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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Even though they have only won two Gold Glove awards since 1982 (Robin Yount was honored in 1982 and Carlos Gomez was selected in 2013), that doesn’t mean the Milwaukee Brewers have not had players who were stellar defensively… and worthy of an award.
In fact, there have been several players who have gone the whole season without an error. While that doesn’t necessarily mean that player should have won the Gold Glove that year, it does indicate that several Brewers players had a “perfect” season with the glove in those seasons.
Here’s a look at the Brewers players who went the whole season without an error (minimum of 300 innings played in the field that season to qualify for this list).
Ryan Braun, OF, 2008, 1,310.1 errorless innings
Gorman Thomas, OF, 1978, 1,173 errorless innings
Geoff Jenkins, OF, 2003, 1,088.1 errorless innings
Darryl Hamilton, OF, 1992, 1,056 errorless innings
Devon White, OF, 2001, 784 errorless innings
Logan Schafer, OF, 2013, 663 errorless innings
Nyler Morgan, OF, 2012, 587.1 errorless innings
Carlos Gomez, OF, 2011, 569 errorless innings
Steve Brye, OF, 1977, 555.1 errorless innings
Mike Felder, OF, 1986, 348 errorless innings
Mike Hegan, 1B, 1971, 319.2 errorless innings
Joe Kmak, C, 1993, 316.1 errorless innings
Jim Colburn, P, 1973, 314.1 errorless innings
Bill Schroeder, C-1B, 1988, 300 errorless innings
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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.
Here’s a trivia question for today (the answer will appear at the end of this column)… Can you name the youngest and oldest players to hit a home run for the Brewers?
Last night top prospect Rafael Devers became the youngest Boston Red Sox player to hit a home run in more than 50 years at age 20 years and 275 days. In case you were wondering, the youngest player ever to hit an HR in a major league game was Tommy Brown on August 20, 1945. Brown was 17 years, 257 days old when he homered that day for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Since 2000, the youngest player to hit a home run in the majors was Jurickson Profar of Texas. He was 19 years and 195 days when he hit his long ball on September 2, 2012.
Now to answer the above trivia question… if you answered Robin Yount and Hank Aaron, you know your Brewers trivia. Yount was 18-209 when he hit his first homer for the Brewers. Aaron was 42-166 when he hit his last HR for the Brew Crew.
Here’s a look at the six youngest and six oldest Brewers to ever hit a home run for the team.
Youngest (Years-Days) Robin Yount 18-209 Darrell Porter 19-240 Gary Sheffield 19-296 Sixto Lezcano 20-296 Prince Fielder 21-047 Yovani Gallardo 21-174
Oldest (Years-Days) Hank Aaron 42-166 Rick Dempsey 41-342 Craig Counsell 41-013 Jim Edmonds 40-029 Jim Gantner 39-222 Dave Parker 39-093