Opening Day starters for the Brewers
Opening Day for baseball in 2020 is still a mystery. That shouldn’t, however, stop us from looking at some previous Opening Day lineups for the Brewers.
First, did you know that the last time the Brewers had the same player start at first base on Opening Day was all the way back in 2010 and 2011? Prince Fielder was the Opening Day first baseman in those two years for the Brewers; since then, the same player has not started at first in consecutive years.
(In case you were wondering, here are the Opening Day starters at first base for the Brewers since Fielder started at that position in 2010 and 2011: 2012-Mat Gamel, 2013-Alex Gonzalez, 2014-Lyle Overbay, 2015-Adam Lind, 2016-Chris Carter, 2017-Eric Thames, 2018-Ryan Braun, 2019-Jesus Aguilar.)
Here’s a breakdown for the last time a player started on Opening Day at the same position in consecutive seasons for the Brew Crew.
Catcher: Jonathan Lucroy, 2014-15
First Base: Prince Fielder, 2010-11
Second Base: Jonathan Villar, 2017-18
Shortstop: Orlando Arcia, 2018-19
Third Base: Travis Shaw, 2018-19
Left Field: Ryan Braun, 2016-17
Center Field: Lorenzo Cain, 2018-19
Right Field: Domingo Santana, 2017-18
Pitcher: Yovani Gallardo, 2013-14
Secondly, did you know that Jim Gantner has the most Opening Day starts at one position for the Brewers? Gantner was the Opening Day second baseman in 11 seasons. Second on the list is Robin Yount who had 10 Opening Day starts for the Brewers at shortstop. Yount tops the club with the most Opening Days starts at any position with 19 (he made 10 Opening Day starts at shortstop, eight in center field, and one in left field). In his 20-year career, the only year he did not make an Opening Day start for the Brewers was in 1978.
Here are the players with the most Opening Day starts at each position in Brewers history.
Catcher: Jonathan Lucroy and B.J. Surhoff, 5 each
First Base: Cecil Cooper, 9
Second Base: Jim Gantner, 11
Shortstop: Robin Yount, 10
Third Base: Don Money, 7
Left Field: Ryan Braun, 9
Center Field: Robin Yount, 8
Right Field; Sixto Lezcano and Jeromy Burnitz, 5 each
Designated Hitter: Paul Molitor, 4
Starting Pitcher: Ben Sheets, 6
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Brewers Trivia: How well do you know the team?
With professional sports on a sort of hiatus because of the Coronavirus, there’s not much stat analysis to write about. How about a little trivia?
Here’s three trivia questions for Brewers fans. Try to read the questions and guess the answers before skipping down to the answers.
- Three Brewers players played 1,000 or more games with the team but never made it on an all-star team while with the Brewers. Can you name the three?
- Name the Brewers managers who have been named Manager of the Year in either the American League or National League.
- From 2011 to 2019, there were nine different players who were the Opening Day starting first baseman for the Brewers. How many of the nine can you name?
Answer #1: Jim Gantner tops the list of most games played in a Brewers uniform without ever making the all-star team as a member of the Brew Crew. Gantner played 1,801 games with the Brewers but did not play in an All-Star Game. Charlie Moore (1,283 games with the Brewers) and B.J. Surhoff (1,102 games with the Brewers) are the other two players. Surhoff did play in the 1999 All-Star Game as a member of the Baltimore Orioles.
Answer #2: Trick question. The Brewers have never had one of their managers finish first in the voting for a Manager of the Year Award. There have had four Brewers managers who finished second in the voting for the award: Tom Trebelhorn (1987), Phil Garner (1992), Ron Roenicke (2011) and Craig Counsell (2018 and 2019).
Answer #3: Opening Day starting first basemen for the Brewers: 2011-Prince Fielder, 2012-Mat Gamel, 2013-Alex Gonzalez, 2014-Lyle Overbay, 2015-Adam Lind, 2016-Chris Carter, 2017-Eric Thames, 2018-Ryan Braun, 2019-Jesus Aguilar.
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Here’s a great trivia question for Brewers fans:
Can you name the five players who played their entire career with the Brewers (minimum of 500 games)? Hint: Two of them are currently on the Brewers roster. (Answer to follow)
It’s pretty rare to find a player who spends their entire MLB career with one team, especially if that career has a lot of mileage. Of the 22 players who played 2,800 or more games in the majors in their careers, only seven played all of their games with one team (Carl Yastrzemski, Stan Musial, Cal Ripken, Jr., Brooks Robinson, Robin Yount, Craig Biggio and Al Kaline).
