the highlights of the Brewers' season was Shaw's game-winning walk-off home run against the Cubs on Sept. 23, which kept their flickering playoff hopes alive.
The 27-year-old Shaw, who was acquired via trade from the Boston Red Sox last December in exchange for reliever Tyler Thornburg and has the nickname "Mayor of Ding Dong City," also was named the club's Top Newcomer. Second baseman Jonathan Villar had that distinction last year.
Closer Corey Knebel earned Brewers Most Valuable Pitcher honors after a season in which he emerged as a weapon out of the bullpen and represented Milwaukee as the team's lone All-Star. He posted a 1.78 ERA, best among Brewers pitched who had more than one appearance, and had 39 saves in 76 games. Starter Junior Guerra won the award in 2016.
Knebel, 25, ranked among the leading Major League relievers in strikeouts (126; tied for first), strikeouts per nine innings (14.92; third), saves (tied for fourth) and appearances (tied for fifth). His 126 strikeouts shattered the franchise record for relievers – the previous mark was Julio Machado’s 98 in 1991 – and his 45 consecutive appearances with a strikeout, from April 3 to July 15, broke Bruce Sutter’s 1977 MLB single-season relief record by six games.
Pitcher Brent Suter was voted Brewers Unsung Hero for his dependable versatility in different roles throughout the year. During six stints with Milwaukee in 2017, Suter went 3-2 with a 3.42 ERA in 22 games, including 14 starts. Utility man Hernan Perez was season’s winner.
After joining the club's rotation on July 3 to replace the injured Chase Anderson, Suter was named Brewers Pitcher of the Month in July, when he went 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in five games. Overall, the 28-year-old Suter was 3-2 with a 3.45 ERA as a starter (70.1 IP, 27 ER) and 0-0 with a 3.18 ERA as a reliever (11.1 IP, 4 ER).
Finally, charismatic first baseman Eric Thames received the Good Guy Award, which is "presented to the player who has the most outgoing, friendly presence in the clubhouse and interacts well with the media on a daily basis in a cooperative and pleasant manner," according to the team. Indeed, doing this certainly didn't hurt his popularity in Brew City. Last year, this honor went to another first baseman, Chris Carter.
Thames, who set the Brewers’ record for most home runs in April with 11, finished his first season in Milwaukee batting .247, with 31 homers and 63 RBI in 138 games. Signed as a free agent last November after spending three seasons playing for the NC Dinos of the Korean Baseball Organization, the 31-year-old Thames’ story and personality made him a fan favorite with the Brewers and across baseball.
The Brewers’ 2017 awards were voted on by a five-person panel from the Milwaukee Chapter of the BBWAA.
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.