If you are a Brewers fan, you already know that Jonathan Villar led the majors last season with 62 stolen bases and that Chris Carter tied for the National League home run title with 41 homers. But what you may not know is that these (now-former) Brewers teammates in 2016 became the fifth set of MLB teammates to have a 60-40 season… one player with 60 or more steals and a teammate with 40 or more HRs.
Here’s a look at the five sets of teammates who had a 60-40 season in the same year:
Milwaukee Brewers, 2016: Chris Carter, 41 HRs, Jonathan Villar, 62 stolen bases.
New York Mets, 2006: Carlos Beltran, 41 HRs, Jose Reyes, 64 stolen bases.
New York Mets, 1999: Mike Piazza, 40 HRs, Roger Cedeno, 66 stolen bases.
Cleveland Indians, 1996: Albert Belle, 48 HRs, Kenny Lofton, 75 stolen bases.
New York Yankees, 1931: Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, 46 HRs each, Ben Chapman, 61 stolen bases.
The combined stats of HRs and stolen bases has always been a way to evaluate those players who have that rare, much-desired combination of speed and power. The most common stat has been the “30-30” players, those who get 30 or more HRs and 30 or more steals in the same season. The Brewers franchise has had two 30-30 players in its history: Ryan Braun has done it twice (in 2011 and 2012), and Tommy Harper did it in 1970. In fact, Braun and Mike Trout are the last two players to have a 30-30 season, both accomplishing this feat in 2012. Braun is one of 13 MLB players in history to have two or more 30-30 seasons… father and son Barry and Bobby Bonds top this list, each with five 30-30 seasons in their careers.
In addition to Braun’s two 30-30 seasons and Harper’s lone 30-30 campaign, the Brewers team has had nine other seasons where teammates accomplished a 30-30 season… one player with 30 or more HRs and a teammate with 30 or more stolen bases. Here’s a look at those seasons:
2016: HRs-Chris Carter (41) and Ryan Braun (30)/Stolen Bases-Jonathan Villar (62) and Hernan Perez (34)
2012: HRs-Corey Hart (30) and Ryan Braun (41)/Stolen Bases-Nori Aoki (30), Carlos Gomez (37) and Ryan Braun (30)
2011: HRs-Prince Fielder (38) and Ryan Braun (33)/Stolen Bases-Ryan Braun (33)
2003: HRs-Richie Sexson (45)/Stolen Bases-Scott Podsednik (43)
1983: HRs-Cecil Cooper (30)/Stolen Bases-Paul Molitor (41)
1982: HRs-Ben Oglivie (34) and Gorman Thomas (39)/Stolen Bases-Paul Molitor (41)
1980: HRs-Ben Oglivie (41) and Gorman Thomas (38)/Stolen Bases-Paul Molitor (34)
1979: HRs-Gorman Thomas (45)/Stolen Bases-Paul Molitor (33)
1978:HRs-Gorman Thomas (32) and Larry Hisle (34)/Stolen Bases-Paul Molitor (30)
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Let’s start this blog with a quiz:
There have been 15 players who played one or more games in 10 or more different seasons with the Brewers. Can you name these 15 Brewers who have played 10 or more seasons with the Brew Crew? (Answer below.)
One thing free agency did for baseball was it made staying with one team for an entire career almost a thing of the past. While many players may play 10 or more years in the majors, and some may play more, it’s pretty rare to find more than a handful who stayed with one team for an entire career.
Last season there were 24 players on rosters who had played (or were playing) their 10th season (or more) with that club. Two teams, Boston and Cincinnati, toped this list each with three players with 10 or more seasons with the Reds or Red Sox. For the Reds, Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto and Homer Bailey each had 10 or more campaigns with the team, while David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz were 10-year players with the Red Sox.
Here’s a look at the 30 MLB franchises and how many 10-year players were with the team in 2016.
3: Boston (Buchholz, Ortiz, Pedroia), Cincinnati (Bailey, Phillips, Votto)
2: Minnesota (Mauer, Perkins), New York Mets (Reyes, Wright), Philadelphia (Howard, Ruiz), St. Louis (Molina, Wainwright)
1: Chicago White Sox (Danks), Detroit (Verlander), Kansas City (Gordon), L.A. Angels (Weaver), L.A. Dodgers (Ethier), Milwaukee (Braun), New York Yankees (Rodriguez), San Francisco (Cain), Seattle (Hernandez), Washington (Zimmerman)
0: Arizona, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland, Colorado, Houston, Miami, Oakland, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Tampa Bay, Texas, Toronto
If we look at the list of 24, we see that one-third of these players are no longer with the teams they played for last season. Retirement ended the careers of Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz, Ryan Howard is still a free agent, and five players have new teams: Brandon Phillips (Atlanta), Carlos Ruiz (Seattle), Clay Buchholz (Philadelphia), Jered Weaver (San Diego) and John Danks (Atlanta).
