Jump to content
Brewer Fanatic
  • The Five Best First Basemen In Brewers History


    Harold Hutchison

    Coop. Prince. Boomer. Big Sexy. First base has seen some of the biggest icons over the 54 seasons of Milwaukee Brewers' history. If you were looking for some of the best offensive seasons in Brewers' history, they were often posted by first basemen.

    Image courtesy of © Benny Sieu, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    Brewers Video

    But which first basemen were the best the Brewers had manning the position? Let’s take a look at the top five.

    5. Greg Brock
    .261/.348/.387 with 39 HR and 243 RBI in 5 seasons

    Greg Brock was acquired before the 1987 season for Tim Leary and Tim Crews. That deal wasn’t too shabby as Brock was the primary starter for four seasons, and he filled the shoes of Cecil Cooper quite well, walking more than he struck out. He didn’t quite provide the power he hoped for, but he didn’t do poorly. He was released in the middle of the 1991 season.

    4. George Scott
    .283/.352/.486 with 115 HR, 463 RBI in 5 seasons

    “Boomer” delivered a lot of booms for the Brewers in the early 1970s as the franchise sought its footing, including the AL home run crown in 1975. Acquired in a deal that sent Tommy Harper to Boston, he made one All-Star Game appearance and earned five Gold Gloves with the Brewers. After 1976, he was dealt back to Boston for Cecil Cooper.

    3. Cecil Cooper
    .302/.339/.470 with 201 HR, 944 RBI in 11 seasons

    Cecil Cooper is arguably one of the Brewers' all-time greats. Acquired in the deal that sent George Scott to Boston, all he did was set single-season records for batting average, runs batted in, and OPS at some point in his career. Coop had five All-Star Game appearances, three Silver Sluggers, a Gold Glove, and three top-five MVP finishes, including one in 1982 – and we know who won the award that year.

    2. Richie Sexson
    .276/.366/.566 with 133 HR and 398 RBI in 3.5 seasons

    Richie Sexson was the primary first baseman for only three seasons. Still, what he lacked in longevity, he made up for by twice tying Gorman Thomas for the single-season record in home runs at 45 and coming close to matching Cooper’s single-season RBI record twice. After the 2003 season, the Brewers traded Sexson to Arizona, landing six players who later played roles with the team in one form or another.

    1. Prince Fielder
    .282/.390/.540 with 230 HR and 646 RBI in 6 seasons

    The top two single-season home run totals in Brewers history, the top single-season RBI mark in Brewers history. The Brewers’ all-time leader in OBP, SLG, and OPS. Prince Fielder held down first base, made two All-Star Game appearances, and had three top-five MVP finishes, including in 2011, when the Brewers made the NLCS. After that year, Fielder left as a free agent and went on to play for five more seasons before a neck injury ended his career.

    Honorable Mentions
    John Jaha was the primary first baseman for four seasons and delivered some big power numbers, but they could only stay healthy for part of the season. Lyle Overbay was known more for hitting a ton of doubles than for home runs but was well-loved during his two seasons in Milwaukee before Prince Fielder’s emergence forced a trade. Eric Thames was the primary first baseman for two of his three seasons in Milwaukee (he divvied up time in the outfield and first in 2018).

    Think you could write a story like this? Brewer Fanatic wants you to develop your voice, find an audience, and we'll pay you to do it. Just fill out this form.

    MORE FROM BREWER FANATIC
    — Latest Brewers coverage from our writers
    — Recent Brewers discussion in our forums
    — Follow Brewer Fanatic via Twitter, Facebook or email

     Share

     Share


    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments



    Featured Comments

    15 minutes ago, clancyphile said:

    Coop. Prince. Boomer. Big Sexy. First base has seen some of the biggest icons over the 54 seasons of Milwaukee Brewers' history. If you were looking for some of the best offensive seasons in Brewers' history, they were often posted by first basemen.

    author-tracker.gif author-tracker.gif
    prince-fielder-best-brewers-first-baseman.jpg.9984208d4e1afd8415ba4c2ba5a49c1f.jpg
    Image courtesy of © Benny Sieu, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    But which first basemen were the best the Brewers had manning the position? Let’s take a look at the top five.

    5. Greg Brock
    .261/.348/.387 with 39 HR and 243 RBI in 5 seasons

    Greg Brock was acquired before the 1987 season for Tim Leary and Tim Crews. That deal wasn’t too shabby as Brock was the primary starter for four seasons, and he filled the shoes of Cecil Cooper quite well, walking more than he struck out. He didn’t quite provide the power he hoped for, but he didn’t do poorly. He was released in the middle of the 1991 season.

