Could Christian Yelich become the first league batting champion in Milwaukee Brewers history?
Yelich is batting .319, placing him second in the National League behind Atlanta Braves outfielder Nick Markakis, who in leading the N.L. with a .323 average.
Since 1969 when the Brewers became a MLB franchise (as the Seattle Pilots), the team has had 16 players finish in the top five of league batting average. The last Brewer player to finish in the top five was in 2012 when Ryan Braun batted .319 to finish third in the N.L. batting race.
Here’s a look at the Milwaukee Brewers who finished in the top five in league batting average since 1969.
2012: Ryan Braun, .319 (3rd)
2011: Ryan Braun, .332, (2nd)
1999: Jeff Cirillo, .326 (5th)
1992: Paul Molitor, .320 (4th)
1991: Willie Randolph, .327 (3rd) and Paul Molitor, .325 (5th)
1989: Robin Yount, .318 (4th)
1988: Paul Molitor, .312 (5th)
1987: Paul Molitor, .353 (2nd)
1982: Robin Yount, .331(2nd) and Cecil Cooper, .313 (5th)
1981: Cecil Cooper, .320 (4th)
1980: Cecil Cooper, .352 (2nd)
1978: Ben Oglivie, .303 (5th)
1973: George Scott, .306 (2nd) and Dave May, .303 (5th)
Lorenzo Cain is sitting tied for 10th place in the N.L. batting race with a .298 average. The last time the Brewers had a pair of players in the top 10 was in 1991 when Randolph finished third and Molitor was fifth. Two or more Brewers finished in the top 10 in eight seasons (1991, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1983, 1982, 1979 and 1973). Three Brewers finished in the Top 10 in 1982… in addition to Yount and Cooper finishing second and fifth respectively, Molitor finished 10th that season.
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Two of the Brewers newest additions, Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich, have gotten off to fast starts for the team. Cain has nine hits in his first four games while Yelich has seven.
At this pace, Cain will end the season with 365 hits and Yelich will collect 284. Highly unlikely, I might add.
If, however, Cain and Yelich can continue their fast starts over the course of the season, they could become the 2.0 version of Brewers legends Robin Yount and Paul Molitor. A formidable 1-2 punch at the top of the lineup would certainly go a long way to the Brewers having success in 2018.
There has been only one season in Brewers history where two (or more) teammates collected 200 or more hits in the same season. In 1982, Cecil Cooper (205), Paul Molitor (201) and Robin Yount (210) each passed the 200-hit milestone.
If we drop the hit total down to 180 hits in a season, there have also been seven other seasons where a pair of Brewers teammates both had 180 or more hits that campaign. The last time was in 1998 when Jeff Cirillo (194) and Fernando Vina (198) each had more than 180 hits in a season.
Following are the eight seasons when the Brewers had two or more teammates with 180 or more hits in the same season.
1973: George Scott (185) and Davey May (189)
1979: Cecil Cooper (182) and Paul Molitor (188)
1980: Ben Oglivie (180) and Cecil Cooper (219)
1982: Cooper (205), Molitor (201) and Yount (210)
1983: Ted Simmons (185) and Cecil Cooper (203)
1988: Molitor (190) and Yount (190)
1989: Molitor (194) and Yount (195)
1998: Cirillo (194) and Vina (198)
The Brewers are hoping Cain and Yelich (and maybe another player or two) might join this list.
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A lot has been noted this season about the Brewers scoring a lot of runs in the first inning (it happened again on Sunday when they tallied three runs in the first inning). Let’s take a look a few individual stats for Brewers players in the first inning.
A look at the Brewers players stats in the first inning shows that Robin Yount has the team record for most career first-inning hits (578), Ryan Braun holds the team mark for most career first-inning home runs (69) and RBIs (211) and Paul Molitor holds the team record for most first-inning stolen bases (119).
I was a little surprised, however, when I discovered that a current player (not Ryan Braun) holds the team-best batting average in the first inning. For all Milwaukee players who have at least 100 plate appearances in the first inning, right-fielder Domingo Santana has the best first-inning batting average at .368 (I guess Counsell needs to make sure that Santana is batting either 1-2 or 3 in the Brewers batting order).
