The Mount Rushmore of the Milwaukee Brewers

Ben Sheets / Presswire

We turn our attention to another of the 1969 expansion teams, although this one was known as the Seattle Pilots back then.

For a franchise that has only made 4 playoff appearances (and finished first in their division only 3 times in 43 seasons), they’ve had a lot of great players.

Let’s take a peek.

Here are the franchise WAR leaders among batters:

Rk Player WAR/pos From To
1 Robin Yount 72.4 1974 1993
2 Paul Molitor 58.0 1978 1992
3 Cecil Cooper 28.2 1977 1987
4 Ryan Braun 27.6 2007 2012
5 Don Money 26.1 1973 1983
6 Jeff Cirillo 24.5 1994 2006
7 George Scott 20.8 1972 1976
8 Geoff Jenkins 20.1 1998 2007
9 Jim Gantner 19.6 1976 1992
10 Ben Oglivie 19.6 1978 1986
11 Sixto Lezcano 17.5 1974 1980
12 Gorman Thomas 16.5 1973 1986
13 Prince Fielder 15.8 2005 2011
14 Jeromy Burnitz 14.5 1996 2001
15 Corey Hart 13.8 2004 2012
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/21/2012.

Ryan Braun would be a great choice for this franchise’s monument, but he’s only 4th in WAR. He’s got two Hall of Famers ahead of him, not to mention Cecil Cooper. I know a lot of Brewers fans love Jim Gantner but he’s way down the line.

Among individual seasons, Tommy Harper‘s 1970 is the 3rd best the team has ever seen, and Greg Vaughn tied for 7th. Bill Hall clocks in at 14th.

Now let’s check out the pitchers:

Rk Player WAR From To
1 Teddy Higuera 28.9 1985 1994
2 Ben Sheets 24.1 2001 2008
3 Chris Bosio 17.3 1986 1992
4 Bill Wegman 16.2 1985 1995
5 Mike Caldwell 15.7 1977 1984
6 Moose Haas 14.2 1976 1985
7 Jim Slaton 13.3 1971 1983
8 Cal Eldred 11.8 1991 1999
9 Dan Plesac 11.5 1986 1992
10 Lary Sorensen 11.4 1977 1980
11 Jim Colborn 11.0 1972 1976
12 Yovani Gallardo 9.6 2007 2012
13 Doug Davis 9.1 2003 2010
14 Ken Sanders 8.5 1970 1972
15 Scott Karl 8.4 1995 1999
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/21/2012.

Slim pickings. Higuera and Sheets both posted some great seasons with the team but stopped short from injuries.

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48 Comments on "The Mount Rushmore of the Milwaukee Brewers"

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dayf
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Oh come ON. Braun is 4th in WAR, but he’s also 28 years old and signed through 2020. He’s got a better career than Cecil Cooper even if he were to get abducted by aliens tonight and never play again. Don’t get me started about Teddy Higuera.

Max
Guest

*pokes with stick* oh no, I am getting you started on Teddy Higuera…

Luis Gomez
Guest

By all means, please start…

John Autin
Guest

I’m not sure what dayf’s point is. I think Higuera’s career achievements with the Brewers surpass those of Braun to date. And regardless of contract length, future performance cannot be anticipated — or doesn’t Higuera provide a clear enough illustration of that?

Jason Z
Guest

Yount, Molitor, and Braun were obvious to me.

I took Gantner fourth due to length of service.

I will use the same logic for Frank White when we get to the Royals.

I do understand that Frank White was significantly better than Gantner.

Phil
Guest

Yount, Molitor, and Braun, and, since I can’t vote for Jim Bouton or Joe Schultz, I’ll go with George Scott under the first-franchise-star rule, plus he drew MVP support in four out of his five years with the Brewers. (By the numbers, I know Cooper or Higuera or Fielder deserve it more.)

topper009
Guest

I voted for Yount, Molitor and Braun and I wanted to add Bob Uecker as the last one but it wasn’t working for me. If any non player (and Uecker will be the first to admit he was never a player) deserves any of these its Harry Doyle (a Milwaukee Native) with the Brewers

e pluribus munu
Guest

For me, the singleton ’82 pennant and close series is the Brewers’ anchor – a great hitter’s team and lots of fun to watch – and I voted for Cooper, in addition to the two HoF guys. I left the fourth slot open for Braun, but there’s too much at risk to carve such a young player in stone – think of the earthmoving costs if things go downhill!

