Ryan Braun, Fielder offer a combo punch rarely seen

On the radio the other day, the host asked me about the fairness of comparing the remarkable seasons Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are having to anything simultaneously put up by the legendary duo of Robin Yount and Paul Molitor.

What? Why, that's outrageously unfair, I wanted to say.

Yount and Molitor are in the Hall of Fame. Yount won two most valuable players. They both helped get the Brewers to a World Series.
On second thought, here's the immediate answer:

Savor this season, Brewers fans, because if these guys stay healthy, you're probably never going to see another 1-2 hammer quite like this, ever.

Two games short of the 2011 halfway point, no National League duo has more than their combined 37 homers and 127 RBI. They're both hitting better than .300. They're both leading MVP candidates at this point. They're both going to be on the All-Star team. And they're both just 27 years old.

A better, and similarly unfair, comparison would be to Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews. Together, they have a world championship, one MVP and two Cooperstown plaques to show for careers that included extended Milwaukee stays.

In 1959, Mathews had 46 home runs and 114 RBI. Aaron had 39 and 123. The next season, Aaron was 40 and 126; Mathews, 39 and 124.
Nevertheless, these are numbers of which Braun and Fielder are capable. They've certainly done it before.

In 2007, Fielder hit 50 home runs and drove in 119. Braun went 34, 97 and hit .324. In '08, Braun finished third in MVP voting with 37 homers and 106 RBI. The Brewers got to the playoffs with Fielder hitting 34 homers and driving in 102.

Two years ago, Fielder led the league in RBI with 141 while hitting 46 dingers. Braun batted .320 with 32 homers, 114 RBI and was 11th in MVP voting.

I know, the numbers get to the point where they tend to anesthetize even the most casual observer. After awhile, the numbers aren't even the point.

It's the timing that matters. Here in what could be Fielder's last season with the Brewers, they're putting it together when everything else is coming together.

On a gorgeous Sunday afternoon before another capacity crowd at Miller Park, the possibilities were again on full display. A 6-2 victory and a series sweep of the Minnesota Twins, and now the Brewers have a three-game lead in the division.

"Better than a no-game lead," Fielder said.

As usual, a lot of things conspired to make it happen. The fifth starter, Chris Narveson, pitched quite well, drove in a run and laid down a timely sacrifice bunt. Nyjer Morgan had another big hit. Yuniesky Betancourt and Jonathan Lucroy were a big part of a bottom of the order that punished the beat-up Twins, who showed their Rochester Red Wings side.

And, as usual, Braun and Fielder had their fingerprints all over it. Extending his career-high hitting streak to 17 games in the fifth inning, Braun lasered a two-run shot over left-center field that pretty much established the day's texture. In the seventh, Fielder drove home Braun.

"Now it's on to New York to see if we can have a good series there," Fielder said.

On to Yankee Stadium, where the greatest 1-2 punch in the history of the game once played. In 1927, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig combined for 107 homers and 339 RBI. That was one of their standard years.

Good thing for the Brewers, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf will only see the monuments to Ruth and Gehrig should they so choose. The Yankees' staff, including old pal CC Sabathia on Thursday, cannot avoid Braun and Fielder.

Yankee Stadium, 15 road victories, whatever, you've got to like the Brewers' chances from here as long as those guys continue at the pace the likes of which this place has rarely seen.

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