    4. George Scott
    .283/.352/.486 with 115 HR, 463 RBI in 5 seasons

    “Boomer” delivered a lot of booms for the Brewers in the early 1970s as the franchise sought its footing, including the AL home run crown in 1975. Acquired in a deal that sent Tommy Harper to Boston, he made one All-Star Game appearance and earned five Gold Gloves with the Brewers. After 1976, he was dealt back to Boston for Cecil Cooper.

    3. Cecil Cooper
    .302/.339/.470 with 201 HR, 944 RBI in 11 seasons

    Cecil Cooper is arguably one of the Brewers' all-time greats. Acquired in the deal that sent George Scott to Boston, all he did was set single-season records for batting average, runs batted in, and OPS at some point in his career. Coop had five All-Star Game appearances, three Silver Sluggers, a Gold Glove, and three top-five MVP finishes, including one in 1982 – and we know who won the award that year.

    2. Richie Sexson
    .276/.366/.566 with 133 HR and 398 RBI in 3.5 seasons

    Richie Sexson was the primary first baseman for only three seasons. Still, what he lacked in longevity, he made up for by twice tying Gorman Thomas for the single-season record in home runs at 45 and coming close to matching Cooper’s single-season RBI record twice. After the 2003 season, the Brewers traded Sexson to Arizona, landing six players who later played roles with the team in one form or another.

    1. Prince Fielder
    .282/.390/.540 with 230 HR and 646 RBI in 6 seasons

    The top two single-season home run totals in Brewers history, the top single-season RBI mark in Brewers history. The Brewers’ all-time leader in OBP, SLG, and OPS. Prince Fielder held down first base, made two All-Star Game appearances, and had three top-five MVP finishes, including in 2011, when the Brewers made the NLCS. After that year, Fielder left as a free agent and went on to play for five more seasons before a neck injury ended his career.

    Honorable Mentions
    John Jaha was the primary first baseman for four seasons and delivered some big power numbers, but they could only stay healthy for part of the season. Lyle Overbay was known more for hitting a ton of doubles than for home runs but was well-loved during his two seasons in Milwaukee before Prince Fielder’s emergence forced a trade. Eric Thames was the primary first baseman for two of his three seasons in Milwaukee (he divvied up time in the outfield and first in 2018).

     

    View full article

     

    Greg Brock? That is really scraping the bottom of the barrel, maybe these should be Top 3 lists? Besides, Paul Molitor made 140 starts at 1B for the Brewers, while not a regular at 1B was certainly a better player than Greg Brock. Ditto Mark Loretta who made 150+ starts at 1B as a Brewer.  John Jaha was a way better hitter and made approximately 450 starts at 1B for the Brewers not too many fewer than Brock (approx 490), yet he warrants only honorable mention....boy tough crowd. 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Brock on the list?  Nope.

    I'm ok with Prince being #1, but Cooper should be #2 if not # 1b.  I'd have even been comfortable with Cooper at #1 and Prince 1b.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    1 hour ago, Jopal78 said:

    Greg Brock? That is really scraping the bottom of the barrel, maybe these should be Top 3 lists? Besides, Paul Molitor made 140 starts at 1B for the Brewers, while not a regular at 1B was certainly a better player than Greg Brock. Ditto Mark Loretta who made 150+ starts at 1B as a Brewer.  John Jaha was a way better hitter and made approximately 450 starts at 1B for the Brewers not too many fewer than Brock (approx 490), yet he warrants only honorable mention....boy tough crowd. 

    Brock averaged 122 games a season as primary starter, never fewer than 107. Jaha averaged 118, and when he was healthy for a full season, he was good. But in 1994 and 1995, he was in a total of 172 games.

    I went with Brock by hair for the slightly better reliability. It's really a big four at first of Fielder-Sexson-Cooper-Scott and then...

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Coop and Prince are definitely 1-2 in some order, no one else ends up particularly close. Scott and Sexson make sense in the 3rd and 4th spots. 

    • Like 1
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    29 minutes ago, igor67 said:

    Coop and Prince are definitely 1-2 in some order, no one else ends up particularly close. Scott and Sexson make sense in the 3rd and 4th spots. 

    That's where I land as well. I give Cooper a razors' edge over Prince due to range & a little more longevity. Then there's a chasm. It's interesting to note that Scott was originally acquired to man 3rd base.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    4 minutes ago, Jim French Stepstool said:

    That's where I land as well. I give Cooper a razors' edge over Prince due to range & a little more longevity. Then there's a chasm. It's interesting to note that Scott was originally acquired to man 3rd base.

    On a per-season basis, Sexson posted 40 HR and 117 RBI during his time with the Crew. In two of his three seasons, he tied the then-single-season record set by Gorman Thomas. Coop and Scott don't come close on that measure. Coop's longevity was in his favor, but Sexson was just incredible.