Shping
Guest
Braun is a fierce competitior and great hitter who will eventually earn his place, but not quite yet. Cooper had at least a half-dozen very good years, including a .352 avg in 1980 and the most important hit in franchise history in 1982 ALCS. Plus he was an early team leader and veteran anchor, much like Don Money, only better and with a truly unique, sweet batting stance that rivaled Yaz, Carew and Brett. Then there’s Uecker, who’s been the steady icon and voice of the franchise for 30+ yrs. Ask any Brewers fan, any age, who they’d most like… Read more »
tag
Guest
I think you guys are missing the boat on some of these Mt. Rushmore posts. The idea, as I take it, is to choose players whom you and fans in general identify with a specific franchise, and not merely its best players or leaders in WAR. In Milwaukee’s case, if Gorman Thomas is not up there in rock with Yount and Molly it’s a crime against brats and beer and Al McGuire and all that is right and true about Milwaukee. Gorman Thomas embodied the Brewers. I lived in the city for a few years in the 1970s and he,… Read more »
Doug
Guest

I picked Thomas, along with Yount, Molitor, and Cooper before I saw your comment. If there was a fifth spot, it would have gone to Ben Oglivie or maybe a white guy with a mustache, any of them. I started watching baseball around 1982, so the Milwaukee Brewers will always be the kind of team that has Gorman Thomas playing CF. Having them in the National League is a crime against humanity.

tag
Guest

Doug, my wife would agree with you 100% about Benji. She was a big fan and even dressed up one Halloween as him. You have to have a certain posterior attribute to pull it off, which she did, impressively.

And I agree that the Crew in the NL is Á Rebour, or against nature as the French say.

Phil
Guest

“The idea, as I take it, is to choose players whom you and fans in general identify with a specific franchise, and not merely its best players or leaders in WAR.”

Agree with this totally, and I’ve tried to approach these lists with this is mind. Hometown fans will always have the best perspective on this.

Library Dave
Guest
Tangent relating to Gorman Thomas: what happened in Sacramento in 1974? Thomas hit 51 homers, and didn’t even lead his team! In all, Sacramento had 5 of the top 7 homer hitters, and 6 of the top 10. That’s not even counting guys like Jack Lind, who hit 18, but only hit 14 combined for the rest of his career. Team/league leader Bill McNulty hit 55, but never before or after hit more than 27. I know the stadium had a short left field line, but that doesn’t explain why the next two years saw a huge drop in the… Read more »
brp
Guest

Yount, Molitor, and Braun have to be on there. Braun will easily bypass Cooper before June is over and I think everyone has to acknowledge Braun’s a better player.

I picked Gantner 4th due to his longevity, but there really isn’t a fourth guy. Vuckovich? Fingers? Gorman Thomas as argued above? Cooper? Doesn’t really matter… The temptation is to load it up with 1982 Brewers. As far as pitchers… meh… Sheets was a true ace for a couple years but I barely even remember him and it’s only been a few years.

Brandon
Guest

Copied from my 1984 Topps blog on Gorman Thomas:
Thomas spent most of the ’74 season with the AAA Sacramento Solons where he hit 51 HRs in 474 at bats.  This didn’t even lead the team as Doug McNulty hit 55.  The Solons home field was Hughs Field. Converted from a football field to a baseball field for the summer, the leftfield fence was only 233 feet away from home plate! As a team the Solons hit 305 homeruns and their unfortunate pitchers gave up 301.

John Autin
Guest

Move over, Bert Blyleven! Tom Hausman served up 50 HRs in 180 IP with those ’74 Sacramento Solons.
http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=hausma001tho

It’s too bad that team was an AL affiliate and only in the DH era — it would have been fun to see pitchers’ hitting stats in that park.

tag
Guest

How cool and redolent of an earlier America that Sacramento called its minor league club the Solons. If I recall my study of the classics correctly, weren’t Solons senators from ancient Greece? Imagine some club trying to get away with that now.

Paul E
Guest

tag:
Per Wikipedia:
” ” Solon established publicly funded brothels at Athens in order to “democratize” the availability of sexual pleasure” ”

Now, THAT’S a Socialist worthy of the trust of the electorate

tag
Guest

Thanks, Paul E. I remember the term being generally applied to ancient Athenian senators but forgot it derived from a single lawmaker. I wonder if Sacramento had any idea whom they were memorializing with their moniker.

Paul E
Guest

Of course they had an idea. Solons sounded better than Pimps

Nash Bruce
Guest

If there were someday a team called the “Pennsylvania Pimps”, then I would hope that there would also one day, on this site, be a discussion as to who would be on their Mt. Rushmore…..

tag
Guest

Well, it’s alliterative and pimps is not. Had to be the reason they went with it.

