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  1. When CC Sabathia arrived in Milwaukee in early July of 2008, he didn’t say, “Get on my back. I’m carrying this club.” But he may as well have done so. Sabathia had one of the greatest half-seasons of baseball in club history. Over 17 starts, he was an absolute workhorse - carrying the Brewers into the playoffs for the first time in 26 years. It was a magical - if short-lived - time for Brewer fans. Image courtesy of Brewer Fanatic Carsten Charles Sabathia - aka CC - was born in Vallejo, California, in 1980. He was an outstanding high school athlete, receiving scholarship offers to play football and baseball. But professional baseball was Sabathia’s path after being selected in the 1st round (20th overall) by the Cleveland Guardians in the 1998 draft. CC Sabathia moved quickly through Cleveland's minor league system - skipping AAA ball - and heading to the majors after only three seasons. He won 17 games as a 20-year-old rookie - and went on to anchor Cleveland’s rotation for the next seven and a half years. He was named to three All-Star teams and won the 2007 AL Cy Young award. However, the 2008 Guardians struggled to a 37-46 record through June of that season, causing speculation that Sabathia - who was scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the season - would be dealt. Cleveland was, after all, a small market team and didn’t want to lose Sabathia for simple draft compensation. And thus, on July 8, Cleveland shocked the baseball world by dealing the big lefthander. Many had expected the Guardians to trade Sabathia at the deadline - and to a big market club. But the Brewers stepped up to the plate - offering a package of Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley, Zach Jackson, and Rob Bryson. LaPorta - a power-hitting first baseman - was considered the big prize for Cleveland. The Brewers were 50-40 at the time of the trade, and General Manager Doug Melvin saw Sabathia as the missing ingredient to getting Milwaukee back into the playoffs. The result was a glorious three months for the Brewers and their success-starved fans and Sabathia was at the center of it all. In that time, he started 17 games, won 11 of them, tossed 130.2 innings, seven complete games, three shutouts, and even hit a solid .229 with a home run. The apex of Sabathia’s season was on September 28, 2008. It was the year's final game, and Sabathia took the ball on four days' rest with the Brewers' season on the line. The result was a 3-1 Brewer victory over the Cubs, with Sabathia going all nine innings while surrendering only four hits. The Brewers clinched the wild card spot about an hour later when the Mets lost - sending the blue and gold confetti down from Miller Park’s rafters to the cheers of tens of thousands of fans who had stayed to watch the Mets-Marlins game on the stadium Jumbotron. The author of this article was at that magical game - and can attest that it was one of the most exhilarating moments in Brewer history. CC Sabathia had come to Milwaukee and carried the club into the playoffs for the first time since 1982. Sadly, that was the end of the Brewers' run that season. The Crew lost to Philadelphia in the playoffs, Sabathia losing his only start. And that ended CC Sabathia’s short but memorable, run in Milwaukee. While fans hoped Sabathia would return to the club, most everyone knew the man was set on free agency. The result was a big deal with the New York Yankees. Sabathia spent 11 seasons in the Bronx - maintaining his dominating ways for the first four years with the club. He was named to three more All-Star teams and MVP of the 2009 ALCS. That same year, Sabathia won a World Series. Unfortunately, injuries, wear and tear, and other health issues - including a battle with drinking - eroded Sabathia’s skills, and he went from a dominant pitcher to a solid one for the rest of his career. He retired after the 2019 season, finishing with 251 wins and 61.8 bWAR - which may get him in the Hall of Fame someday. Since retiring from baseball, Sabathia has been heavily involved in charity work and has a podcast with sportscaster Ryan Ruocco. It is hard to imagine how critical CC Sabathia was to the Brewers in 2008. The club had missed out on the playoffs for more than a quarter of a century - and the fans were desperate to get back into postseason play. That would not have been possible without Sabathia’s monumental achievements of that summer. And while Sabathia did leave after the season, hardly anyone begrudged the man the opportunity. He had given his heart, soul, and body to the team - and to this day, fans are grateful for that impressive run. In the end, some argue the deal for Sabathia was for naught. We didn’t even win a playoff series - much less a World Series. And the cost was high - and not because we gave up one of the game’s top prospects - Matt LaPorta - who turned out to be a bust. No, one of the extra guys in the deal - Michael Brantley - turned out to be an All-Star. Brantley has gone on to be a five-time All-Star - and a career .298 hitter. No matter, CC Sabathia’s brief run in Milwaukee was a fantastic time in Brewer history. And it may have been Sabathia’s greatest stint in his remarkable career - which is saying a lot. Please share your memories of former Brewer pitcher CC Sabathia. View full article
