How will the new Brewers players’ debuts match up with other Brew Crew debuts?
When (or if) the 2020 Major League Baseball season begins, the Brewers will have several new players who have never suited up in a Brewers uniform who will likely play important roles for the club. Players like outfielder Avisail Garcia, catcher Omar Narvaez, infielders Justin Smoak and Luis Urias, and pitchers Brett Anderson, Eric Lauer and Josh Lindblom will be making their debut with the Brewers in 2020 (hopefully).
The question: When they do make their debuts, will they start with a bang or a whimper? When compared to other Brewers, will any of these new players have a Brew Crew debut like Carlos Gomez? After coming to the Brewers in a trade with the Twins, Gomez made his Brewers debut on April 5, 2010 with four hits in five at-bats, a solo HR and a stolen base.
Or will any of the pitchers have a debut like Yovani Gallardo? Making his MLB and Brewers debut on June 18, 2007, Gallardo was the starting pitcher and winner in the Brewers 5-4 win over the San Francisco Giants. Gallardo went 6.1 innings and allowed only four hits and struck out four in the victory.
Let’s take a look at some of the Brewers debuts for some of the club’s top players over the years. Baseball-Reference.com on the Brewers’ team page lists the team’s Top 24 players in franchise history based on each players’ WAR rating (WAR stands for Wins Above Replacement). The stat gives a number to each players’ overall contribution to the team. Robin Yount tops the Brewers franchise with a 77.3 WAR, followed by Paul Molitor (60.0) and Ryan Braun is third (46.8).
Here is a snapshot of the top 24 Brewers player’s debut with the team.
Robin Yount, April 5, 1974: 0-for-1, walk
Paul Molitor, April 7, 1978: 1-for-5, one RBI
Ryan Braun, May 25, 2007: 1-for-4, two RBIs
Cecil Cooper, April 7, 1977: 1-for-4
Teddy Higuera, April 23, 1985: 5.1 IP, seven hits, 4 ER, five strikeouts (no decision-starting pitcher)
Don Money, April 6, 1973: 0-for-3
Jeff Cirillo, May 11, 1994: 0-for-0, came in as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning, no at-bat
Ben Sheets, April 5, 2001: 6.0 IP, six hits, 5 ER, five strikeouts (starting pitcher, losing pitcher)
George Scott, April 15, 1972: 0-for-4, one RBI
Jim Gantner, September 3, 1976: 2-for-4, one run scored, one walk
Geoff Jenkins, April 24, 1998: 2-for-4, solo HR, two runs scored
Ben Oglivie, April 8, 1978: 2-for-5, two runs scored, one walk
Carlos Gomez, April 5, 2010: 4-for-5, double, solo HR, two runs scored, stolen base
Sixto Lezcano, September 10, 1974: 3-for-5, one RBI
Chris Bosio, August 3, 1986: 3.0 IP, three hits, one earned run, one strikeout (came in as a reliever, no decision)
Gorman Thomas, April 6, 1973: 1-for-3, triple
Yovani Gallardo, June 18, 2007: 6.1 IP, four hits, 3 ER, 4 strikeouts (Starting pitcher, got the win)
Bill Wegman, September 14, 1985: 7.0 IP, five hits, two earned runs, four strikeouts (starting pitcher, no decision)
Mike Caldwell, June 19, 1977: 2 IP, no hits, one walk, one strikeout (came in as a reliever, no decision)
Jonathan Lucroy, May 21, 2010: 1-for-2
Prince Fielder, June 13, 2005: 0-for-4
Jeromy Burnitz, September 3, 1996: 0-for-4
Moose Haas, September 8, 1976: 3 IP, three hits, one earned run, two strikeouts (came in as a reliever, no decision)
Corey Hart, May 25, 2004: 0-for-1, strikeout
In addition to the above 24 players, the Brewers have five more players who played with the team who are members of baseball’s Hall of Fame (in addition to Yount and Molitor): Rollie Fingers, Hank Aaron, Ted Simmons, Trevor Hoffman and Don Sutton. Their Brewers debuts went as follows:
Rollie Fingers, April 11, 1981: 1.2 IP, two hits, no earned runs, one strikeout, one walk (came in as a reliever, got the save)
Hank Aaron, April 8, 1975: 0-for-3, walk
Ted Simmons, April 11, 1981: 0-for-4, one run scored, one strikeout
Trevor Hoffman, April 27, 2009: one inning pitched, no hits, no earned runs (came in as a reliever, no decision)
Don Sutton, 9 IP, complete game, eight hits allowed, four earned runs, two walks, three strikeouts (starting pitcher, got the loss)
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Ryan Braun was the Brewers #1 player in the 2010s… who do you have at #2?
If we go based on the numbers, there should not be much discussion about who was the Brewers top player last decade, 2010-19. The obvious answer is Ryan Braun.
Throughout the 2010s, Braun led the Brewers in almost every batting statistic. But after Braun, who would you pick as the second best player for the Brewers last decade. In my mind, and based on strictly the numbers, there are probably three candidates for the Number Two spot.
Some of you might pick Christian Yelich as the top player for the Brewers in the last 10 years. There’s no doubt that what he has accomplished with the Brew Crew over the last two seasons in Milwaukee is remarkable. But we’re taking about the total of 10 years, 2010-19. While Yelich has an MVP and a runner-up honor for that same award in two seasons, he does not have the numbers totals to make a dent in the Brewers players with the highest offensive stats over the past 10 years.