Now to answer the trivia question at the start of the blog…
Last season Ryan Braun became the 15th Brewers player to play in 10 or more seasons with the team. He joined the following players (numbers of seasons with the Brewers also noted):
20: Robin Yount
17: Jim Gantner
15: Paul Molitor
14: Charlie Moore
12: Jim Slaton
11: Rickie Weeks, Bill Wegman, Cecil Cooper, Gorman Thomas, Don Money
10: Ryan Braun, Geoff Jenkins, Bob McClure, Moose Haas, Jerry Augustine
It’s anyone’s guess whether or not another player will join this above list of Brewers. When you consider that after Braun the player on the current roster with the most seasons with the team is Wily Peralta with five, chances of anyone joining this in the near future is not likely.
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Milwaukee Brewers rookie pitcher Zach Davies had an 11-7 record and 3.95 ERA this season for the team. He became the 14th Brewers rookie hurler in team history to win 10 or more games in his first season, and he led the Brew Crew pitching staff in wins with his 11 victories in 2016. He became only the second pitcher in Brewers history to outright lead the Brewers pitching staff in wins since Teddy Higuera led the staff with 15 wins in his rookie season in 1985.
(Note: Three Brewers rookie pitchers tied for the team lead in wins in a season… Don August (1988), Ben Sheets (2001) and Steve Woodard in 1998).
Davies 11 wins ties him for fourth place on the team list for most wins by a rookie pitcher. Higuera tops the list with 15 wins in 1985.
Here are the 14 pitchers who won 10 or more games for the Brewers in their rookie season.
15: Teddy Higuera, 1985
13: Bill Parson, 1971… Don August, 1988
11: Juan Nieves, 1986… Chris Bosio, 1987… Cal Eldred, 1992… Ben Sheets, 2001… Wily Peralta, 2013… Zach Davies, 2016
10: Jim Slaton, 1971… Moose Haas, 1977… Dan Plesac, 1986… Steve Woodard, 1998… Manny Parra, 2008
Four of the above pitchers finished in the Top 5 for Rookie of the Year voting that season: Higuera and Parsons both finished second; August and Eldred finished fourth. We’ll see how much support Davies gets in this year’s N.L. ROY voting.
Of the 14 pitchers above, can you name the only one to go on to win over 100 career games with the Brewers? If you guessed, Slaton, you know your stuff! Slaton, who pitched 12 of his 16 seasons in the majors with the Brewers, went on to win 117 games with the Brew Crew in his career, the only pitcher from the list above to reach 100 wins with the team.
Here are the number of career wins with the Brewers the 14 rookie pitchers who won 10 or more as rookies ended up with during their Milwaukee career: Slaton (117), Higuera (94), Haas (91), Sheets (86), Bosio (67), Eldred (64), Peralta (42), August (34), Nieves (32), Parsons (29), Plesac (29), Parra (26), Woodard (25), Davies (11)*.
- (2016 was his rookie season)
As you probably noticed, Dan Plesac won 10 games with the Brewers in 1986. Used primarily as a reliever in his career (he did start 14 games in his MLB career), Plesac is one of only 19 pitchers to ever tally 10 or more wins and 10 or more saves in his rookie season in the majors. Plesac had 14 saves to go along with his 10 wins in his rookie season with the Brewers in 1986.
Plesac is one of six Brewers rookie pitchers who had 10 or more saves in their rookie season with the Brewers. Topping the list is Jim Henderson who had 28 saves in his rookie campaign in 2013 with the Brewers. Here are the six Brewers rookie pitchers with 10 or more saves.
28: Jim Henderson, 2013
25: Pete Ladd, 1983
24: John Axford, 2010
15: Doug Henry, 1991
14: Dan Plesac, 1986
12: Chuck Crim, 1987
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The Brewers entered this weekend with a three-game series against the American League’s Seattle Mariners in Seattle. That meant that the team would be utilizing the designated hitter in their line-up during these games. This series is also the last interleague play for the Brewers this season.
Ryan Braun was in the lineup on Friday as the team’s DH. He went one-for-five with a pair of RBIs on a ninth-inning single. It was Braun’s 12th career game as the Brewers DH.
Over the long history of the Brewers, the DH has been an important part of the lineup, especially going back to when the team was in the American League (through 1997). Hall of Famer Paul Molitor played many games as the Brewers DH; in fact, his 1,904 plate appearances as the DH for the Brewers tops the team in that category. The only other Brewers player with 1,000 or more plate appearances as a DH is Ted Simmons with 1,175.
