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  • The Five Best Second Basemen In Brewers History


    Harold Hutchison

    Several Brewers have dazzled at second base in the 54 seasons the franchise has existed. Some of the fans’ favorite Brewers held down the keystone of the infield, whether it was outstanding offense, dazzling defense, or just solid standbys. Which ones were the best?

    Image courtesy of © Benny Sieu, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via Imagn Content Services, LLC

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    Without further ado, we should jump into the list.

    5.  Jim Gantner
    .274/.319/.351 with 47 HR and 568 RBI in 17 seasons

    "Gumby" was the primary starter at second base for nine seasons and added two more as the primary third baseman for the Brewers. Gantner made contact and provided web gems decades before YouTube existed, but his offensive limitations were evident simultaneously. He never won a Gold Glove or made the All-Star Game, and for three full seasons (1988-1990), he did not hit a single home run. But Gantner’s longevity puts him in the top five.

    4. Ronnie Belliard
    .263/.341./.396 with 30 HR and 170 RBI in 4 seasons

    In three seasons as the primary starter at second base, Ronnie Belliard delivered a lot of doubles and very solid on-base skills. Belliard wasn’t flashy on offense, but he was solid. His biggest problem – he followed Fernando Vina, a fan favorite. The Brewers let Belliard walk as a free agent after the 2002 season, and he ended up providing solid production for the Rockies, Guardians, Nationals, and Dodgers after he left Milwaukee.

    3. Paul Molitor
    .300/.349/.428 with 24 HR and 144 RBI in 3 seasons at 2B
    .303/.367/.411 with 160 HR and 790 RBI in 15 seasons

    Brewers fans can always wonder what would have been had Paul Molitor never been moved from second base. In the three seasons he played at second base, he was second place for Rookie of the Year, 20th place for MVP, and received the first of five selections for the All-Star Game. While his greatest glory for the Brewers came at third base and designated hitter, Molitor was an excellent second baseman. Brewers fans can only wonder what might have been had he not been moved to center field and eventually third base.

    2. Fernando Vina
    .286/.349/.389 with 22 HR and 164 RBI in 5 seasons

    Fearless Fernando – best known for taking on Albert Belle in an infamous collision – was no slouch at second base. Acquired as a player to be named later in the trade that sent Doug Henry to the Mets, his superb on-base skills and speed (26 triples and 57 steals) provided the offensive spark, and he secured an All-Star Game appearance. He secured two Gold Gloves following a trade to the Cardinals, where he posted a .794 OPS in three consecutive postseasons.

    1. Rickie Weeks
    .249/.347/.424 with 161 HR and 474 RBI in 11 seasons

    Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder famously hit their first major-league home runs in the same game, and for 11 seasons, Weeks provided outstanding offense for the Brewers. Injuries limited his overall success with the team, and he had only one All-Star appearance. The second overall pick in the 2003 draft, Weeks could obliterate opposing pitchers at the plate or burn other teams on the base paths (126 stolen bases). Far and away, Weeks was the best to play second base for the Brewers.

    Honorable Mentions
    Ron Theobald delivered outstanding OBP skills during two seasons as the primary second baseman before a sudden retirement. Willie Randolph was a one-season wonder for the Crew in 1991. Kolten Wong provided two outstanding seasons for the Brewers before being traded to Seattle.

    What are your thoughts, Brewer Fanatics? Give us your top five second basemen in franchise history.

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    01 Molitor (116 OPS+ and 12.1 WAR as primary 2B from 78-80)

    02 Gantner (Longevity King, 22.4 WAR with +36 FLD)

    03 Weeks (12.4 WAR with the -115 FLD killing most of the value his bat provided)

    04 Wong (114 OPS+ and 6.4 WAR)

    05 Randolph (126 OPS+ and 4.3 WAR)

    HM: Loretta (92 OPS+ | 5.9 WAR), Vina (90 OPS+ | 6.0 WAR), Belliard (90 OPS+ | 5.8 WAR)

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    I can't help but wonder if Luis Urias will belong on this list by the end of his Brewers tenure if he ends up moving over to 2b, which appears likely.  I envision him doing really well there for us.

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    4 hours ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

    I just realized that no Brewer second baseman ever accumulated even 20 fWAR while in Milwaukee. Gantner came really close at 19.5.

    Having really only followed the Brewers from 1984 on, I never felt impressed by Gantner. Weeks, far and away was the most impressive. You just KNEW something good could happen at the plate in any given AB. Vina was scrappy. Molitor... well, imagine if he'd never moved from second.

    The rest... hard to really set anyone apart. Urias could be one contender. Turang another. Hiura had a shot after 2019... but slumped a lot in 2021 after showing power in 2020 (wonder if he'd not fallen for the launch-angle fad, if he'd have been better).