  2. Carsten Charles Sabathia - aka CC - was born in Vallejo, California, in 1980. He was an outstanding high school athlete, receiving scholarship offers to play football and baseball. But professional baseball was Sabathia’s path after being selected in the 1st round (20th overall) by the Cleveland Guardians in the 1998 draft. CC Sabathia moved quickly through Cleveland's minor league system - skipping AAA ball - and heading to the majors after only three seasons. He won 17 games as a 20-year-old rookie - and went on to anchor Cleveland’s rotation for the next seven and a half years. He was named to three All-Star teams and won the 2007 AL Cy Young award. However, the 2008 Guardians struggled to a 37-46 record through June of that season, causing speculation that Sabathia - who was scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the season - would be dealt. Cleveland was, after all, a small market team and didn’t want to lose Sabathia for simple draft compensation. And thus, on July 8, Cleveland shocked the baseball world by dealing the big lefthander. Many had expected the Guardians to trade Sabathia at the deadline - and to a big market club. But the Brewers stepped up to the plate - offering a package of Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley, Zach Jackson, and Rob Bryson. LaPorta - a power-hitting first baseman - was considered the big prize for Cleveland. The Brewers were 50-40 at the time of the trade, and General Manager Doug Melvin saw Sabathia as the missing ingredient to getting Milwaukee back into the playoffs. The result was a glorious three months for the Brewers and their success-starved fans and Sabathia was at the center of it all. In that time, he started 17 games, won 11 of them, tossed 130.2 innings, seven complete games, three shutouts, and even hit a solid .229 with a home run. The apex of Sabathia’s season was on September 28, 2008. It was the year's final game, and Sabathia took the ball on four days' rest with the Brewers' season on the line. The result was a 3-1 Brewer victory over the Cubs, with Sabathia going all nine innings while surrendering only four hits. The Brewers clinched the wild card spot about an hour later when the Mets lost - sending the blue and gold confetti down from Miller Park’s rafters to the cheers of tens of thousands of fans who had stayed to watch the Mets-Marlins game on the stadium Jumbotron. The author of this article was at that magical game - and can attest that it was one of the most exhilarating moments in Brewer history. CC Sabathia had come to Milwaukee and carried the club into the playoffs for the first time since 1982. Sadly, that was the end of the Brewers' run that season. The Crew lost to Philadelphia in the playoffs, Sabathia losing his only start. And that ended CC Sabathia’s short but memorable, run in Milwaukee. While fans hoped Sabathia would return to the club, most everyone knew the man was set on free agency. The result was a big deal with the New York Yankees. Sabathia spent 11 seasons in the Bronx - maintaining his dominating ways for the first four years with the club. He was named to three more All-Star teams and MVP of the 2009 ALCS. That same year, Sabathia won a World Series. Unfortunately, injuries, wear and tear, and other health issues - including a battle with drinking - eroded Sabathia’s skills, and he went from a dominant pitcher to a solid one for the rest of his career. He retired after the 2019 season, finishing with 251 wins and 61.8 bWAR - which may get him in the Hall of Fame someday. Since retiring from baseball, Sabathia has been heavily involved in charity work and has a podcast with sportscaster Ryan Ruocco. It is hard to imagine how critical CC Sabathia was to the Brewers in 2008. The club had missed out on the playoffs for more than a quarter of a century - and the fans were desperate to get back into postseason play. That would not have been possible without Sabathia’s monumental achievements of that summer. And while Sabathia did leave after the season, hardly anyone begrudged the man the opportunity. He had given his heart, soul, and body to the team - and to this day, fans are grateful for that impressive run. In the end, some argue the deal for Sabathia was for naught. We didn’t even win a playoff series - much less a World Series. And the cost was high - and not because we gave up one of the game’s top prospects - Matt LaPorta - who turned out to be a bust. No, one of the extra guys in the deal - Michael Brantley - turned out to be an All-Star. Brantley has gone on to be a five-time All-Star - and a career .298 hitter. No matter, CC Sabathia’s brief run in Milwaukee was a fantastic time in Brewer history. And it may have been Sabathia’s greatest stint in his remarkable career - which is saying a lot. Please share your memories of former Brewer pitcher CC Sabathia.
