The Milwaukee Brewers can thank the St. Louis Cardinals for production at the top of their lineup this season.
Second baseman Kolten Wong, a first-round pick by the Cardinals in 2011, spent the first eight years of his career in St. Louis. The Cardinals declined his $12.5 million option for the 2021 season and gave him a $1 million buyout, making Wong a free agent where he ultimately decided to stay in the National League Central and play for the Milwaukee Brewers.
One-hundred games (93 starts) into his Brewers career, Wong has hit out of the leadoff position every contest he’s started, all at second base. The 30-year-old is batting .281/.342/.464 and logging career bests in home runs (13), slugging percentage (.464), OPS (.806) and OPS+ (114).
Meanwhile, St. Louis turned to Tommy Edman to be its primary second baseman and leadoff hitter. Edman is batting .262/.310/.393 (.702 OPS) in 141 tilts and doesn’t boast two Gold Gloves at second base like Wong.
Again, thank you St. Louis.
On Sunday, Wong crushed a pair of home runs out of the leadoff spot in the Brewers’ 11-1 rout of Cleveland. It boosted his extra-base hit total to 42, which is the third-most in the NL among leadoff hitters trailing Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts (48) and Atlanta superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. (44).
Milwaukee hasn’t seen more extra-base hits out of the leadoff position since infielder Jonathan Villar tallied 51 (18 homers, 16 doubles, two triples) in 2016.
Wong and the Brewers begin a quick two-game interleague set with the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night.
In nine career games against the Tigers, Wong is batting 8-for-32 (.250) with one double and three dingers. Detroit is one of five American League teams he’s swatted multiple big flies against. So, we can safely assume the leadoff hitter will add to his total of 42 extra-base hits the next two days.
-- Milwaukee ranks third in the big leagues with a 3.26 ERA since the All-Star break behind the Dodgers (2.61) and San Francisco (3.26). It’s the fourth-lowest second-half ERA posted by the Brewers in club annals. The 1992 squad is the only team to have an ERA under 3 (2.90) after the break.
-- Since the All-Star break, Milwaukee leads MLB with a .283 batting average with runners in scoring position. Despite their 68-76 record, the Tigers actually rank third in that span (.278).
-- The Brewers traded for infielder Jonathan Schoop in 2018 and he logged a .577 OPS in 46 contests. This season, Schoop is batting .281/.320/.441 (.761 OPS) for Detroit with 20 home runs. He also is second in baseball with 28 hits in interleague games.
Statistics courtesy Sportradar