The All-Time Milwaukee Brewers Team

Franchise History

Milwaukee Brewers (1970- )
Seattle Pilots (1969)

No franchise that started in Seattle has ever won a World Series. The Brewers were only the Seattle Pilots for one year, but their 44 years combined with the Mariners’ 36 adds up to almost as much futility as a certain drought that ended with a “curse” being broken.

Perhaps not surprisingly, there’s not a single member of the ’69 Pilots on this all-time team.

 

WAR Statistics referenced for each player are from Baseball-Reference.com. All other statistics used here are gathered from that site as well.

An asterisk (*) denotes a Hall of Famer.

Starters

C – Darrell Porter (1971-1976)

1B – Cecil Cooper (1977-1987)

2B – Jim Gantner (1976-1992)

SS – Robin Yount* (1974-1993)

3B – Paul Molitor* (1978-1992)

LF – Ryan Braun (2007- )

CF – Gorman Thomas (1973-1976, 1978-1983, 1986)

RF – Sixto Lezcano (1974-1980)

When I’m working on these teams, I scour the internet for other all-time teams for comparison purposes. While several of these positions were a consensus, catcher was not one of them. In fact, I saw B.J. Surhoff (no surprise), Ted Simmons (not surprising, but a little misguided) and Dave Nilsson (even though his best years were after he stopped donning the tools of ignorance regularly) as starters on other all-time Brewers teams. They all have it wrong. Porter is the greatest catcher in Milwaukee history.

Don Money was probably a better player than Gantner—for his overall career and his time in Milwaukee—but squeezing Money into the starting lineup would mean moving Molitor to second or playing Money there.* Molitor played almost twice as much at third as he did at second, and Money was only a regular second baseman for one year with the Brewers. Plus, Gantner’s in the franchise’s top five in defensive WAR, runs, hits, total bases and stolen bases, so he’s certainly worthy of being recognized here.

*Or, I suppose Molitor could be the DH, but since for just a little more than half of the team’s history (1973-1997) they were an American League DH-era team, and Molitor was only a regular DH for his final two years in Milwaukee, I chose not to go that route.

Both Ben Oglivie and Geoff Jenkins played primarily left field for the Brew Crew. They accumulated a little more value than Lezcano, so I considered moving one of them to right, but Sixto was a slightly better player (Lezcano: 125 OPS+, 4.1 WAR/162; Jenkins: 116 OPS+, 3.2 WAR/162; Oglivie: 124 OPS+, 3.2 WAR/162) during his shorter tenure and was a true right fielder, so he gets the nod. I promise this has nothing to do with the fact he has perhaps the greatest name in baseball history.

 

Rotation

Teddy Higuera (1985-1991, 1993-1994)

Ben Sheets (2001-2008)

Chris Bosio (1986-1992)

Mike Caldwell (1977-1984)

Bill Wegman (1985-1995)

 

Closer

Dan Plesac (1986-1992)

 

Reserves

C – B.J. Surhoff (1987-1995)

1B – George Scott (1972-1976)

IF – Don Money (1973-1983)

3B – Jeff Cirillo (1994-1999, 2005-2006)

OF – Ben Oglivie (1978-1986)

OF – Geoff Jenkins (1998-2007)

Typically, I insist on each team having a realistic bench. This includes carrying at least one player capable of backing up at each position, most importantly catcher, shortstop and center field. Neither Oglivie nor Jenkins is a legitimate option in center, but Yount is, so we’ve got that covered. However, Money’s days as a shortstop were mostly numbered by the time he arrived in Milwaukee. In fact, Molitor played more games there as a Brewer. So, this team is a little weak on the bench at that position. But, what was I supposed to do, take Jose Valentin?

 

Bullpen

Rollie Fingers* (1981-1982, 1984-1985)

Ken Sanders (1970-1972)

Mike Fetters (1992-1997)

Yovani Gallardo (2007- )

Jim Slaton (1971-1977, 1979-1983)

Fingers is a Hall of Famer, but his time in Milwaukee doesn’t compare to Plesac’s run as closer there, so he’ll have to share setup duties with Sanders and Fetters, while Gallardo and Slaton fill the long reliever/spot starter roles. Slaton is the franchise’s all-time wins leader, but his 97 ERA+ says he was basically an average pitcher. An average pitcher over 2000+ innings of work, that is, which still earns him a spot on this team.