  3. One of my favorite things about baseball is its history. I love analyzing the game as it progressed through the ages and comparing how players from one generation would have fared while playing in a different generation. This led me to inquire about which Brewers players have had the best individual season at each position since the franchise's inception and to attempt to construct a 26-man roster of these seasons to see how such a team would look, at least on paper. Image courtesy of © Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports I like this exercise because you could do it with every team, and it sort of levels out the playing field. For example, when choosing a roster of greatest seasons by Yankees players, you can select only one season from Babe Ruth and only select one season from all Yankee right fielders. Suddenly, our Brewers can hang with anyone! One stipulation, of course, is that a player can only appear once on the roster. This means that only one of Robin Yount’s MVP seasons could be used, so 1982 was chosen (sorry, 1989 Robin). The same goes for Prince Fielder’s franchise-record 50-homer season in 2007, missing the cut, among other notable seasons. After digging through my memories and Baseball Reference, I came up with 26 individual seasons that reflect what are, in my opinion, the best individual season by a Brewer at each position. Here are the 14 position players that I selected: PLAYER/SEASON/POSITION AVG. OBP SLG OPS OPS+ HR RBI R SB WAR (DWAR) PAUL MOLITOR 1987 DH (RH) 0.353 0.438 0.566 1.003 161 16 75 114 45 6.0 (-0.4) CHRISTIAN YELICH 2019 RF (LH) 0.329 0.429 0.671 1.1 179 44 97 100 30 7.0 (-0.9) RYAN BRAUN 2011 LF (RH) 0.332 0.397 0.597 0.994 166 33 111 109 33 7.7 (-0.4) PRINCE FIELDER 2009 1B (LH) 0.299 0.412 0.602 1.014 166 46 141 103 2 6.3 (-1.0) ROBIN YOUNT 1982 SS (RH) 0.331 0.379 0.578 0.957 166 29 114 129 14 10.6 (1.9) TOMMY HARPER 1970 3B (RH) 0.296 0.377 0.522 0.899 152 31 82 104 38 7.4 (0.5) CARLOS GOMEZ 2013 CF (RH) 0.284 0.338 0.506 0.843 128 24 73 80 40 7.6 (3.6) JONATHON LUCROY 2014 C (RH) 0.301 0.373 0.465 0.837 131 13 69 73 4 6.4 (1.7) DON MONEY 1977 2B (RH) 0.279 0.348 0.47 0.819 122 25 83 86 8 5.1 (1.3) CECIL COOPER 1980 1B/DH (LH) 0.352 0.387 0.539 0.926 155 25 122 96 17 6.8 (0.0) BILL HALL 2006 2B/SS/3B (RH) 0.27 0.345 0.553 0.899 125 35 85 101 8 5.8 (2.2) BEN OGLIVIE 1980 OF (LH) 0.304 0.362 0.563 0.925 153 41 118 94 11 6.5 (0.9) LORENZO CAIN 2018 OF (RH) 0.308 0.395 0.417 0.813 119 10 38 90 30 6.9 (2.4) TED SIMMONS 1983 C (S) 0.308 0.351 0.448 0.799 126 13 108 76 4 4.0 (-0.1) T O T A L S 0.31 0.381 0.536 0.917 146 385 1316 1355 284 94.1 (11.7) This is, as expected, a pretty impressive roster. There are multiple MVP award winners, several Gold Glove winners, three separate 30-30 seasons (Christian Yelich, Ryan Braun, and Tommy Harper), and almost all the players were All-Stars for that season (and those that weren’t probably should have been). There were, of course, some tough decisions, not only between players but also for some individuals. Choosing between Yelich’s 2018 and 2019 seasons is, and probably always will be, open to debate as to which was more remarkable, but Yelich played primarily left field in 2018 and right field in 2019. Considering Braun had his fantastic 2011 MVP season as a left fielder, this made the decision easy for me, despite its meaning of leaving an MVP season off the team. Speaking of Braun, the same argument could be made for his 2012 versus his 2011 season. I could not bring myself to leave two MVP seasons of the roster (three, if you count Yount’s 1989 season), but anyone who feels differently and would select the 2012 version of Braun over 2011 won’t get much of an argument from me. Finishing up the outfield, when I saw Carlos Gomez had a defensive WAR of 3.6 in 2013, I researched the greatest defensive seasons by center fielders ever, and he was near the top (Kevin Kiermaier in 2015 is the best all-time at 4.6). Choosing Paul Molitor and his .353 batting average, along with the 39-game hit streak, was a pretty easy selection as DH. The always-underrated Don Money played mostly at 2B in 1977 and smacked 25 dingers while playing his usual excellent defense. In 2014, Jonathon Lucroy became the first catcher in AL/NL history to lead the league in doubles with 53, which also tied the franchise record. His 46 that season as a catcher is also the AL/NL record. Having a bench with 1980 Cecil Cooper (.352 AVG., .926 OPS), 2006 Bill Hall (35 HR, .899 OPS), 1980 Ben Oglivie (41 HR, .925 OPS), 2018 Lorenzo Cain (.308 AVG, 30 SBs, 2.4 DWAR), and 1983 Ted Simmons (.308, 108 RBI) provides plenty of quality depth as well. Throughout history, the Brewers have generally been better at producing position players than pitchers. However, that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some fantastic individual seasons by some great pitchers in the rotation and the bullpen. Here are the five starters and seven relievers I selected as the best seasons in Brewers history: PITCHER/SEASON/SP OR RP W L ERA ERA+ WHIP BB K (K/9) IP CG/SV WAR TEDDY HIGUERA 1986 SP (LH) 20 11 2.79 156 1.208 74 207 (7.5) 248.1 15 CG 9.4 BEN SHEETS 2004 SP (RH) 12 14 2.7 162 0.983 32 264 (10.0) 237 5 CG 7.2 MIKE CALDWELL 1978 SP (LH) 22 9 2.36 160 1.064 54 131 (4.0) 293.1 23 CG 8.2 CORBIN BURNES 2021 SP (RH) 11 5 2.43 176 0.94 34 234 (12.6) 167 0 CG 5.6 CC SABATHIA 2008 SP (LH) 11 2 1.65 255 1.003 25 128 (8.8) 130.2 7 CG 4.9 DAN PLESAC 1987 RP (LH) 5 6 2.61 176 1.084 23 89 (10.1) 79.1 23 SV 2.6 JOSH HADER 2021 RP (LH) 4 2 1.23 348 0.835 24 102 (15.6) 58.2 34 SV 3.4 KEN SANDERS 1970 RP (RH) 5 2 1.75 215 0.964 25 64 (6.2) 92.1 13 SV 4.6 DEVIN WILLIAMS 2020 RP (RH) 4 1 0.33 1375 0.63 9 53 (17.7) 27 0 SV 1.3 JEREMY JEFFRESS 2018 RP (RH) 8 1 1.29 317 0.991 27 89 (10.4) 76.2 15 SV 3.3 COREY KNEBEL 2017 RP (RH) 1 4 1.78 248 1.158 40 126 (14.9) 76 39 SV 3.7 ROLLIE FINGERS 1981 RP (RH) 6 3 1.04 333 0.872 13 61 (7.0) 78 28 SV 4.2 T O T A L S 109 60 1.83 229 1.059 380 1548 (8.9) 1564 50CG/152 SV 58.4 It’s easy to forget just how dominant Teddy Higuera was early in his Brewers career, but he was among the best in the AL for a few years. His 1986 season would typically have easily won a Cy Young