As the Cubs disintegrated into a million little pieces in the NL Wild Card race (sorry, Chicago), the Brewers could have easily gone the same way after losing Christian Yelich for the year on September 10. Instead, as teams with Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas tend to do, the Brew Crew rallied, winning that night, and then winning 13 of the next 15 to clinch the Wild Card. They’re one of the hottest and deepest teams in the National League. Meanwhile, the Nationals are fresh off bouncing their old buddy Bryce Harper’s Philadelphia Phillies, and with a front three like Scherzer, Strasburg, and Corbin, the Nats will be one of the most confident teams entering the MLB playoffs.
In this position-by-position breakdown, we’ll take a look at the Nationals and Brewers, and decide the winner based entirely on the almighty swag. What else?
In a matchup with just about anyone, Max Scherzer would be enough to tip the scales in the Nats favor. He’s the epitome of a bulldog, solidifying that status when he K’d 10 Phillies with a broken face.
Mad Max Scherzer is truly one of the most intimidating pitchers of this era. Number one of number ones. There’s a good chance he has no idea what swag is. That’s swag. Here he is making quick work of WPW on photo day:
Scherzer had some fire PE Trout 5s this year, too.
Stephen Strasburg follows right behind Scherzer in unhittable-ness, and it may surprise some that Strasburg has some of the best gear that Nike makes. Strasburg chatted with WPW a couple years back:
One of our favorite cleats of the year, Strasburg has his infant daughter’s feet as a pattern on his cleats. This is “Player Exclusive” Swag.
If Scherzer doesn’t go the distance, Strasburg will likely be next up in the winner-take-all, and that’s bad news for the Brewers.
Rounding out the Nationals three-headed monster, Patrick Corbin’s off-season signing flew under the radar as the departure of Bryce Harper grabbed headlines.
Corbin gave the Nats a 3-man rotation that is as good as any in the game right now. He may get his first crack at postseason baseball as a reliever since the NL Wild Card game an “all-hands-on-deck” affair. The Wilson B2 we saw in Spring Training was a perfect combo of black and red. Get it for $380 at Wilson.com.
Wild Card starter Brandon Woodruff introduced himself to the baseball world last year, as a hitter, in the NLCS.
Taking Clayton Kershaw dead central in a two-strike count, Woodruff backed up that pure lefty stroke with two shutdown innings for the “W” in the biggest game of his life. With an 11-3 record on the 2019 season, and the status as the only left-handed pitcher ever to take Kershaw deep, Woodruff does not lack for swag.
Two-time All-Star and the most electric pitcher of the 2018 MLB Postseason (ask Daniel Murphy), Josh Hader gives the Brewers a swag that no other National League team really has… that “Late-Inning Lead with a Wipeout Reliever in the Pen” swag. We’ve seen evidence that Hader is human, having given up 15 home runs on the year, but the smart money says Hader will be dominant again. Also, the arm sleeve tat / camo mesh Rawlings / flow = “Wild Horse Out of the Pen” Swag. Here’s the humble Hader in a locker tour with WPW this year:
View this post on Instagram
Gio Gonzalez, who was slept on this off-season, is back where he usually is… Pitching well on a good team, absolutely soaked in Jumpman swag. These Jordan XXXIV PEs came out of nowhere.
View this post on Instagram
Gio debuted the Jordan 1 cleat this year, which is now available at Nike.com.
Honorable Mention: Brent Suter, reliever who just won the NL Reliever of the Month award with a 0.49 ERA in the Brewers pivotal September. While writing this, I nearly convinced myself that the Brewers should get the edge here. Then I went back to the top and looked into Max Scherzer’s crazy eye.
Kurt Suzuki brings pre-WPW era swag, all the way back to his College World Series days with Cal State Fullerton, where he won the Brooks Wallace Award for the nation’s best player in the 2004 National Championship season for the Titans.
Suzuki has been a Nike contract player for as long as we can remember, and with the number of teams he’s played for, Kurt probably has more player exclusive Nike gear than anyone on the planet. The WPW follower wore (if not in games, in practice) the MLB’s first and only (we think) Nike catcher’s glove back in 2014. As far as catcher’s go, Suzuki is a swag legend.
Yasmani Grandal, another WPW follower on this list, recently dropped his Nike contract in favor of an equity partnership with Tyler Flowers’ Force3, the company behind the Defender mask (available in hockey style and traditional via Baseball Express) that has picked up a ton of traction in the MLB for its impact prevention properties. Exercising safety may not strike you as a swaggy thing to do, but on the other hand, getting concussed is not swaggy. I think we can all agree on that.
While Yaz brings “Equity Partnership” Swag that sets him apart from most Big League backstops, Kurt Suzuki has swag credentials that very few catchers ever achieve.
Ryan Zimmerman has “Fifteen in The Show / 1000 RBI Club” swag. Less than 300 men are in the 1000 RBI Club. His gear has mostly been forgettable, though his third base pattern is now the Kris Bryant pattern.
Matt Adams, WPW follower, deserves mention for the fact that he’s a WPW follower and he has a strong track record of Shoe Game. That first base mitt (above) is also sneaky fire. Howie Kendrick could also start at 1B, so its a deep position for the Nats.
