No doubt you already knew this, but Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy have been raking. (Note: This isn’t a story about their trade values; though, man, their trade values are so high!) And over the next four games in Philadelphia, their raking could become wrecking, and you’ll want to tune in to watch all the baseball-battering destruction.
Braun is second in the National League in batting average (.352) and among the leaders in slugging percentage (.579, fourth), on-base percentage (.421, sixth) and on-base plus slugging (1.000, second). The right fielder, the only Brewer currently in the top five of All-Star voting, is above his career averages and projections in almost every offensive category and has reached base safely in 39 of his 43 games, including a career-high 29 consecutive earlier this season.
Lucroy is the best-hitting catcher in the major leagues right now, with a .299 average (tied for first), .355 on-base (second), .531 slugging (first, by far) and .886 OPS (first). Two months into the year, his nine home runs are already halfway to his career high, set in 2013, and his 28 RBI put him on pace to set a career mark in that category, too. He had all nine homers and 22 of his RBI in the month of May, when he slugged an insane .650.
Braun (2.0) and Lucroy (1.9) lead the Brewers in wins above replacement (WAR) and are two veteran anchors in the lineup for a young and rebuilding Brewers club.
But you probably already knew all that.
What you might not know is how dramatically they’ve destroyed opposing pitching at the ballpark in which they’re about to spend four days. And how much Milwaukee has recently dominated at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, a team that enters the series on a six-game losing streak overall.
Braun, who went 6 for 12 with a pair of bombs in an April series versus the Phillies in Milwaukee, is batting .473 with nine home runs in his past 22 games in Philadelphia. For his career, Braun has a .411 average (44 for 107) with 10 taters and 28 RBI in 26 contests at Citizens Bank Park.
For his part, Lucroy has been even better there. He’s a career .481 hitter (26 for 54), with four homers and 12 RBI in 13 games in Philly.
Lucroy and Braun own the two highest batting averages (minimum 50 at-bats) of any active players at Citizens Bank Park. And those numbers are even more impressive when you consider that the stadium no longer has a reputation as one of baseball’s most hitter-friendly venues; it has neutralized over the past few years and this season is 25th of 30 in Park Factor run rate.
The duo aren’t the only Brewers that enjoy playing in the City of Brotherly Love; Milwaukee has won nine of its last 10 games in Philadelphia, including its current seven-game winning streak. During that 10-game stretch, the Brewers have outscored the Phillies, 70-44.
The first two Philadelphia starters scheduled to pitch in this series, Jerad Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez allowed a combined 11 earned runs in 10 2/3 innings in their previous outings (9.28 ERA), so Braun and Lucroy should get plenty of opportunities to rake right away.
Bash on, bros. Bash on.
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.