award, except for Roger Clemens’ season for the ages. Luckily for Corbin Burnes, in 2021, he was able to claim the NL Cy Young award. Helped by pairing with Josh Hader, another 2021 season represented on the team, to pitch the second no-hitter in franchise history, Burnes was dominant all season, despite only throwing 167 innings. Ben Sheets played on many bad teams in the early 2000s, thus not garnering the national attention he deserved. His 2004 season, with its franchise-record 264 strikeouts, was one of the bright spots in the early years of Miller Park. Mike Caldwell was a very average pitcher for most of his career, but in 1978, he looked like one of the best pitchers on the planet. Somehow he was not an All-Star in a season that he went 22-9 with 23 complete games and 293.1 innings pitched. What’s a guy have to do? Perhaps it was cheating a little by putting CC Sabathia on the team when he was only a Brewer for half a season. However, that half-season was so dominant that it made him a Brewers legend. Brewer fans will discuss it for the next 50+ seasons, so I figured it had to make the list. The same could be said for Devin Williams’ 2020 Covid-shortened season, but he was almost unhittable for the entire 60-game season. Winning NL Rookie of the Year sealed the deal. Rollie Fingers won every possible award in the strike-shortened 1981 season, including AL MVP, from a relief pitcher. However, his 4.2 WAR wasn’t the best in franchise history from a reliever. That belongs to Ken Sanders in 1970, with his 4.6 WAR. 2017 Corey Knebel (39 saves, 1.78 ERA) and 2018 Jeremy Jeffress (8-1, 1.29 ERA) round out the bullpen with their All-Star seasons. Of course, some tough calls and terrific seasons by some great players had to be passed over. Some of these include: 1B George Scott’s 1973 season (6.7 WAR, .306 BA, 107 RBI, GG) 3B Jeff Cirillo’s 1998 season (5.9 WAR, .321 BA, .402 OBP, 2.0 DWAR) CF Gorman Thomas’s 1982 (5.0 WAR, tied for league-lead with 39 HR) or 1978 seasons (4.8 WAR, league-leading 45 HR, 123 RBI, .895 OPS) RF Sixto Lezcano (5.6 WAR, .987 OPS, 101 RBI, GG) in 1979 LF Greg Vaughn’s 1993 season (6.7 WAR, .850 OPS, 30 HR) OF/DH Larry Hisle (5.3 WAR, 34 HR, 115 RBI, .906 OPS) in 1978 RHP Jim Colburn’s 1973 season (4.7 WAR, 20-12, 3.18 ERA, 314.1 IP) RHP Chris Bosio (5.4 WAR, 15-10, 2.95 ERA) in 1989 RHP Derrick Turnbow in 2005 (2.9 WAR, 7-1, 1.74 ERA, 39 SV, 1.084 WHIP). Other notable seasons not making the cut were 1982 AL Cy Young winner RHP Pete Vuckovich (2.8 WAR, 18-6, 3.34 ERA), 1992 AL ROY SS Pat Listach (4.5 WAR, .290 BA, 54 SB), and 2003 NL ROY runner-up CF Scott Podsednik (3.6 WAR, .314 BA, 43 SB). The breakdown of players by decade is as follows: 1970s = Four (Two position players, two pitchers) 1980s = Eight (Five position players, three pitchers) 1990s = Zero 2000s = Four (Two position players, two pitchers) 2010s = Seven (Five position players, two pitchers) 2020s = Three (Three pitchers) Overall, I think this roster would be very balanced, and it represents the history of the Brewers very well (except for the black hole that was the 1990s). Let me know what other seasons by individual players you would put on your team of all-time Brewer seasons. View full article
  4. I like this exercise because you could do it with every team, and it sort of levels out the playing field. For example, when choosing a roster of greatest seasons by Yankees players, you can select only one season from Babe Ruth and only select one season from all Yankee right fielders. Suddenly, our Brewers can hang with anyone! One stipulation, of course, is that a player can only appear once on the roster. This means that only one of Robin Yount’s MVP seasons could be used, so 1982 was chosen (sorry, 1989 Robin). The same goes for Prince Fielder’s franchise-record 50-homer season in 2007, missing the cut, among other notable seasons. After digging through my memories and Baseball Reference, I came up with 26 individual seasons that reflect what are, in my opinion, the best individual season by a Brewer at each position. Here are the 14 position players that I selected: PLAYER/SEASON/POSITION AVG. OBP SLG OPS OPS+ HR RBI R SB WAR (DWAR) PAUL MOLITOR 1987 DH (RH) 0.353 0.438 0.566 1.003 161 16 75 114 45 6.0 (-0.4) CHRISTIAN YELICH 2019 RF (LH) 0.329 0.429 0.671 1.1 179 44 97 100 30 7.0 (-0.9) RYAN BRAUN 2011 LF (RH) 0.332 0.397 0.597 0.994 166 33 111 109 33 7.7 (-0.4) PRINCE FIELDER 2009 1B (LH) 0.299 0.412 0.602 1.014 166 46 141 103 2 6.3 (-1.0) ROBIN YOUNT 1982 SS (RH) 0.331 0.379 0.578 0.957 166 29 114 129 14 10.6 (1.9) TOMMY HARPER 1970 3B (RH) 0.296 0.377 0.522 0.899 152 31 82 104 38 7.4 (0.5) CARLOS GOMEZ 2013 CF (RH) 0.284 0.338 0.506 0.843 128 24 73 80 40 7.6 (3.6) JONATHON LUCROY 2014 C (RH) 0.301 0.373 0.465 0.837 131 13 69 73 4 6.4 (1.7) DON MONEY 1977 2B (RH) 0.279 0.348 0.47 0.819 122 25 83 86 8 5.1 (1.3) CECIL COOPER 1980 1B/DH (LH) 0.352 0.387 0.539 0.926 155 25 122 96 17 6.8 (0.0) BILL HALL 2006 2B/SS/3B (RH) 0.27 0.345 0.553 0.899 125 35 85 101 8 5.8 (2.2) BEN OGLIVIE 1980 OF (LH) 0.304 0.362 0.563 0.925 153 41 118 94 11 6.5 (0.9) LORENZO CAIN 2018 OF (RH) 0.308 0.395 0.417 0.813 119 10 38 90 30 6.9 (2.4) TED SIMMONS 1983 C (S) 0.308 0.351 0.448 0.799 126 13 108 76 4 4.0 (-0.1) T O T A L S 0.31 0.381 0.536 0.917 146 385 1316 1355 284 94.1 (11.7) This is, as expected, a pretty impressive roster. There are multiple MVP award winners, several Gold Glove winners, three separate 30-30 seasons (Christian