As most avid Brewers fans know, Yount spent his entire career with the Brewers and holds the number one spot in this stat with 2,856 career games, all with the Brewers. One of Yount’s running mates during his career, Jim Gantner, holds the number two spot on this list with 1,801 career games, again, all with the Brewers.
Here goes… the 12 players who played (or have played) 200 or more career games in the majors, all with the Brewers.
1. Robin Yount, 2,856
2. Jim Gantner, 1,801
3. Ryan Braun, 1,219 (currently on Brewers roster)
4. Dave Nilsson, 837
5. Jonathan Lucroy, 710 (currently on Brewers roster)
6. Scooter Gennett, 320 (currently on Brewers roster)
7. Mark Brouhard, 304
8. Jerry Augustine, 279
8. Matin Maldonado, 279 (currently on Brewers roster)
10. Bill Wegman, 266
11. Ron Theobald, 251
12. Teddy Higuera, 213
How well did you do on the trivia question? Yount and Gantner were easy; Braun and Lucroy was pretty easy guesses, especially with the hint, but Nilsson… that one I would have missed.
A pair of Brewers who were on the roster last year would have been on the above list but are no longer in the organization. Khris Davis was traded to Oakland few weeks ago; he had 321 games with the Brewers and will most likely add a few MLB games to his career with the A’s. Logan Schafer has 292 games with the Brewers in his career, but is now in the Washington Nationals organization.
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Over the course of the Brewers 43-plus year history, the team has not really been known as a base-stealing team. There were, however, pockets of time in their history when stolen bases were a major part of their offensive arsenal. They led the league in steals in 1969 as the Seattle Pilots and then did not lead the league in stolen bases until 1987. It was that period from 1987-92 where the Brewers led the league five out of six seasons in stolen bases.
Since their move to the National League in 1998, stolen bases have not been a significant focus for the team. They did lead the N.L. in steals in 2004 led by outfielder Scott Podsednik’s 70 swipes. That year and a third-place spot in steals in 2003 are the only times the Brewers have finished in the top three in the N.L. in steals since 1998.
Here’s a look at what an all-time Brewers stolen bases team might look like… by position.
First Base: Cecil Cooper (77 stolen bases). Cooper had only 12 stolen bases in his first six seasons with the Red Sox. As a Brewer, “Coop” stole 48 bases in his first four seasons with the team. His career-high was 17 steals in 1980. Reserve: George Scott (40 stolen bases)
Second Base: Jim Gantner (137 stolen bases). Gantner will likely be supplanted by Weeks in the next couple of years in this category. Gantner averaged nearly 15 steals per season from 1985-90. His year-high was 20 in both 1988 and ’89. Reserve: Rickie Weeks (102 stolen bases)
Shortstop: Pat Listach (112 stolen bases). A.L. Rookie of the Year in 1992 stole 54 bases in his award-winning season. Reserve: Jose Valentin (78 stolen bases)
Third Base: Paul Molitor (412 stolen bases). The Brewers career leader in stolen bases. He finished his career with 504 steals. He has four of the top 10 best single-seasons for steals in team history. Reserve: Don Money (66 stolen bases)
Outfield: Robin Yount (271 stolen bases). Had 10 or more steals in 16 of his 20 seasons with the Brewers. The only Brewers player in history to have over 200 career home runs and over 200 career steals.
Tommy Harper (136 stolen bases). More than half of his steals as a Brewer came in 1969 when he led the league with 73 bases with the Seattle Pilots. His 73 steals is the Brewers single-season record.
Scott Podsednik (113 stolen bases). Spent only two seasons with the Brewers. Had 70 steals in 2004 that led the National League. He and Harper are the only two Brewers to have 70-plus steals in a season.
Outfield Reserves: Darryl Hamilton (109 stolen bases); Mike Felder (108 stolen bases); Ryan Braun (100 stolen bases).
Catcher: B.J. Surhoff (102 stolen bases). Had a career-high 21 steals in 1988 with the Brewers. Reserve: Charlie Moore (51 stolen bases)
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