Here are the six Brewers players who have a .320 or better first-inning career batting average with the club (again, minimum of 100 plate appearances in the first inning to qualify for the list).
Domingo Santana .368
Bill Spiers .358
Jeff Cirillo .333
Dave Nilsson .325
Sixton Lezcano .320
Scooter Gennett .320
With all due respect to the great Hank Aaron, the worst career first-inning batting average for the Brewers (minimum of 100 plate appearances in the first inning) is Aaron’s .184.
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)
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Fans of the Milwaukee Brewers have watched many of their favorite players on the All-Star Game stage since the team came to Milwaukee in 1970. Players like Cecil Cooper, Paul Molitor, Robin Yount and Ryan Braun have made multiple appearances in the mid-season classic over the past 40-plus years.
But there have also been a handful of players who have worn the Brewers uniform who had short careers in Milwaukee; for some, their stay in the Brew City was only one season. But in that season they represented the Brewers in the All-Star Game.
Following is a look at the 10 players who represented the Brewers in the All-Star Game yet played in Milwaukee for only three seasons or less.
Tommy Harper, infielder, 1970 all-star: Harper came to Milwaukee in 1970 as a member of the Seattle Pilots. He played for the Brewers two seasons before he was traded to Boston after the 1971 season. He played 454 games as a Pilot/Brewer hitting .264 with 54 home runs.
Marty Pattin, pitcher, 1971 all-star: Another member of the Seattle Pilot contingent. Won 14 games in each of two seasons in Milwaukee. Pitched in 106 games as Pilot/Brewer compiling a 35-38 record with a 3.82 ERA. Was part of the trade that sent Harper to the Red Sox.
Ellie Rodriguez, catcher, 1972 all-star: Came to the Brewers in a 1971 trade with the Kansas City Royals. Hit .255 in 325 games (three seasons) with the team. Hit .285 in his ’72 all-star season. Traded to the California Angels after the 1973 campaign.
Hank Aaron, designated hitter, 1975 all-star: Made 11 All-Star Game appearances as a Milwaukee Brave. Spent the last two years of his career as a Brewer serving primarily as DH. Hit 22 home runs as a Brewer, retiring after the 1976 season.
Jim Sundberg, catcher, 1984 all-star: Spent only one season with the Brewers, coming to the team in a trade with the Texas Rangers. Made the ’84 all-star team in his only season with Milwaukee. Hit .261 with seven HRs and 43 RBIs. Was traded after the ’84 season to the Royals.
Dave Parker, designated hitter, 1990 all-star: Another one-year stop player with the Brewers. Parker, a mainstay of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1970’s, was signed as a free agent by the Brewers. He hit .289 with 21 homers and 92 RBI in his only season with the club. Was traded to the Angels prior to the start of the 1991 season for Dante Bichette.
Danny Kolb, relief pitcher, 2004 all-star: One of the many short-term relievers that have had success with the Brewers. Pitched in 154 games with the team in three seasons. He had 61 saves and a 3.31 ERA with the team. Had 39 saves in his all-star season. Had two stints with the Brewers, 2003-04 and 2006.
Carlos Lee, outfielder, 2005, 2006 all-star: Played 264 games with the Brewers in two seasons, making the N.L. all-star team as a Brewer both years. Had 60 home runs as a Brewer. Was traded to Texas shortly after the 2006 All-Star Game.
Francisco Cordero, relief pitcher, 2007 all-star: Had 60 saves in two seasons with the Brewers, including 44 in 2007. Left the Brewers after the 2007 season to sign as a free agent with the Cincinnati Reds.
Trevor Hoffman, relief pitcher, 2009 all-star: Played two years with the Brewers and then retired after the 2010 season. Signed as a free agent by the club prior to the ’09 season. Had 47 saves with the team, including 37 in 2009.
While the above players may have only had short careers in Milwaukee, here’s a look at the Brewers players who have the most All-Star Game appearances in a Brewers uniform.
All-Star Game appearances (as a Brewer), Players
5: Cecil Cooper, Paul Molitor
4: Ryan Braun, Don Money, Ben Sheets
3: Prince Fielder, Ben Oglivie, Dan Plesac, Robin Yount
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