Molitor was the team’s most successful DH when the Brewers were an A.L. team. He leads the team with 519 hits as a DH, most HR with 37 and most RBI with 186.
Here’s a look at the Brewers players who lead various hitting categories as the team’s DH.
Paul Molitor, 519
Ted Simmons, 282
Cecil Cooper, 232
Greg Vaughn, 176
Dave Nilsson, 168
Dave Parker, 168
Hank Aaron, 167
Batting Average (minimum of 100 at-bats to qualify)
Kevin Seitzer, .325
B.J. Surhoff, .304
The DH position when the Brewers went over to the National League has certainly not been as productive as their A.L. brethren. Consider this: Of the nine Brewers players who have 20 or more plate appearances as a DH for the team since 1998, only one has a batting average above .250 as the DH (Rickie Weeks, .276).
The recently-retired and former Brewer Prince Fielder has the most DH plate appearances for the team since ’98 with 73. He is followed by Aramis Ramirez with 67 and Braun with 54.
Here’s a look at the Brewers players who lead various hitting categories as the team’s DH since 1998, the team’s time in the National League.
Batting Average (minimum of 20 at-bats as DH)
I’ll admit I had two very different reactions to the recent trade of Jonathan Lucroy. First, from a business standpoint, I expected the trade and figured the Brewers would have to trade Lucroy to secure the optimal value of players in return for an all-star catcher of Lucroy’s caliber. From the business side and the team’s take, it made perfect sense.
From a personal, emotional perspective, I hated the trade. Lucroy was my favorite Brewers player. Like me when I played baseball, he was a catcher and wore #20, and he is a man of faith. I admired Lucroy, his game, and how he carried himself. He was a good guy to hitch your wagon to; I will miss the “LUC, LUC” calls bellowing at Miller Park when he stepped to the plate.
I tell you this as a precursor to the next statement; or better yet, this question: Is Lucroy the best catcher in Brewers history? I’m unashamedly willing to attach that title to Lucroy, but as I have a habit of doing, I’d like to throw out some numbers and stats to support my proclamation and allow you to form your own opinion.
Let’s look at where Lucroy stands with regards to some basic numbers with the Brewers:
- He is 19th on the club in career games played with 805.
- He is 20th on the team in career plate appearances.
- He is 20th on the all-time Brewers list with 806 career hits.
- Of the 43 players in Brewers history who played in 500 or more games, he is one of only 12 who had more hits (806) than games played (805).
- Of the 21 Brewers players with 3,000 or more plate appearances with the team, he ranks sixth on the list with a batting average of .284.
Those are all nice stats, but they certainly don’t make a strong enough case for Lucroy as the team’s best catcher in history. His numbers when compared to the others catchers who have worn the Brewers uniform, however, is where Lucroy’s case, in my mind, becomes more evident. When compared to the other Brewers catchers, consider that Lucroy (numbers are when he was catching):
- Ranks second in games played as a catcher with 725 (Charlie Moore, 850)
- Ranks first in runs scored with 330.
- Ranks first in hits with 758.
- Ranks first with 144 doubles.
- Ranks second with 16 triples (Charlie Moore, 30).
- Ranks first with 78 home runs.
- Ranks first with 363 RBI.
- Of the 12 Brewers players who had at least 800 career at-bats when playing the catcher position, Lucroy ranks first with a batting average of .286.
There’s one other group of stats that make a strong case for Lucroy. He played in two All-Star Games as a Brewer and performed very well. Thirty-two Brewers players have had an at-bat in All-Star Game history, and only 11 have gotten a hit. In fact, Brewers players are only 18-for-88 in All-Star Game at-bats, a lowly .205 batting average. Lucroy, however, is 3-for-3 in his two games. Take Lucroy’s 3-for-3 out of the equation and the Brewers bats are hitting .176 in ASG history.
Of the 181 players who have three or more career hits in the All-Star Game, Lucroy is one of only eight who have a 1.000 batting average. He is one of only 17 catchers in All-Star Game history to have three or more career hits in ASG, and he is tied with Ryan Braun for the most career hits in the ASG for a Brewers player with three.
Fans and the Bfrewers faithful can certainly make a case for some of the other catchers who have worn the Brewers uniform: Ted Simmons, Charlie Moore, Dave Nilsson, B.J. Surhoff, Darrell Porter,etc. Of course, I haven’t even talked about his defensive skills… with the Brew Crew he threw out about 27% of the runners trying to steal and was at 40% this season with the Brewers when he was traded.
So, where would you rank Lucroy on the list of greatest catchers for the Brewers?