    Prince's 2009 season eclipses those, maybe Yelich's 2018/2019, perhaps Prince 2007. But not many others.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    3 minutes ago, clancyphile said:

    On a per-season basis, Sexson posted 40 HR and 117 RBI during his time with the Crew. In two of his three seasons, he tied the then-single-season record set by Gorman Thomas. Coop and Scott don't come close on that measure. Coop's longevity was in his favor, but Sexson was just incredible.

    Prince's 2009 season eclipses those, maybe Yelich's 2018/2019, perhaps Prince 2007. But not many others.

    3 full seasons for Sexson, as opposed to Coopers' 10.5 ( I consider 1987 as a half-year swan song) is a large determinant for me. Sexson was a power guy, and a monumentally good one while here. But i'll take Coopers' numbers for a decade playing in what was largely considered a pitchers' park.

    • Like 2
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    This "analysis" doesn't consider the context of the offenses across MLB during the time these players played. If you do (and you only consider guys who had been the Brewers 1B for 3+ years) and you look at something like WAR, the order should go:

    1. Cooper

    2. Scott

    3. Fielder

    4. Sexson.

    beyond that, there were several guys who had one excellent year as a brewers' first basemen, but Greg Brock shouldn't be in the top 8 (his peak WAR was 1.8, and his other years were much worse). If you forced me to pick a 5th, I'd take John Jaha.

     

    • Like 2
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Someone almost tricked me into picking Cooper because of longevity…but now I look at it and Cecil Cooper was total trash the last four years he was a Brewer. So then it is basically 6 years versus 7 years.

    I think the answer is comfortably Prince Fielder. He was the better hitter and dWAR would tell me both sucked on defense. I think Fielder gets bonus points for actually being a homegrown guy, watching him come through the minors, and then mash they way he did. You can’t even name a down time or bad part of his career. His minimum games played in a year was 157(!!!!). His entire career is great start to end with us.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    38 minutes ago, MrTPlush said:

    Someone almost tricked me into picking Cooper because of longevity…but now I look at it and Cecil Cooper was total trash the last four years he was a Brewer. So then it is basically 6 years versus 7 years.

    I think the answer is comfortably Prince Fielder. He was the better hitter and dWAR would tell me both sucked on defense. I think Fielder gets bonus points for actually being a homegrown guy, watching him come through the minors, and then mash they way he did. You can’t even name a down time or bad part of his career. His minimum games played in a year was 157(!!!!). His entire career is great start to end with us.

    In looking at his last four seasons, I see two things: His productivity certainly wasn't at the level of his first 6-7 years (if they were he'd probably be a HOF shoo-in), and we have distinctly different definitions of "total trash".

    Other than that, I have no problem with someone putting Fielder tops on the list. I'm just not in that camp.

    • Like 2
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    39 minutes ago, MrTPlush said:

    and dWAR would tell me both sucked on defense.

    dWAR includes positional adjustment so both are dragged down by playing 1B. Cooper played more innings so he gets a -88 positional adjustment versus only a -54 for Prince.

    Looking at their actual glove work, Cooper graded out at +8 fielding runs with Milwaukee, Fielder graded out at -76 fielding runs.

    • Like 2
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    4 hours ago, clancyphile said:

    On a per-season basis, Sexson posted 40 HR and 117 RBI during his time with the Crew. In two of his three seasons, he tied the then-single-season record set by Gorman Thomas. Coop and Scott don't come close on that measure. Coop's longevity was in his favor, but Sexson was just incredible.

    Prince's 2009 season eclipses those, maybe Yelich's 2018/2019, perhaps Prince 2007. But not many others.

    As someone else noted, era adjustments are a thing. For what it is worth, Sexson’s best offensive season ranks ninth among Brewers primary first basemen in wRC+ behind three Fielder seasons, three Cooper seasons and two Scott seasons.

    And the guy who is tops on that list for individual seasons other than those four hasn’t even been mentioned.

    Also, I have good memories of Brock because his best year coincided with my first year as a big baseball fan, but Jaha is number five. I think you can safely slot Overbay ahead of him too.

    • Like 2
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    01 Coop 78-83: 3645 PA | 142 OPS+ | +13 BSR | +7 FLD | 27.3 WAR
    (has the longevity and the best peak)

    02 Scott 72-76: 3320 PA | 131 OPS+ | -11 BSR | +42 FLD | 22.6 WAR
    (massive edge in FLD/BSR [+110 total runs] worth more than the 20 points of OPS+)  

    03 Prince 07-11: 3500 PA | 151 OPS+ | -25 BSR | -54 FLD | 17.5 WAR
    (best hitter of the bunch, worst base runner and fielder by a considerable margin. #1 DH)

    04 Richie 00-03: 2288 PA | 133 OPS+ | -13 BSR | -11 FLD | 11.3 WAR
    (best hair, but longevity doesn't match up)

    05 Jaha 92-97: 3285 PA | 113 OPS+ | -2 BSR | -7 FLD | 8.7 WAR
    HM to Seitzer [109 OPS+ | 10.5 WAR] but he played more 3B [176 G] than 1B [145 G]

    Granted it was only 131 games spread over three seasons, but Molitor's splits as a 1B are pretty crazy too & probably good enough for the #5 spot on the list...

