American Association 2021 Mid-Season Report: Milwaukee Milkmen
American Association Daily provides insights, features, and recaps of the action from around the American Association of Professional Baseball League, as well as player and coaching profiles and transactions. In today’s edition, Robert Pannier looks at the first half of the season for the Milwaukee Milkmen, looking at top players, areas to improve, and where this team is likely to finish.
Milwaukee Milkmen Reach Midway Point
Record: 29-19 (2, 3) (Place in Division in parenthesis, followed by record overall)
(Overall ranking in American Association listed in parenthesis)
Average: .264 (6)
Homeruns: 70 (1)
Runs: 260 (8)
Stolen Bases: 57 (3)
On-Base Percentage: .342 (11)
Slugging Percentage: .451 (4)
ERA: 4.47 (3)
Strikeouts: 449 (T-2)
Opponent Batting Average: .243 (2)
Saves: 11 (T-5)
Fielding Percentage: .981 (T-2)
Errors: 34 (5)
First Half Recap
It is hard to repeat as champions in any league, but the Milwaukee Milkmen are making that possibility seem like a reality. It has been a potent lineup that is not producing a lot of runs and are not hitting well for average, but they are hitting home runs in big numbers and that is leading the charge.
That starts with Adam Brett Walker II who is on pace to break the American Association record for homeruns this season, but he is not the only one, however. David Washington was the MVP for the first month of the season, clubbing 12 homers to the first 29 games. An injury has sidelined him, but Washington and Walker make for the most deadly duo in the league. Mason Davis is another one got off to a fast start, but has been on the DL for the last 30 games. When he returns, this lineup is going to sizzle.
While Walker is grabbing the publicity, there is no denying the performance of Aaron Hill and Logan Trowbridge. The two infielders have been keys to the success for the Milkmen, especially early on.
What this lineup has done is to keep the Milkmen from enduring any prolonged losing streak. It is true that the team dropped six games in a row (June 30-July 7), but they have had several four- and five-game winning streaks as well. The longest was a six-game winning streak back in early June, and they have kept themselves near the top the division by winning chunks of games at a time. That has been critical to their success.
While Milwaukee has not matched the numbers their pitching staff put up last year, they are still getting the job done. It has been a bullpen by committee that has had to replace Peyton Gray, and they have done an effective enough job. Plus, the combination of Matt Solter, Myles Smith, Ryan Zimmerman, and David Holmberg make this arguably the deepest rotation in the North Division.
It is honestly hard to talk about anyone other than Walker. Consider the fact that he left May with just two homeruns, closing the month with six straight games without a homer. Since then, he has clubbed 19 and has kept his batting average above 300. There has been no trade-off for the big power numbers. Walker is among the league leaders in run scored (44), RBI (54), and extra-base hits (35).
When Tony Rosselli was signed, he was expected to be a big part of this outfield. Rosselli was a guy destined for a .250 average and 12-15 homers, but that has not been the case this season. He has struggled, hitting .182 and has just four hits in 24 at-bats this month.
What They Need
The rotation is solid, and this team can settle for the performance of their bullpen. What is needed is for someone to get on base. This is a team needing someone in the nine, one, or two slot to get on base at a .350 clip to set the table for Walker. If Brett Vertigan and Anibal Sierra can find their stroke, this team will catch fire and be nearly unstoppable.
What to Expect
The Milkmen have not had to worry about pitching. Even with key transfers, they have still put together as formidable of a staff as you were going to find. This is a very solid group, but the lack of offense or production beyond the homerun is a concern. The truth is as good as the lineup has been for the Milkmen, in Chicago and Fargo they are even better, and the Dogs can easily match their pitching staff. It will be a battle for second between the Milkmen and the RedHawks.
By Robert Pannier