Yelich, Ryan Braun, and Tommy Harper), and almost all the players were All-Stars for that season (and those that weren’t probably should have been). There were, of course, some tough decisions, not only between players but also for some individuals. Choosing between Yelich’s 2018 and 2019 seasons is, and probably always will be, open to debate as to which was more remarkable, but Yelich played primarily left field in 2018 and right field in 2019. Considering Braun had his fantastic 2011 MVP season as a left fielder, this made the decision easy for me, despite its meaning of leaving an MVP season off the team. Speaking of Braun, the same argument could be made for his 2012 versus his 2011 season. I could not bring myself to leave two MVP seasons of the roster (three, if you count Yount’s 1989 season), but anyone who feels differently and would select the 2012 version of Braun over 2011 won’t get much of an argument from me. Finishing up the outfield, when I saw Carlos Gomez had a defensive WAR of 3.6 in 2013, I researched the greatest defensive seasons by center fielders ever, and he was near the top (Kevin Kiermaier in 2015 is the best all-time at 4.6). Choosing Paul Molitor and his .353 batting average, along with the 39-game hit streak, was a pretty easy selection as DH. The always-underrated Don Money played mostly at 2B in 1977 and smacked 25 dingers while playing his usual excellent defense. In 2014, Jonathon Lucroy became the first catcher in AL/NL history to lead the league in doubles with 53, which also tied the franchise record. His 46 that season as a catcher is also the AL/NL record. Having a bench with 1980 Cecil Cooper (.352 AVG., .926 OPS), 2006 Bill Hall (35 HR, .899 OPS), 1980 Ben Oglivie (41 HR, .925 OPS), 2018 Lorenzo Cain (.308 AVG, 30 SBs, 2.4 DWAR), and 1983 Ted Simmons (.308, 108 RBI) provides plenty of quality depth as well. Throughout history, the Brewers have generally been better at producing position players than pitchers. However, that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some fantastic individual seasons by some great pitchers in the rotation and the bullpen. Here are the five starters and seven relievers I selected as the best seasons in Brewers history: PITCHER/SEASON/SP OR RP W L ERA ERA+ WHIP BB K (K/9) IP CG/SV WAR TEDDY HIGUERA 1986 SP (LH) 20 11 2.79 156 1.208 74 207 (7.5) 248.1 15 CG 9.4 BEN SHEETS 2004 SP (RH) 12 14 2.7 162 0.983 32 264 (10.0) 237 5 CG 7.2 MIKE CALDWELL 1978 SP (LH) 22 9 2.36 160 1.064 54 131 (4.0) 293.1 23 CG 8.2 CORBIN BURNES 2021 SP (RH) 11 5 2.43 176 0.94 34 234 (12.6) 167 0 CG 5.6 CC SABATHIA 2008 SP (LH) 11 2 1.65 255 1.003 25 128 (8.8) 130.2 7 CG 4.9 DAN PLESAC 1987 RP (LH) 5 6 2.61 176 1.084 23 89 (10.1) 79.1 23 SV 2.6 JOSH HADER 2021 RP (LH) 4 2 1.23 348 0.835 24 102 (15.6) 58.2 34 SV 3.4 KEN SANDERS 1970 RP (RH) 5 2 1.75 215 0.964 25 64 (6.2) 92.1 13 SV 4.6 DEVIN WILLIAMS 2020 RP (RH) 4 1 0.33 1375 0.63 9 53 (17.7) 27 0 SV 1.3 JEREMY JEFFRESS 2018 RP (RH) 8 1 1.29 317 0.991 27 89 (10.4) 76.2 15 SV 3.3 COREY KNEBEL 2017 RP (RH) 1 4 1.78 248 1.158 40 126 (14.9) 76 39 SV 3.7 ROLLIE FINGERS 1981 RP (RH) 6 3 1.04 333 0.872 13 61 (7.0) 78 28 SV 4.2 T O T A L S 109 60 1.83 229 1.059 380 1548 (8.9) 1564 50CG/152 SV 58.4 It’s easy to forget just how dominant Teddy Higuera was early in his Brewers career, but he was among the best in the AL for a few years. His 1986 season would typically have easily won a Cy Young award, except for Roger Clemens’ season for the ages. Luckily for Corbin Burnes, in 2021, he was able to claim the NL Cy Young award. Helped by pairing with Josh Hader, another 2021 season represented on the team, to pitch the second no-hitter in franchise history, Burnes was dominant all season, despite only throwing 167 innings. Ben Sheets played on many bad teams in the early 2000s, thus not garnering the national attention he deserved. His 2004 season, with its franchise-record 264 strikeouts, was one of the bright spots in the early years of Miller Park. Mike Caldwell was a very average pitcher for most of his career, but in 1978, he looked like one of the best pitchers on the planet. Somehow he was not an All-Star in a season that he went 22-9 with 23 complete games and 293.1 innings pitched. What’s a guy have to do? Perhaps it was cheating a little by putting CC Sabathia on the team when he was only a Brewer for half a season. However, that half-season was so dominant that it made him a Brewers legend. Brewer fans will discuss it for the next 50+ seasons, so I figured it had to make the list. The same could be said for Devin Williams’ 2020 Covid-shortened season, but he was almost unhittable for the entire 60-game season. Winning NL Rookie of the Year sealed the deal. Rollie Fingers won every possible award in the strike-shortened 1981 season, including AL MVP, from a relief pitcher. However, his 4.2 WAR wasn’t the best in franchise history from a reliever. That belongs to Ken Sanders in 1970, with his 4.6 WAR. 2017 Corey Knebel (39 saves, 1.78 ERA) and 2018 Jeremy Jeffress (8-1, 1.29 ERA) round out the bullpen with their All-Star seasons. Of course, some tough calls and terrific seasons by some great players had to be passed over. Some of these include: 1B George Scott’s 1973 season (6.7 WAR, .306 BA, 107 RBI, GG) 3B Jeff Cirillo’s 1998 season (5.9 WAR, .321 BA, .402 OBP, 2.0 DWAR) CF Gorman Thomas’s 1982 (5.0 WAR, tied for league-lead with 39 HR) or 1978 seasons (4.8 WAR, league-leading 45 HR, 123 RBI, .895 OPS) RF Sixto