    1990 (season: 807 OPS | 125 OPS+)
    1B: 308/369/493 (862 OPS) ~140 OPS+
    2B: 287/338/466 (804 OPS)

    1991 (season: 888 OPS | 147 OPS+)
    1B: 333/420/524 (944 OPS) ~165 OPS+
    DH: 321/391/475 (865 OPS)

    1992 (season: 851 OPS | 140 OPS+)
    1B: 371/419/541 (960 OPS) ~165 OPS+
    DH: 298/378/426 (804 OPS)

    Molitor put up a total of 13.3 WAR from 1990-92 with a third of his games at 1B, so that is a 4.5 WAR baseline. Throw in how much better he hit as a 1B over that time frame and you're probably talking about something like 6 WAR in those 131 G / 596 PA at 1B.

    • Like 1
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    1 hour ago, CheeseheadInQC said:

    As someone else noted, era adjustments are a thing. For what it is worth, Sexson’s best offensive season ranks ninth among Brewers primary first basemen in wRC+ behind three Fielder seasons, three Cooper seasons and two Scott seasons.

    And the guy who is tops on that list for individual seasons other than those four hasn’t even been mentioned.

    Also, I have good memories of Brock because his best year coincided with my first year as a big baseball fan, but Jaha is number five. I think you can safely slot Overbay ahead of him too.

    Does Hegan's 1969 count as a Brewer? I mean yes but also maybe not?

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    2 hours ago, Jim French Stepstool said:

    In looking at his last four seasons, I see two things: His productivity certainly wasn't at the level of his first 6-7 years (if they were he'd probably be a HOF shoo-in), and we have distinctly different definitions of "total trash".

    Other than that, I have no problem with someone putting Fielder tops on the list. I'm just not in that camp.

    His ‘85 wasn’t bad, but he still only put up 1.7 WAR. The last two years he is in the negatives.

    All said and done he average 0.15 WAR over those four years.

    I am certainly not giving him brownie points for longevity when that is what he did. I guess if I was going to give a guy some credit for longevity I think of a Ryan Braun. Who, despite falling off, still managed an OPS+ over 100 every year of he career and never ended up being worthless any year he had played. 
     

    Does not quite seem right to give a guy credit for longevity when, in retrospect, the team would have been way better off had he not been on the team any more. It didn’t really add anything to his legacy. 

     

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    42 minutes ago, endaround said:

    Does Hegan's 1969 count as a Brewer? I mean yes but also maybe not?

    Honestly, I put my cut off randomly at 400 AB (I should have mentioned that) so he wasn’t even on my radar.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    2 hours ago, CheeseheadInQC said:

    Honestly, I put my cut off randomly at 400 AB (I should have mentioned that) so he wasn’t even on my radar.

    Not that this guy would've been on the radar either, but actually their primary 1B in '69 was Don Mincher. Hit 27 dingers too. I believe Hegan spent quite a bit of time in the OF that season, then got hurt.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    9 hours ago, MrTPlush said:

    He was the better hitter and dWAR would tell me both sucked on defense.

    This is why I don't trust dWAR at all.  Baseball-reference has him listed at -1.1 on a year he won the golden glove.  He was good defensively, and outstanding at the most critical skill for a first baseman - catching the ball thrown by infielders.  Not only could he stretch to the point of doing the splits to catch it that much sooner to beat the runner, but balls in the dirt rarely got by him.  Replace him with an average 1B in 82 and Yount probably has a dozen more errors and doesn't win his GG.

    If you want to say that Prince was better overall because his OBP and slugging were better enough to make up for his defensive limitations, that's a fair argument.  But there is no comparison between the two defensively.  I'll put Cooper at the top of my list because of the total package.  And you can't beat 10's of thousands of people screaming COOOOOOOOOOOP when he came to the plate.

    • Like 2
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    2 minutes ago, MadScientist said:

    This is why I don't trust dWAR at all.  Baseball-reference has him listed at -1.1 on a year he won the golden glove.

    dWAR includes positional adjustment, -9 runs for Coop in 1979. Even the best fielding 1B often end up with negative dWAR due to that positional adjustment.

    From 1977-82 Total Zone credits Coop with +18 runs with the glove, but his fielding fell off just like his bat at the end of his career with -10 runs from 1983-87.

    • Like 1
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites




    Join the conversation

    You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
    Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

    Guest
    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...