The Milwaukee Milkmen are going back to postseason!
For the second consecutive season, the other local cream city nine will be competing for the American Association championship.
Though the journey to get to the playoffs was rather bumpy these last few weeks, the Milkmen have still placed themselves in position to accomplish their goal of repeating as champions.
With @TheChicagoDogs' win last night, the @MKEMilkmen have clinched the final North Division playoff spot. pic.twitter.com/UiTOXeGTx4
— American Association (@AA_Baseball) September 1, 2021
Postseason road to the title
The Milkmen (58-41) finished third in the North Division standings meaning they will need to go to North Dakota to take on the number two seeded RedHawks (60-38) for a one game play-in. The Milkmen own the season series (7-6) but the RedHawks had won the previous two series. The game will be played Wednesday night.
Should the Milkmen advance, next up is the North Division winner Chicago Dogs (62-37) in a best of five series. The first two games would be held in Milwaukee’s Franklin Field on Friday & Saturday before the final three games would be at Chicago’s Impact Field.
The winner of this series would go on the finals to face the winner of the South Division in a best of five series for the American Association title. As far as potential opponents emerging out of the south, the favorite is division winner Kansas City Monarchs who own the league’s best record at 68 wins and 31 losses. There also could be a chance to see the Cleburne Railroaders (54-45), Sioux City Explorers (53-45), or Lincoln Saltdogs (53-46). Sioux City and Lincoln are currently battling for the final playoff spot in the south.
Can the Milkmen repeat?
In the playoffs, anything can happen.
It is hard to argue though that the hottest teams entering the post-season are the Dogs & RedHawks. While Milwaukee struggled in the these last five weeks of the season (14-19), the Dogs were on fire winning 22 games and losing 9. Meanwhile, the RedHawks were just a little more impressive culminating a record of 22 wins & 7 losses.
Both teams are fairly good all around in hitting, pitching, & defense.
The Redhawks league the lead in team batting (.305), are second in the league in team ERA (4.32), and second in the league in fielding percentage (.982). Their best offensive players as far as OPS have been outfielder Jordan George (.987), catcher Kevin Krause (.943), & infielder Leobalda Pina (.888).
The North division champion Dogs are fifth in the league in team batting (.276), third in the league in pitching (4.57), and third in the league in fielding percentage (.981). Their top overall performers (by OPS) are infielder T.J. Bennett (.997), catcher Ryan Lidge (.856), & outfielder Michael Crouse (.875).
If the Milkmen can advance past these two division rivals, there should be a formidable opponent emerging out of the south.
The Key to advancing
In the postseason, sometimes it comes down to pitching and defense, both which the Milkmen possess.
The Milkmen league the lead in team ERA (4.29) & strikeouts (932). The largest contributions have come from starting pitchers Myles Smith (13-4, 3.47 ERA, 134 Ks) and David Holmberg (9-4, 3.99 ERA, and 96 Ks).
While the offense has been inconsistent the last five weeks, Adam Brett Walker II has once again put himself into player of the year consideration with a line of .321/.370/.632, 32 homeruns, and 99 runs batted in. While it has hurt to not have first basemen David Washington (OUT-injury), late season pick up Will Kengor has been a welcomed addition to cover first. In nine games with Milwaukee he owns a .361 batting average with 3 homeruns and 7 runs batted in.
If the offense can come back to form as it did the first few months of the season, in tandem with great pitching, Milwaukee has a great chance to make it back to the finals and put themselves in a position to repeat.
Speaking of Walker
Milwaukee’s very own continues to build himself a lasting legacy in the American Association. On Sunday, Walker would break the single season homerun record previously held by Keon Barnum with 31.
It came against the RailCats and like several of his homeruns throughout the season, this one was a no-doubter.
There’s a new home run king of @AA_Baseball and his name is Adam Brett Walker II. @walkoff28 set the single-season home run record with his 32nd blast of the season tonight in a 6-4 @MKEMilkmen win. pic.twitter.com/KGxFdTVNuJ
— Max Kelton (@alldaykelt) September 6, 2021
And here’s another angle from Milkman assistant coach & data analyst Kyle Lesniewski-
It has been a year featuring an awful lot of left turns.
Here's the swing that broke the record.
Congratulations to @walkoff28 on breaking the @AA_Baseball single season home record with 32!@MKEMilkmen pic.twitter.com/eCVBV7SDYx
— Kyle Lesniewski (@Kyle_Lesniewski) September 6, 2021
ABW would hit number 33 in the final game of the season Monday afternoon. As it turned out, it was the decisive homerun in a 2-1 victory over the Railcats.
However the season ends for the Milkmen- it cannot be stated how special Walker has been for this club. It’s possible on Thursday he could earn himself player of the year honors again. Stay tuned….
September baseball begins Wednesday!
For more playoff and Milkmen coverage, keep up to date by following the Milkmen, Wisconsin sports heroics, & myself on Twitter @WordOfThe_Weiss!
Check out our merch page as well. Use promo code WISCO at checkout for $1 off! To read more of our articles and keep up to date on the latest in Wisconsin sports, click here!
Numbers courtesy of Pointstreak.com & the American Association.