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    58 minutes ago, clancyphile said:

    Having really only followed the Brewers from 1984 on, I never felt impressed by Gantner. Weeks, far and away was the most impressive. You just KNEW something good could happen at the plate in any given AB. Vina was scrappy. Molitor... well, imagine if he'd never moved from second.

    The rest... hard to really set anyone apart. Urias could be one contender. Turang another. Hiura had a shot after 2019... but slumped a lot in 2021 after showing power in 2020 (wonder if he'd not fallen for the launch-angle fad, if he'd have been better).

    Gantner was a really good defensive second baseman.  Weeks was most talented but he never lived up to it.  He cost them a lot of runs by failing to complete double plays with errant throws.

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    Kinda one of those rankings that shouldn’t exist because no one is deserving of the honor.

    I think Weeks is a bit harshly unloved because A) people love to rip on guys over defense and B) he got an extension that people didn’t feel he lived up to.

    I think the injury issues unfortunately plagued him in his career. The way fans treated him towards the end was kind of sad, considering his contract was hardly that large. Sometimes I feel like we should be thankful any player wants to be in Milwaukee for over a decade. He was a great homegrown player player. He was an absolutely electric lead off hitter for years.

    I feel like this comes down to nostalgia. If you grew up watching Ganter you probably pick him, if not, you go Weeks.

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    The tough thing about these lists is when you have someone who played multiple spots. Where do you put him? Heck, there are Brewer fans in their early 40s who don't remember Robin Yount as a shortstop.

    If Molitor is considered a 2B IMO it's him & not particularly close. Weeks, despite not living up to his draft rep, did some solid work with the bat. He worked really hard to improve what was a weak glove. But 2B isn't a position where you can overlook defense. All considered I think you can put him, Gantner, and Vina in a dice cup & shake 'em out in whatever order.

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    11 hours ago, Jim French Stepstool said:

    The tough thing about these lists is when you have someone who played multiple spots. Where do you put him? Heck, there are Brewer fans in their early 40s who don't remember Robin Yount as a shortstop.

    If Molitor is considered a 2B IMO it's him & not particularly close. Weeks, despite not living up to his draft rep, did some solid work with the bat. He worked really hard to improve what was a weak glove. But 2B isn't a position where you can overlook defense. All considered I think you can put him, Gantner, and Vina in a dice cup & shake 'em out in whatever order.

    I think you have to pick a position for Molitor and that is what he is for these kinds of rankings. Either A) the one he played the most or B) the one he played at during his prime years. Which either way is Third Base.

    You can't win both the AL and NL awards and you can't exactly win a gold glove at multiple positions in a single year. 

    Yes, I know, I thought way over the top on that debacle. 

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    7 minutes ago, MrTPlush said:

    I think you have to pick a position for Molitor and that is what he is for these kinds of rankings. Either A) the one he played the most or B) the one he played at during his prime years. Which either way is Third Base.

    You can't win both the AL and NL awards and you can't exactly win a gold glove at multiple positions in a single year. 

    Yes, I know, I thought way over the top on that debacle. 

    Molitor is the best 2B and 3B just like Yount is the best SS and CF in franchise history.

    Sure, that might be tricky filling out a lineup card (give me Cirillo at 3B & Gomez in CF), but for the purpose of lists like these I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the players who were objectively the best at each position to be in the #1 spot for that position.

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    31 minutes ago, sveumrules said:

    Molitor is the best 2B and 3B just like Yount is the best SS and CF in franchise history.

    Sure, that might be tricky filling out a lineup card (give me Cirillo at 3B & Gomez in CF), but for the purpose of lists like these I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the players who were objectively the best at each position to be in the #1 spot for that position.

    Yeah, there are a half dozen ways to compile these lists. They're a fun read but must always be taken with the caveat "these are my own self-imposed rules I am following, feel free to make your own rules on your own list". Does a player qualify for only one position or multiple? Is peak or career more important? How much does Brewer career vs overall career matter? Lots of different ways to look at these things, all are valid.

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    6 hours ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

    Yeah, there are a half dozen ways to compile these lists. They're a fun read but must always be taken with the caveat "these are my own self-imposed rules I am following, feel free to make your own rules on your own list". Does a player qualify for only one position or multiple? Is peak or career more important? How much does Brewer career vs overall career matter? Lots of different ways to look at these things, all are valid.

    I've always liked to look at it from a "fill out a lineup card" perspective, which of course eliminates someone from winning two spots. I like TPlushs' idea of going by longevity at a position or where you spent your prime years. Of course that disqualifies Molitor at 2B which would conveniently open up 3B for Cirillo. As you said, all methods have validity. For the record, if Molitor isn't eligible at 2B then to put it in a "division standings" format Vina is my 1st place guy, with Gantner percentage points behind & Weeks about a game back.

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    Fernando Vina will always be known for stealing my friend's girlfriend.

    My friend was on the baseball team at UWM and was driving a 1979 Ford Fairmont.  Vina was on the Brewers making six figures.  Early life lesson on how (most) women go for fame and money.

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