Eric Thames’ elbow guard is an exact replica, to scale, of the state of Delaware. He wins.
WPW was on-field when Asdrubal Cabrera was still with the Rangers, and he quickly earned the honorable distinction of “Ugliest Batting Gloves of the Year.” These would be great if you were stranded on the side of the road and needed to wave down an emergency vehicle. Truly hideous and available for $40-$45 at FranklinSports.com.
Cabrera does regain some ground with this Rawlings 31 pattern, available at Rawlings.com for $360.
In an incredible year for National League rookies, Keston Hiura became one of the Brewers’ best players the moment he ran through that door. His .938 OPS trailed only Yordan Alvarez, Pete Alonso, and Fernando Tatis, Jr. among Big League rookies. Overshadowed by some all-time great rookie seasons, Hiura will have his chance to shine in the playoffs.
Hiura’s majestic leg lift resulted in an OPS that was 166 points better than Big Bad Vlad, for reference.
Still, the best of Hiura’s swag is yet to be seen. He was a great locker tour. Guys who give locker tours get bonus points.
Blind taste test: Player A – 1.010 OPS, 34 HR, 126 RBI / Player B – .882 OPS, 35 HR, 114 RBI
Player A is Anthony Rendon, and Player B is Bryce Harper. The easy-going-borderline-goofy Rendon put Bryce in his rear view and let the Nats hop on his back in 2019.
Rendon is an absolute baller who belongs in the conversation with Bregman, Bryant, Donaldson and Arenado as the best 3Bs in the game. To add to the swag, Rendon has Adidas PE’s with his initials and number sewn in, and this off-season Rendon will achieve the exceptionally rare “I Made a Quarter Billion Playing a Kid’s Game” Swag.
Mike Moustakas just wins. One of the steals of the off-season (again), Moose rakes, he makes all the plays, gets the uni dirty, hard 90, playoff beard, etc. etc. He’s an X-factor on a winning team and nobody should be surprised if he out-performs Rendon in this series.
Fastest player in baseball. Check.
Tremendous taste in leather. Check. (This Rawlings PRONP5-IKC 11.5″ beauty is a special order but you can get close for $360 on Rawlings.com.)
Lets WPW in his home to talk about gloves. Check. Long-time WPW follower and star shortstop for the Nationals, Trea Turner checks all the boxes. His 5-tool abilities might be the difference in this Wild Card game.
“Ears Tucked into the Hat” Swag is not a guarantee for all players who attempt it.
For the igniter shortstop of the Brewers, Orlando Arcia, its working.
Like Turner of the Nats, the WPW follower Arcia also has plenty of glove swag, like his grey trainer (above).
While we loved watching Arcia rake in last year’s playoff run and expect similar results, Trea’s got the juice.
Juan Soto, at 20 years old, is dominating in the MLB. The Acuña craze is warranted, but Soto might be better when its all said and done. He, along with Ted Williams, are the only players under 22 years old with 100 RBI, 100 runs, and 100 walks in the first 162 games of their career. That “In the Same Breath as Ted Williams” Swag.
You see a lot of guys thanking God as they’re rounding the bases or in post-game cliches, but how many do you see on their knees in prayer before the game starts. There’s a certain humility, gratitude and focus that Soto exudes that makes you forget that he’s not even old enough to drink.
If you get popped for steroids, lie to the country’s face about it, and try to throw an innocent guy under the bus, and then to put the cherry on top, you wear 3n2 cleats, you’ve zeroed out your swag rating for the foreseeable future.
Another star rookie in this game is Victor Robles, who runs like a deer in center, throws 100 (rounding up), and will be an absolute nightmare on the bags.
His Wilson is kinda wild, but it doesn’t match the uni. Royal is not navy. Attention to detail is key. (You can get something like it for $380 on Wilson.com)
Also, the cleat custom job is a little janky…
These @solesbysir jobs from Opening Day are way better. Not enough, though, for Robles.
You can just about guarantee you will see this move at some point, possibly over and over again, this postseason.
2014 ALCS MVP Lorenzo Cain, like teammate Moustakas, balls hardest when the lights are brightest.
Cain doesn’t fuss much with his gear, he just straps it on and flies all over the field. With his Wilson A2000 1799 in black, Cain has been one of the game’s best center fielders since 2014. Many in the game believe this will finally be the year that he earns his first Gold Glove. He most definitely deserves it.
There’s a chance Ben Gamel, with some of the best red-headed flow in the game, gets the start in place of Cain because of an injury to Cain’s leg.
If he does play, Gamel’s beard, flow and plus tatts (and his WPW followership) will make an instant swag impact.
Adam Eaton was the prize for Washington in a December 2016 deal that sent #1 prospect Lucas Giolito to the White Sox, and Eaton will get his first big chance for the Nationals in this Wild Card game. He’ll have plenty of opportunities the two-hole of a dangerous lineup. He’s clearly got sock swag, crushes the knee-high taper, and if the Nats can extend their stay, Eaton is a solid bet for Strongest Playoff Beard.
With Yelich down, the nod will likely go to Trent Grisham in right field for the Brewers. In AA in June, Grisham may be leading off versus the Nats. This bat flip is all the tape we could get on Grisham, and we’d give it a 6.2.