 

Manager

Harvey Kuenn (1975, 1982-1983)

Kuenn is certainly the most famous manager in the Brewers’ short history, having led a team that was nicknamed Harvey’s Wallbangers to the franchise’s one and only World Series appearance in 1982. But, considering he only managed one full season, the 1983 campaign in which his team finished a respectable 87-75 and he was subsequently fired, his selection isn’t a no-brainer.

 

Greatest Eligible non-Hall of Famer

I’ve said this before, but this selection can be a little tricky. Here I’m looking for the best Hall-eligible player who would wear a Brewers cap on his plaque if he happened to be elected. There are three Hall of Famers on this team, and Braun and Gallardo are still active, so that leaves 20 remaining candidates.

Among those 20, only Cecil Cooper, Don Money, Jeff Cirillo, George Scott, B.J. Surhoff and Darrell Porter were worth over 30 career WAR. I’ll add Teddy Higuera (28.9) to the mix, because he falls just short and is the only pitcher really worthy of this discussion. Between them, this group received a grand total of four Hall of Fame votes, so I probably don’t need to say that it’s pretty slim pickings.

Surhoff, who quite unbelievably received two of the four aforementioned votes, played one more year in Milwaukee than in Baltimore, but enjoyed most of his better seasons with the Orioles, including his only All-Star appearance and two trips to the postseason, so I’m ruling him out.

Porter played almost an identical number of games with Milwaukee, Kansas City and St. Louis, but his best years were clearly the Royals years, including two top ten MVP finishes and three All-Star appearances, so he’s out.

That leaves Cooper, Money, Cirillo, Scott—who played longer in Boston, but clearly had his best years in Milwaukee—and Higuera, who technically isn’t Hall-eligible because he only played nine years, but that’s kind of a silly rule. Here’s how they look based on Hall Rating:

Cooper – 63

Higuera – 63

Cirillo – 63

Money – 61

Scott – 57

Just what I thought. Well, I’ll admit I really didn’t expect Cirillo to rank that highly, but I’m not surprised there’s really not much separating these guys in terms of their overall careers. In such cases, I like to fall back on who produced the most for the team in question. That essentially means it’s down to Higuera and Cooper, who are 4th and 5th in team history in WAR, after Yount, Molitor and Braun.

Higuera’s an interesting case—although, as I previously said, he’s technically not eligible for the Hall of Fame—but I’m sticking with my original decision that Cecil Cooper is the Brewers’ greatest eligible non-Hall of Famer. Cooper is basically third (behind Yount and Molitor) in the team’s history in just about every offensive category: runs, hits, total bases, doubles, runs created, extra base hits, times on base. Alright, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but he’s also second all-time in RBI.

Cooper enjoyed a nice five-year peak from 1979-1983, during which he batted .320/.359/.517 (143 OPS+) with 123 HR, 535 RBI and 459 runs scored, winning three Silver Sluggers, and finishing 5th in AL MVP voting three times and 8th another time. He also won two Gold Gloves and was named to four All-Star teams during a period in which he was worth 23.3 WAR.

These years comprise his age 29 to 33 seasons, so he was a bit of a late bloomer. He also didn’t produce much beyond his prime, so there are no Hall of Fame discussions regarding Cecil Cooper. Still, for a short period of time, he was capable of producing at a very high level, and he’s certainly a player worth remembering.

79 thoughts on “The All-Time Milwaukee Brewers Team

  1. 1
    Dr. Doom says:

    Yay Brew Crew!

    A couple things:

    I would ABSOLUTELY put Dave Nilsson as the backup catcher. He could be moved to play elsewhere, too, which would make him much more useful than Surhoff.

