I answered some questions that are up over at BCB. Kyle was kind enough to return the favor:
A year's supply of beer, brats and cheese.
Kidding aside, though, the Reds, perhaps more than any other team besides the Cardinals and Brewers, have a chance to be one of the deciding factors in this race. They play the Brewers for three games in Cincinnati this week and the Cardinals in St. Louis to close out the season. The Brewers need to be 3 1/2 games better than the Cards over that stretch, and they're done playing St. Louis for the season.
Can you make the case for Ryan Braun as MVP?
Ok, we'll start with the fact that he's the NL leader in home runs (40), RBI (108), slugging percentage (.600) and OPS (.993). He's also the NL leader in Wins Above Replacement (rWAR) and among the top five in batting average (.318), OBP (.393) and hits (179). He's the only player in all of baseball that has scored at least 100 runs and driven in at least 100 in each of the last four seasons, and he plays for a team that's surprised everyone by becoming playoff-relevant in September.
Despite the facts that Prince Fielder no longer bats behind him, he spent his offseason defending himself against allegations that should never have become public and he spent April-July on a team that wasn't very good, Braun is actually having a better season in 2012 than he did when he was MVP in 2011. There are other good candidates out there but Braun definitely deserves consideration for the award.
How did the Brewers dust themselves off and get back into the WC race exactly?
The simple answer is that they won 24 games in a 30 game stretch. Unless you're the Astros, that'll make just about any team relevant.
The longer answer is that for much of the season this was a pretty good team with an awful bullpen. There was a long stretch where it felt like no lead was safe and despite pretty good performances from the offense and starting pitching things still went downhill. The bullpen has been better lately, though, anchored by John Axford's 15 consecutive saves, and the rest of the team has kept up a pretty good pace.
The unfortunate reality, though, is that the Brewers were 12 games under .500 in August when this hot streak started. As such even one of the hottest stretches in franchise history was only enough to make them a fringe contender.
Who are a few Brewers (September call-ups, bench guys) that most outside BCB don't know about?
The Brewers' most interesting callup is probably Wily Peralta, the #1 prospect in the organization and a pitcher who may have worked his way into a spot on the 2012 roster. Peralta has a hard fastball but did not look good in camp this spring, then went to AAA and really struggled with his control early. He's been hot since and looked great in his first few starts with the big leaguers this September before getting roughed up by the Nationals on Saturday.