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Shaw paying dividends for Crew in career year

Offseason acquisition paces NL Central leaders in several offensive categories
MLB.com @ladsonbill24

One could argue that the Brewers made the Majors' best offseason deal when they acquired third baseman Travis Shaw as part of a five-player trade with the Red Sox on Dec. 6, 2016.

Known as the Mayor of Ding Dong City, a nickname coined by Barstool Sports in Boston because of his hot start early in the 2016 season, Shaw is having a season to remember and is one of the reasons the Crew entered the second half of the season with a 5 1/2-game lead over the Cubs and Cardinals in the National League Central.

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One could argue that the Brewers made the Majors' best offseason deal when they acquired third baseman Travis Shaw as part of a five-player trade with the Red Sox on Dec. 6, 2016.

Known as the Mayor of Ding Dong City, a nickname coined by Barstool Sports in Boston because of his hot start early in the 2016 season, Shaw is having a season to remember and is one of the reasons the Crew entered the second half of the season with a 5 1/2-game lead over the Cubs and Cardinals in the National League Central.

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Shaw leads the team's regulars in almost every offensive category, including RBIs and WAR (3.1), according to Baseball Reference. The Red Sox could sure use him right now after designating Pablo Sandoval for assignment on Friday, but Shaw declined to give this reporter an "I told you so" attitude.

"Boston is in the past," Shaw said in the Newsmakers podcast. "I came over to a team that wanted me and gave me a chance to play. The rest is history. I just want to get back on the good side of things. [I didn't like the way] last season finished off."

• Listen to the full podcast

Shaw said he is more relaxed this year because his wife, Lindy, recently gave birth to their daughter, Ryann.

"It puts a lot of things in perspective," Shaw said. "Baseball has become secondary to me now. It helped me relax. It's kind of a getaway at times."

On the field, the left-handed-hitting Shaw has he brought balance to a Brewers lineup that was right-handed heavy last year.

"He has been a great fit," said Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell. "The reason Travis was attractive from the beginning was because he was a left-handed middle-of-the-lineup bat, something we have been lacking for a while. With Domingo [Santana] and Ryan Braun [as the right-handed sluggers], getting a left-hander in the middle of the lineup was huge, creating balance against certain pitchers. That's what really happened. He has provided great balance so we could compete every day."

How much has Shaw improved? During the second half of 2016, Shaw had a .194 batting average and lost some playing time. He had that slump on his mind for most of the offseason. He noticed opposing teams were shifting to the right side of the diamond every time he came to the plate.

Things have changed now, and Shaw is hitting the ball all over the place.

Video: PIT@MIL: Shaw doubles home insurance run in the 7th

"I can tell [opposing teams] have noticed [I'm not a dead-pull hitter], because I'm not getting shifted this year," Shaw said. "Last year, I got shifted a lot. This year, they are not shifting me. If they do, I've been making them pay by hitting to the left side of the field."

Shaw comes from a baseball family. His father, Jeff, recorded 203 career saves as a Major League reliever in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Travis' biggest memory was going to the 2001 All-Star Game in Seattle with his dad. As a little kid, he ran around the clubhouse and met players such as Ken Griffey Jr., Ichiro Suzuki and Alex Rodriguez. That was a pretty impressive group of guys. But Jeff is Travis' biggest hero.

"He means the world to me," Travis said. "He shaped me in the way I am in a baseball way. He guided me to this point of my career. He has been through everything. … He guided me through the ups and downs that all baseball players go through."

Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002 and does a podcast, Newsmakers. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats.

Milwaukee Brewers, Travis Shaw