    It’s truly frightening how, until just a couple of years ago, you could make the argument that the Brewers all-time team was… the 1982 Brewers. In my opinion, it’s basically Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder that made that argument totally moot. But it seriously had merit circa 2008.

    As a Brewers fan, I have to say it: if you’d allow us to cheat and keep the half-season of CC Sabathia in 2008, we’d gladly take that over anyone else. Best pitcher rental of all-time (now nervously realizing that someone will likely pick this idea up and do a post about it, proving me wrong…).

    How could you keep two 1B on the roster but exclude Prince Fielder? It’s pretty shocking to me that you’d take Scott over him. There’s a strong argument to be made for Fielder ahead of Cooper, too, so I don’t think it’s justifiable to leave him off.

    • 2
      PP says:

      Agree on Boomer. But I’m giving a shout out to him anyway, Red Sox HOFer, .283, .342, .456, 115 taters, 20.8 WAR, 131 OPS+ over 5 years with the Brew Crew.

    • 6

      Surhoff had a little versatility too.

      Re: Prince Fielder, I use WAR/WAA as a starting point to get a feel for how good/valuable a player was during his time with the team, as opposed to his entire career. b-ref WAR absolutely despises Fielder’s defense, which is probably why I didn’t take as close a look at him vs. Scott as I should have.

      So, I made the comparison of the two players based on fWAR to get a second opinion, and it’s about as close as it get: Scott – 23.3, Fielder – 23.2. Scott did that in about 900 fewer plate appearances, but Fielder has the advantage in most counting stats…which counts for something in my book. It’s definitely a debatable point. But, I don’t see how there’s an argument for Fielder over Cooper, to be honest.

      Incidentally, fWAR HATES Fielder’s defense too. I’d say the eye tests confirms this. He’s a pretty bad…fielder.

    • 7
      Lawrence Azrin says:

      I might pick Prince Fielder over Cecil Cooper in a peak/career argument, but #6/Dan below beat me to it – Prince’s defense (Rfield of -75/7 years; Cooper about average) really cuts into his overall value). I’d still take Prince over George Scott on peak, and I’m a George Scott fan – I have fond memories of him from my 1st years following the Red Sox.

      Useless factoid #1: Cecil Cooper is one of the very best players to be on the HOF ballot and not get a SINGLE vote.

      Useless factoid #2: Gorman Thomas played for Seattle in between stints #2 and #3 w/the Brewers – he was playing for the Mariners the night of Roger Klemens’ first 20-K game, April 29th,1986 (surprisingly, he hit a go-ahead HR, and K’ed only once).

      KInd of stunning that 20 years after Yount retired and Molitor went to the Blue Jays, those two are _far and away_ the Brewers two best players…

      • 13
        Chuck says:

        “KInd of stunning that 20 years after Yount retired and Molitor went to the Blue Jays, those two are _far and away_ the Brewers two best players…”

        Why is that “stunning”?

        Hall of Famers don’t exactly grow on trees.

        • 16
          Lawrence Azrin says:

          The dropoff from Yount/Molitor to whomever is #3 all-time in Brewers history (Cooper? Braun yet?) is pretty steep, especially for a team that’s been around since 1969.

          Compare that to the team that’s been in Seatlle since 1977 – you’ve got Junior Griffey, Edgar Martinez, and Ichiro for starters, then A-Rod and Randy Johnson and Jay Buhner and Jamie Moyer, not to mention King Felix building his resume.

          I suppose we could do this more scientifically – perhaps total AS game selections, Top-10 appearances in seasonal WAR, or MVP-shares divided by {years franchise is in existence}? I’ll leave that to B-R P-I subscibers.

        • 56
          Doug says:

          Here are the Brewers’ WAR leaders since 1994 (after Yount’s retirement).