Lezcano (5.6 WAR, .987 OPS, 101 RBI, GG) in 1979 LF Greg Vaughn’s 1993 season (6.7 WAR, .850 OPS, 30 HR) OF/DH Larry Hisle (5.3 WAR, 34 HR, 115 RBI, .906 OPS) in 1978 RHP Jim Colburn’s 1973 season (4.7 WAR, 20-12, 3.18 ERA, 314.1 IP) RHP Chris Bosio (5.4 WAR, 15-10, 2.95 ERA) in 1989 RHP Derrick Turnbow in 2005 (2.9 WAR, 7-1, 1.74 ERA, 39 SV, 1.084 WHIP). Other notable seasons not making the cut were 1982 AL Cy Young winner RHP Pete Vuckovich (2.8 WAR, 18-6, 3.34 ERA), 1992 AL ROY SS Pat Listach (4.5 WAR, .290 BA, 54 SB), and 2003 NL ROY runner-up CF Scott Podsednik (3.6 WAR, .314 BA, 43 SB). The breakdown of players by decade is as follows: 1970s = Four (Two position players, two pitchers) 1980s = Eight (Five position players, three pitchers) 1990s = Zero 2000s = Four (Two position players, two pitchers) 2010s = Seven (Five position players, two pitchers) 2020s = Three (Three pitchers) Overall, I think this roster would be very balanced, and it represents the history of the Brewers very well (except for the black hole that was the 1990s). Let me know what other seasons by individual players you would put on your team of all-time Brewer seasons.
  5. Top 10! This time we’ve got quite a few major leaguers, though not too many stars. In fact, we have to go to the Seattle Pilots to get to the best unsigned player, but there are still quite a few good players for those signed. After a tight choice in the previous five rounds, we make it to the top 10 where once again, we see a clear choice, but one who never made it to the majors with Milwaukee. Meanwhile, we have to go to the 60s before we find a player drafted by the Brewers organization The 17th of July is the beginning of this year’s edition of the MLB amateur draft. I’ve already checked out picks by the Brewers after round 31, those made between rounds 21-30, rounds 16-20, and 11-15. Be sure to check those out before getting started here, and come back tomorrow for round 2 through five! Best Player Who Signed After a photo-finish the last time out, we return to an obvious choice for those signed. Michael Brantley never appeared with the Brewers in the Majors, but is above and beyond the best drafted and signed in these rounds. The outfielder was drafted by Milwaukee back in 2005 in the 7th round with the 205th overall pick. He reached AA in the Milwaukee Brewers organization before the infamous trade with the Cleveland Indians which brought C.C. Sabathia to Milwaukee in 2008. Brantley was notably the player to be named later in this transaction, joining Rob Bryson, Matt LaPorta , and Zach Jackson in the trade. Brantley made his MLB debut on September 1st the following year, in 2009, in Detroit against the Tigers where he started in left field and went 2-4 at the plate, scoring a run in the loss. He went on to reach base safely in his first eight games after his call up when the rosters expanded, and performed well enough to be named the opening day starter in left field for the 2010 season. Brantley struggled a bit that year, but thereafter became a force at the plate, known for a great, patient approach with an easy swing, excelling at contact, earning him the nickname Dr. Smooth by Dennis Manoloff, a Cleveland Indians sports writer. 2014 was the best year of Brantley’s career, being named to his first career All-Star game and ending the season with a 0.327 average and 20 home runs, good for third place in the MVP voting. He was once again an All-Star in 2017 and 2018 while also making the postseason for the first time since his first year in 2013 where the Indians lost the wildcard game. In 2017 and 2018 his squad fell in the ALDS each time. In part due to lack of postseason success, Brantley left Cleveland. Across 10 seasons with the Indians, he had a batting average of 0.295, hitting 87 home runs and batting in 528 runners. Brantley signed with the Houston Astros, and continued his great play, being named an All-Star in 2019 for the third year in a row and once again in 2021. His choice to leave was fruitful, despite coming at a hot time due to the sign stealing scandal He has not be a World Series winner thus far, losing in the final series in both 2019 and 2021. Brantley will come to the end of his second two-year contract with the Astros following the completion of this season, for a total of 4 in Houston and 14 across his entire MLB career. He holds a career batting average of 0.298, and has hit 127 home runs with 346 doubles and 713 RBIs for a total WAR of 34.1. Best Unsigned Player There is not much to offer in terms of unsigned players from these rounds, but there is one notable player drafted by the Brewer organization by the name of Doug Bird , a pitcher who spent his first six MLB seasons with the Kansas City Royals starting in 1973 before spending the next five seasons with four different teams: first with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1979, then New York Yankees in 1980. He split time the following year in 1981 between New York and the Chicago Cubs. He remained in Chicago with the Cubs in 1982 before spending his final, 1983 season in Boston with the Red Sox. Despite playing as a pitcher in his time in the MLB, he was originally drafted by the Brewer organization when they were the Seattle Pilots back in the 1969 June Amateur Draft in the eighth round with the 189th overall pick as a shortstop. He instead signed with the Kansas City Royals after they selected him in the third round in the secondary phase of the 1969 