John Autin
Editor

Nash, I know you were going for alliteration, but I think the Pimps would have to play here.

tag
Guest

Ah, okay, now we are alliterative with the Pennsylvania Pimps. I’m going with Superfly for sure, and Fast Black, the guy Morgan Freeman played in his greatest movie role ever, though I’m not sure about his career WAR rates against the other great procurers.

tag
Guest

Perfect, John. What it loses in alliteration it makes up for in…

Brandon
Guest

Doh! That should read 1983 Topps Blog. Darn cell phone

Brandon
Guest

And Library Dave, to fully answer your question I believe they moved into a legitimate baseball field after the HR filled ’74 season.

Library Dave
Guest

Thanks Brandon. A little more searching, and I would have found my own answer: according to the B-R Bullpen, they changed the wall distance and height for 1975-76. Helpfully, Wikipedia provided a link to Richard Pryor playing shortstop (in shorts?!?) for Sacramento, in which you can see the left field fence.comment image

tag
Guest

Man, only in America, and I mean that in the best possible way. The greatest black comedian ever playing shortstop (in shorts?!? as Library Dave aptly noted) for a team in a classic Reaganite city of the time.

Darien
Guest

I’m surprised Prince Fielder ranks so low on the WAR list — with how much attention he gets, I’d have expected him to be more than half as good as Braun. That said, I went with Yount, Molitor, Braun, and Higuera; Braun, to my mind, has already earned his spot on the wall, and I’ve always personally had a soft spot for Higuera. Not to mention I wanted a pitcher on there somewhere. 🙂

bstar
Guest

Darien, I think Fielder’s WAR total may have suffered a bit in the recent changes that B-Ref made to their WAR system. I don’t know the specifics, but I’m pretty sure Fielder had at least two 5+ WAR years under his belt with the old system, but now only has one.

As for comparing him to Braun, Fielder had two definite off-years in his time with the Brewers while Braun still may not have reached his peak.

tag
Guest

I would be remiss if I didn’t make a mention of another Thomas who played for the Brewers. He perhaps belongs on baseball’s Rushmore of troubled souls, or of memorable monikers, but “The Sundown Kid” could also hit. I only saw him play a couple times, but I’ll never forget him. RIP.

topper009
Guest

Someone that has not been mentioned at all is Hank Aaron, he did play 2 seasons with the Brewers but obviously has a special place in the hearts of Milwaukee fans. His number is retired by the Brewers also.

Tmckelv
Guest

Yount, Molitor, Braun and Higuera just over Cecil Cooper.

We can’t even make a Mount Rushmore out of the 1982 Brew Crew they were so awesome – Yount, Molitor, Thomas, Oglivie, Cooper, etc.

Also, special nods for Sixto Lezcano and Bernie Brewer.

Robert
Guest
Does anyone else agree that contraction of a few expansion teams would make Baseball better? The players on the contracted teams would be distributed throughout the majors with the teams with the worst record picking first. For me, I can’t touch the 61 and 62 expansions. They have been around so long that they get a pass, 1969. Two teams would go. First, the Royals. I don’t care how many good young players they have, they stink and have for years. The bonus part of this move is to send the A’s back to KC, solving the Bay Area problem,… Read more »
John Nacca
Guest

Kansas City and Tampa…..two cities that don’t support their teams, yet also don;’t play in new ballparks (which leaves Pittsburgh and Cleveland alive).

Robert
Guest
You shouldn’t contract original teams like Cleveland and Pittsburg. Cleveland sold out how many games during those good years? The Pirates are a great baseball town with a beautiful new stadium. What’s going on there is inexcusable. There should be strict monitering of profit shares in places that lose every year. No money in owners pockets. Moving to ’77, it’s time for both the Mariners and Jays to go. After eliminating the cheap ownership in Seatle, I would put the Brewers back in Seattle as the Pilots, and move the Braves back to Milwaukee. A case could be made that… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
I think your views may be shaped by your loyalties, Robert and John. I miss the focus of the 16-team era (a number my mind was strong enough to keep track of). But these teams have real fans and traditions (and I think Tampa is growing a much richer one than Florida/Miami has). In my view, KC fans have been tremendously supportive of a team without deep pockets (and I think a review of the 13-year history of the KC A’s would assure you that no one in KC would ever want them back – the team was not only… Read more »
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