          Rk Player WAR/pos From To Age G
          1 Ryan Braun 32.0 2007 2012 23-28 883
          2 Jeff Cirillo 24.6 1994 2006 24-36 978
          3 Geoff Jenkins 20.2 1998 2007 23-32 1234
          4 Prince Fielder 15.3 2005 2011 21-27 998
          5 Corey Hart 14.6 2004 2012 22-30 945
          6 Jeromy Burnitz 14.5 1996 2001 27-32 782
          7 Rickie Weeks 12.0 2003 2012 20-29 917
          8 Richie Sexson 10.4 2000 2003 25-28 534
          9 J.J. Hardy 10.1 2005 2009 22-26 571
          10 Jose Valentin 9.9 1994 1999 24-29 739
          Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
          Generated 2/8/2013.
          • 59
            topper009 says:

            Goeff Jenkins was an outstanding defensive outfielder, and really the face of the Brewers during their terrible logo era of 1994-1999. Or maybe Cirillo

            Jeronmy Burnitz quietly put up some decent years for the Crew, highlighted by starting the 1999 all-star game (the only Brewer to start an all-star game in the 90s)

            He got the first hit for the NL and scored the first run for the squad (although he didnt have to face Pedro “The Meal Ticket” Martinez who struck out 5 of his 6 batters faced.

            Jose Valentine (don’t forget to give your novia a Jose Valetine next week) actually had some pop for a middle infielder, finishing with 249 HR (only 2 fewer than Robin Yount). I seem recall his power being very skewed towards hitting lefthanded, but the splits are broken on baseball-ref right now.

            And Richie Sexson’s claim to fame is hitting the longest triple since the Polo Grounds on a blast that hit high off the flag pole in CF in Houston and headed back to the OF.

          • 73

            Goeff Jenkins was an outstanding defensive outfielder, and really the face of the Brewers during their terrible logo era of 1994-1999. Or maybe Cirillo

            Nooooooooo!!!! I loved that logo, and the font that came with it! That was the exact same period the Astros had their best logo design too, and I miss them both….

    • 15
      Voomo Zanzibar says:

      Best rental of all time?

      Well, the Cubs re-sogned Sutcliffe after ’84, so that’s eliminated.
      Statistically, Randy Johnson with the Astros is in the argument with CC.

      Sabathia had 6 more starts, but.

      10-1
      1.28
      322 era+
      4 shutouts

      vs

      11-2
      1.65
      255 era+
      3 shutouts (7 CG)
      _____________________

      And Carsten Charles bonked in his playoff start.
      Randy lost both his games, but he was competitive:
      14 IP
      3 ER

      • 54
        topper009 says:

        Sabathia was so dominant he led both leagues in shutouts in 2008.

        And he threw a no-hitter which was incorrectly ruled a 1 hitter. I was at the game in Pittsburgh for my annual Brewer roadtrip. The only “hit” occured on a comebacker that was bobbled and dropped by Sabathia, pretty clear error. After the game we went to some popular spot where they put french fries on the burgers, I forget the name. It was recommended to us by then Brewer sideline reporter and later MLB network correspondant Treni Kusnieriek, which she was familiar with because of her former job as a reporter in Pittsburgh. The food was fine but the Steel City beer was not very strong, probably should be called brass city beer. While there some local was making fun of the Brewers for being th fattest team in the league (Sabathia, Fielder, etc) We responded by lementing that althoug we signed CC to steal 50 bases and hit 20 triples all he does is throw complete game shutouts instead.

        • 68
          GrandyMan says:

          “popular spot where they put fries on the burgers”

          You’re likely referring to Primanti’s. The tastiest heart attack you’ll ever have.

  2. 3
    Nick Pain says:

    The decision to have Fingers not the closer reminds me of the discussion regrding Rod Carew and the all-time Angels team. I agree with both.

  3. 4
    John Autin says:

    Honorable Mention to Diego Segui, relief ace of the Seattle Pilots. He bridges this post and Doug’s “Mr. Journeyman” with the following trek:

    KC A’s, Senators, KC A’s, Oakland A’s, Pilots, Oakland A’s, Cardinals, Red Sox, and finally (after a good season back at AAA) he ended his career at 39 with the expansion Mariners.

  4. 5
    John Autin says:

    Dan, these look sound choices. I’d still like to see Tommy Harper as a reserve, especially since you aim for a realistic bench.