MLB June Draft. Over his 11-year career, he accumulated 8.9 WAR in his 432 games, 100 of which were starts. He owns a record of 73 wins and 60 loses with a respectable 3.99 ERA. Honorable Mentions Behind the obvious best player drafted in this range, there is another plateau of players a little further back by the name of Mark Loretta and Ronnie Belliard. Their similarities and career paths are striking. Both were drafted in back-to-back years with the exact same pick, the 207th overall; first Loretta in 1993 in the 7th round, then Belliard in 1994 in the 8th round. Interestingly enough, each of them also made their debut while they were 23 years of age: Loretta in 1995 and Belliard in 1998. The right-handed throwing and batting players shared an infield in Milwaukee for many seasons. Loretta primarily played second base before the second baseman, Belliard, made his way to the majors, but later spent much of his time at shortstop and less often third while together in Milwaukee. The double play duo left Milwaukee in 2002, with Loretta being traded out midseason, and Belliard leaving in free agency in the offseason following the completion of the season. Loretta played eight of his 15 seasons with the Crew, later spending time with the San Diego Padres, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Boston Red Sox, and hit 0.295 and earned 19.3 WAR. Belliard spent five of his 13 seasons with Milwaukee, later spending time with the Washington Nationals, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies, and Saint Louis Cardinals. He had a batting average of 0.273 and earned 20.7 WAR. There are a couple other players drafted in these rounds who had made some contributions in the bigs with the Brewers. Bill Hall was drafted in the sixth round back in 1998 with the 176th pick and played eight years in Milwaukee. He led the team in home runs in 2006, hitting 35 that year. He played 11 years total, mostly as a shortstop or third basemen, and in the outfield, holding an average of 0.248 while hitting 125 home runs and earning 9.6 WAR. Another, more recent example, is Khris "Khrush" Davis , who was drafted in 2009 in the seventh round with the 226th overall pick. The corner outfielder and designated hitter made his debut with Milwaukee in 2013, only playing with the Crew until 2015. He played with the Oakland Athletics, where he led all major leaguers in home runs with 48 in the 2018 season, along with briefly appearing with the Texas Rangers. The nine-year veteran last appeared in MLB in 2021 and is currently a free agent. Davis hit 221 home runs with a batting average of 0.242 while earning 10.8 WAR. Finally, like last time out, we have a career contributor in these rounds, as Bill "Rock" Schroeder was drafted in the eighth round of the 1979 draft. The catcher hit 0.240 and earned 2.7 WAR in his eight year career, with the first six spent with the Brewers, where he was the catcher in Juan Nieves’ April 15th, 1987 no-hitter. He has been the Brewers’ color commentator on TV since 1995. So what do you think of my list here? Should I have included anyone else, such as right handed pitcher Lary Sorenson ? Or will some more recent picks like Garret Cooper or Drew Rasmussen end up on this list with some continued success? Is my omission of Mike Matheny just, or should his managerial career earn him a spot? Let me know and keep your eye out for the next one! View full article
  6. After a tight choice in the previous five rounds, we make it to the top 10 where once again, we see a clear choice, but one who never made it to the majors with Milwaukee. Meanwhile, we have to go to the 60s before we find a player drafted by the Brewers organization The 17th of July is the beginning of this year’s edition of the MLB amateur draft. I’ve already checked out picks by the Brewers after round 31, those made between rounds 21-30, rounds 16-20, and 11-15. Be sure to check those out before getting started here, and come back tomorrow for round 2 through five! Best Player Who Signed After a photo-finish the last time out, we return to an obvious choice for those signed. Michael Brantley never appeared with the Brewers in the Majors, but is above and beyond the best drafted and signed in these rounds. The outfielder was drafted by Milwaukee back in 2005 in the 7th round with the 205th overall pick. He reached AA in the Milwaukee Brewers organization before the infamous trade with the Cleveland Indians which brought C.C. Sabathia to Milwaukee in 2008. Brantley was notably the player to be named later in this transaction, joining Rob Bryson, Matt LaPorta , and Zach Jackson in the trade. Brantley made his MLB debut on September 1st the following year, in 2009, in Detroit against the Tigers where he started in left field and went 2-4 at the plate, scoring a run in the loss. He went on to reach base safely in his first eight games after his call up when the rosters expanded, and performed well enough to be named the opening day starter in left field for the 2010 season. Brantley struggled a bit that year, but thereafter became a force at the plate, known for a great, patient approach with an easy swing, excelling at contact, earning him the nickname Dr. Smooth by Dennis Manoloff, a Cleveland Indians sports writer. 