Let’s start with offensive totals. Here’s a look at the two players who topped the Brewers in several offensive categories from 2010-19.
Most at-bats: Braun, 4796… Jonathan Lucroy, 2838
Most runs: Braun, 770… Carlos Gomez, 364
Most hits: Braun, 1410… Lucroy, 806
Most doubles: Braun, 297… Lucroy, 157
Most triples: Braun, 29… Gomez, 25
Most home runs: Braun, 241… Rickie Weeks, 88 (how many of you thought Weeks had the second most homers for the Brewers from 2010-19?)
Most runs batted in: Braun, 811… Lucroy, 387
Most stolen bases: Braun, 166… Gomez, 152
Highest batting average (min. 300 games played): Braun, .294… Nori Aoki, .287
Highest on-base percentage (min. 300 games played): Prince Fielder, .408… Braun, .359
Highest slugging percentage (min. 300 games played): Braun, .519… Fielder, .518
I would put either Lucroy or Gomez as candidates for the second best player for the Brewers last decade behind Braun of the everyday players.
Now let’s look at the pitching stats for 2010-19.
Most games pitched: Jeremy Jeffress, 301… Francisco Rodriguez, 263
Most complete games: Kyle Lohse, 4… Yovani Gallardo, 3
Most wins: Gallardo, 67… Wily Peralta, 47
Most saves: John Axford, 105… Rodriguez, 95
Most innings pitched: Gallardo, 969.1… W. Peralta, 704.2
Most strikeouts: Gallardo, 901… Jimmy Nelson, 578
ERA (minimum 200 innings pitched: Josh Hader, 2.42… Jeffress, 2.66
My third candidate for the #2 spot would be Gallardo. Much like Yelich, you could make a case for a pitcher like Josh Hader, but his numbers are limited to only three seasons in Milwaukee last decade.
So who would you choose as the second-best player for the Brewers last decade?
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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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23 stats you may not know about… Ted Simmons
When he is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame later this year, Ted Simmons will become the seventh player to wear a Brewers jersey to become a Hall of Famer. The other Hall of Fame players with ties to the Brewers: Hank Aaron, Rollie Fingers, Trevor Hoffman, Paul Molitor, Don Sutton and Robin Yount.
Simmons was a member of the Milwaukee Brewers from 1981-85. He played in 665 games for the Brew Crew, collecting 666 hits, 66 HR, 394 RBI and batting .262.
Since he wore number 23 throughout his playing days, here are 23 stats you may not know about Simmons and his Hall of Fame career.
- Simmons ended his career with 2,472 hits and 248 home runs. He is one of 65 players in MLB history to have 2,400 hits and 240 HRs in a career. Of those 65 players, Simmons becomes the 39th to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
- He played 21 seasons in the majors, 13 with St. Louis, five with the Brewers and three with Atlanta.
- He was born in Highland Park, Michigan. Of all players born in Michigan who played in the majors, Simmons ranks second in career hits with 2,472 (behind fellow Hall of Famer Charlie Gehringer) and third in home runs with 248, behind Kirk Gibson and John Mayberry who each hit 255. He ranks first on the list of Michigan-born ballplayers in MLB career games played with 2,456.
- Simmons was an eight-time All-Star. He was 2-for-10 in those games with one RBI.
- Seven times in his career he finished in the Top 20 in league MVP voting. His highest finish was sixth in the voting for the 1975 National League MVP.
- Simmons had 2,472 career hits, but did not have a season where he hit 200. The most hits he had in a season were 193 in 1975 with the Cardinals.
- His career high for home runs was 26 in 1979 with the Cards. His second-best year was 23 he hit for the Brewers in 1982.
- The best year for RBIs was in 1983 when Simmons drove in 108 with the Brewers. Three times in his career he had 100 or more RBIs in a season.
- Simmons twice led the league in intentional walks… in 1976 and 1977 with the Cards.
- He never played in a post-season game during his career with the Cardinals. He appeared in 17 post-season games with the Brewers in 1981 and 1982.
- The only positions Simmons did not play in his MLB career were pitcher, second base, shortstop and centerfield.
- He made 233 pinch-hit appearances, but was never a pinch-runner in a game.
- Simmons had 2,472 hits in 2,456 career MLB games. Of all players who played in 2,400 or more career games in the majors, Simmons is one of only 65 players to have more hits than games played.
- Simmons played 1,218 home games and 1,238 away games in his career. He had more HRs (132-116) in road games and had a higher batting average (.291-.279) in road games.
- Simmons highest monthly career batting average was in July. He hit .298 in July during his 21-year career.
- When his team won, Simmons’ batting average was .338. When his team lost, his career average was .233.
- He batted .301 in extra innings.
- The most career homers he hit versus one team were 23 each against the Pirates and Cubs.
- Simmons batted .300 or better in seven seasons. He was one of 157 players to accomplish that in a career. Cap Anson tops the list with 24 seasons with a batting average of .300 or better. Ty Cobb is second with 21 seasons at .300 or better.
- Most of Simmons plate appearances took place when he was batting clean-up. Of his 9,685 career plate appearances, Simmons had 5,296 of them from the fourth spot in the batting order.
- Simmons batted only .216 in his first season with the Brewers (1981). He batted .214 in five games in 1969 and .196 in his final season (1988 with the Braves), the lowest batting average seasons in his career.
- A switch-hitter, he hit a HR from both sides of the plate in a game three times.
- Simmons was first eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994. He received less than 5% of the votes that year and was taken off the ballot. He was eventually voted in this year by the Veterans Committee.
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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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