A carousel at shortstop; 30-100 Brewers
Are there any more players who will take a shot at shortstop for the Brewers this season? So far in 2018, the Brewers have had six different players who have taken a turn playing short: Orlando Arcia, Brad Miller, Nate Orf, Hernan Perez, Tyler Saladino and Eric Sogard.
The six different players at shortstop are tied for the third most by the team in a season (six players also played short in 1986, 1978 and 1971). The most shortstops used by the Brewers franchise in a season was eight. That happened in 1969 when the team was in Seattle as the Seattle Pilots. The second most shortstops used was in 2012 when seven players played short for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Here are the names of the shortstops used by the franchise in those 1969 and 2012 seasons.
1969 (eight shortstops used): Ron Clark, John Donaldson, Gus Gil, John Kennedy, Gordy Lund, Ray Oyler and Fred Stanley.
2012: (seven shortstops used): Jeff Bianchi, Brooks Conrad, Alex Gonzalez, Cesar Izturis, Edwin Maysonet, Cody Ranson, Jean Segura
In case you were wondering, there has never been a season for the Brewers where they used only one shortstop the whole season. There have been, however, six different seasons where they used only two shortstops in a campaign… 1970 (Ted Kubiak and Roberto Pena), 1976 (Tim Johnson and Robin Yount), 1981 (Robin Yount and Ed Romero), 1991 (Bill Spiers and Dale Sveum), 1998 (Mark Loretta and Jose Valentin) and 2005 (Bill Hall and J.J. Hardy).
Last season Travis Shaw became the first Brewers player since 2012 (Ryan Braun) to have 30 or more home runs and 100 or more RBIs in a season. Shaw had 31 HRs and 101 RBIs in 2017.
Through games of July 20, Shaw has 18 homers and has driven in 55. He is on pace to end the season with 29 HRs and 90 RBI.
If he can reach 30-100 again this season, Shaw would become the first Brewers player since Braun (2011 and 2012) to have back-to-back 30-100 seasons for the Brew Crew.
There have been five Brewers players who had back-to-back 30-100 seasons: Gorman Thomas (1979 and 1980), Cecil Cooper (1982 and 1983), Jeromy Burnitz (1998 and 1999), Prince Fielder (2007, 2008 and 2009) and Braun, who did it twice (2008 and 2009; 2011 and 2012).
Braun and Fielder are tied for the most 30-100 seasons with the club; each had four in a Brewers uniform. Burnitz and Thomas each had three 30-100 seasons in Milwaukee, while Cooper, Ben Oglivie and Richie Sexson are the only other Brewers to have multiple 30-100 seasons with the Brew Crew, each with two.
Alex Rodriguez leads the majors with the most 30-100 seasons with 14. He is followed by Jimmie Foxx, Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez and babe Ruth, each who had 12 such seasons.
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It seems to be a question I get asked quite a bit these days, although it’s never worded the same:
“How are they doing it?”
The “they” are the Milwaukee Brewers, and the “it” is winning games and sitting in first place in the National League Central.
The answer to this type of question has a lot of potential responses. Let me point out three players in particular (Zach Davies, Travis Shaw and Eric Thames) with a handful of stats to trumpet their first-half success.
Zach Davies: The second-year right-hander has a 10-4 record at the break. He is the first pitcher since Wily Peralta in 2014 to have 10 wins in the first half of the season (Peralta was 10-6 at the All-Star break in ’14).
Davies becomes the 15th pitcher in team history to have 10 or more wins in the first half of the season… it has happened 19 times. Ben Sheets holds the team record with three seasons where he had 10+ wins in the first half. Chris Capuano and Lary Sorenson are the other Brewers pitchers to have 10+ win before the All-Star break in multiple seasons with the team.
Jim Colborn holds the team record with most first half wins with 13. He was 13-5 before the All-Star break in 1973.
Of the pitchers who had 10+ wins in the first half of the season with the Brewers, only two were able to win 20 for the season: Teddy Higuera in 1986 and Colborn in ’73.
Travis Shaw: With 65 RBI at the break, Shaw became the 12th Brewer to reach that number in the first half of a season. He is the first to do so since Prince Fielder in 2011.
Fielder (three times), Carlos Lee (twice) and Greg Vaughn (twice) are the Brewers players who had 65+ RBIs in the first half of a season multiple times.
Fielder holds the team mark for most RBIs in the first half of a season with 78; he did it in 2009. Lee had 76 in 2005 and Vaughn had 75 in 1996. Other Brewers players with 70 or more RBI’s before the All-Star break were Jeromy Burnitz (73 in 1996), Lee (73 in 2006), Fielder (72 in 2011), Richie Sexson (70 in 2003) and Fielder (70 in 2007).
Eric Thames: With 23 home runs in the first half of the 2017 season, Thames became the eighth Brewers player with 23+ home runs before the All-Star break. Fielder tops the club with 29 HRs at the break in 2007. Lee (in 2006) and Burnitz (1999) are next with 26, followed by Sexson with 25 (in 2003). Ryan Braun was the last Brewers player with 23 or more homers at the break; he had 24 in 2012. Vaughn also had 24 in 1996. Thames tied Braun (23 in 2008) and Gorman Thomas (23 in 1979).
When the Brewers allowed Chris Carter, last year’s HR king, to leave the team after one season for free agency, many questioned that move. Then when they signed Eric Thames, a virtual unknown who did light up the Korean League, to replace Carter, again, a lot of people were shaking their heads.
Now 20 games into the 2017 season, Thames is making a name for himself by leading the league in home runs and topping the Brewers in several hitting categories including HRs, runs scored and hits.
With eight homers, 21 runs scored and 23 hits, Thames may threaten a few Brewers records for April. With six games remaining, Thames is…
… two HRs short of the team record for HRs in April. Ryan Braun and Carlos Lee each slugged 10; Braun in 2011, Lee in 2006…
… three runs short of the club record of 24 runs scored in April held by Braun (24 in 2011) and Rickie Weeks (24 in 2008)…
… a healthy 13 hits short of the team record for hits in April. Braun had 36 in 2011 and Fernando Vina had 36 in 1998.
The Brewers as a team top the majors with 34 home runs in 20 games, an average of 1.7 per game. That pace would give them 275 for the season. That would top the MLB record of 264 hit by the Seattle Mariners in 1997. The Brewers team record for HRs in a season is 231 in 2007.
With six games remaining in April, the Brewers team could threaten the team mark for April HRs which is 39 (done in 2001). They would need to hit six in the next six games to top that mark.
New third baseman Travis Shaw is also making a fast impression on his new team and fans. Shaw tops the club with eight doubles and 18 RBI. With six games remaining in April, he could realistically set new marks in both those categories for the month. His eight doubles is just one short of the team record for April, nine, held by Cecil Cooper (in 1979) and Alex Sanchez (2003). His 18 RBI is just two short of the team record held by six different players. Braun was the last Brewers player to collect 20 RBI in April (he did it in 2010).