2014 was the best year of Brantley’s career, being named to his first career All-Star game and ending the season with a 0.327 average and 20 home runs, good for third place in the MVP voting. He was once again an All-Star in 2017 and 2018 while also making the postseason for the first time since his first year in 2013 where the Indians lost the wildcard game. In 2017 and 2018 his squad fell in the ALDS each time. In part due to lack of postseason success, Brantley left Cleveland. Across 10 seasons with the Indians, he had a batting average of 0.295, hitting 87 home runs and batting in 528 runners. Brantley signed with the Houston Astros, and continued his great play, being named an All-Star in 2019 for the third year in a row and once again in 2021. His choice to leave was fruitful, despite coming at a hot time due to the sign stealing scandal He has not be a World Series winner thus far, losing in the final series in both 2019 and 2021. Brantley will come to the end of his second two-year contract with the Astros following the completion of this season, for a total of 4 in Houston and 14 across his entire MLB career. He holds a career batting average of 0.298, and has hit 127 home runs with 346 doubles and 713 RBIs for a total WAR of 34.1. Best Unsigned Player There is not much to offer in terms of unsigned players from these rounds, but there is one notable player drafted by the Brewer organization by the name of Doug Bird , a pitcher who spent his first six MLB seasons with the Kansas City Royals starting in 1973 before spending the next five seasons with four different teams: first with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1979, then New York Yankees in 1980. He split time the following year in 1981 between New York and the Chicago Cubs. He remained in Chicago with the Cubs in 1982 before spending his final, 1983 season in Boston with the Red Sox. Despite playing as a pitcher in his time in the MLB, he was originally drafted by the Brewer organization when they were the Seattle Pilots back in the 1969 June Amateur Draft in the eighth round with the 189th overall pick as a shortstop. He instead signed with the Kansas City Royals after they selected him in the third round in the secondary phase of the 1969 MLB June Draft. Over his 11-year career, he accumulated 8.9 WAR in his 432 games, 100 of which were starts. He owns a record of 73 wins and 60 loses with a respectable 3.99 ERA. Honorable Mentions Behind the obvious best player drafted in this range, there is another plateau of players a little further back by the name of Mark Loretta and Ronnie Belliard. Their similarities and career paths are striking. Both were drafted in back-to-back years with the exact same pick, the 207th overall; first Loretta in 1993 in the 7th round, then Belliard in 1994 in the 8th round. Interestingly enough, each of them also made their debut while they were 23 years of age: Loretta in 1995 and Belliard in 1998. The right-handed throwing and batting players shared an infield in Milwaukee for many seasons. Loretta primarily played second base before the second baseman, Belliard, made his way to the majors, but later spent much of his time at shortstop and less often third while together in Milwaukee. The double play duo left Milwaukee in 2002, with Loretta being traded out midseason, and Belliard leaving in free agency in the offseason following the completion of the season. Loretta played eight of his 15 seasons with the Crew, later spending time with the San Diego Padres, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Boston Red Sox, and hit 0.295 and earned 19.3 WAR. Belliard spent five of his 13 seasons with Milwaukee, later spending time with the Washington Nationals, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies, and Saint Louis Cardinals. He had a batting average of 0.273 and earned 20.7 WAR. There are a couple other players drafted in these rounds who had made some contributions in the bigs with the Brewers. Bill Hall was drafted in the sixth round back in 1998 with the 176th pick and played eight years in Milwaukee. He led the team in home runs in 2006, hitting 35 that year. He played 11 years total, mostly as a shortstop or third basemen, and in the outfield, holding an average of 0.248 while hitting 125 home runs and earning 9.6 WAR. Another, more recent example, is Khris "Khrush" Davis , who was drafted in 2009 in the seventh round with the 226th overall pick. The corner outfielder and designated hitter made his debut with Milwaukee in 2013, only playing with the Crew until 2015. He played with the Oakland Athletics, where he led all major leaguers in home runs with 48 in the 2018 season, along with briefly appearing with the Texas Rangers. The nine-year veteran last appeared in MLB in 2021 and is currently a free agent. Davis hit 221 home runs with a batting average of 0.242 while earning 10.8 WAR. Finally, like last time out, we have a career contributor in these rounds, as Bill "Rock" Schroeder was drafted in the eighth round of the 1979 draft. The catcher hit 0.240 and earned 2.7 WAR in his eight year career, with the first six spent with the Brewers, where he was the catcher in Juan Nieves’ April 15th, 1987 no-hitter. He has been the Brewers’ color commentator on TV since 1995. So what do you think of my list here? Should I have included anyone else, such as right handed pitcher Lary Sorenson ? Or will some more recent picks like Garret Cooper or Drew Rasmussen end up on this list with some continued success? Is my omission of Mike Matheny just, or should his managerial career earn him a spot? Let me know and keep your eye out for the next one!
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