    Harper only played 3 seasons for the franchise, but in that short time he:
    – Set the club’s season SB record that still stands;
    – Had the only 30-HR year in their first 6 season, and their only 30-30 season before Braun; and
    – Notched the 3rd-best season WAR/pos in club history.

    Plus, think of the versatility! Harper could play just about any position. Badly, yes, but that’s why he’s a bench guy.

    • 9
      Hartvig says:

      Somehow my post says it was made an hour after yours but I swear when I started typing it neither of your posts were here. Anyways, I apologize for appearing to have stolen your ideas when in reality it’s just a case of great minds thinking alike.

    • 51
      Doug says:

      Hear, hear.

      Definitely want Harper for the bench. And, don’t forget the walks, He was good for 80 or so a year which, with his speed, is a not insignificant advantage.

      I was also going to mention the other Tommy on the Pilots, Tommy Davis, if only to remind folks that the 2-time NL batting champion was on that team. Didn’t have a great year with Seattle (probably why he was traded), but continued to be a potent hitter the rest of his career (.290 BA), although with limited walks and power that reduced his value (only 100 OPS+). Davis’s 153 RBI in 1962 has to be among the all-time fluke seasons. Of the 23 players with a 150 RBI season, only Davis never had another 90 RBI season (next lowest Ken Williams with 3 other 90 RBI seasons).

  5. 8
    Hartvig says:

    What your team needs is a Seattle Pilot. Don Mincher probably had the best season among position players in what was his only season with the franchise but it’s tough to see him taking out Cooper, Scott or Fielder. Diego Segui also did a pretty nifty job in his only season with the franchise and would actually fit the role of swingman better than Gallardo or Slaton. But I think the pick should be Tommy Harper who pretty much stunk in Seattle but then put up possibly the best season any Milwaukee third baseman ever had the following year. Plus he has the added advantage of being able to play almost every position on the field.

  6. 11
    no statistician but says:

    Bill James argues that Harvey Kuenn’s coaching was a big factor in making Cecil Cooper into a much better hitter. One more reason for making Kuenn the all-time manager.

    Kind of off the point, but I have a recollection of seeing Kuenn in 1961 at Wrigley, playing for the Giants at 3B although he was normally an outfielder and his fielding skills by then were hardly the best. In spite of that he made a tremendous leaping grab of a bullet shot foul just outside the baseline, one of those efforts that get etched into your memory, certainly the outstanding fielding play in the few big league games I’ve managed to see in person.

  7. 12
    Insert Name Here says:

    I wonder if you may have stumbled across this team when “scouring the Internet”? (It appears on the 3rd page of Google results.)

    http://www.sporcle.com/games/redsoxfan34/all-time-milwaukee-brewers-2nd-edition

    It’s part of a series of all-time teams quizzes I have made over at Sporcle, under the guises “redsoxfan34” and “redsoxfan24”, and using a methodology outlined in each quiz’s first comment (it’s too long to post here or above the actual quiz). Unlike yours, I used a DH and a full bullpen, but some selections are quite similar.

  8. 18
    Phil says:

    I probably made the same point on the Brewers Mount Rushmore thread: you must at least find a spot for Joe Schultz. Not manager, Harvey can have that, but something where he’s around, available, and keeping everybody loose. Maybe Assistant to the Traveling Secretary, George Costanza’s job on Seinfeld. That episode where George strolls into the clubhouse and gives Danny Tartabull some unsolicited advice on hitting–that’s a Joe Schultz job.

  9. 19
    bstar says:

    Don’t get me wrong, Sixto Lezcano was pretty darn good for a few years, but I thought certainly there would be at least a few names competing for the top right fielder in Brewers history. There really aren’t. In fact, that position has been a veritable black hole for Milwaukee.

    I can find only 3 players with over 10 career WAR in right field for the Crew, including Lezcano, Corey Hart, and Jeromy Burnitz. Go down to 4+ career WAR and only one more name appears: Rob Deer. That’s it. Hart should pass Lezcano for career WAR in a year or two, but his rate stats will likely never match Lezcano’s.

    • 34
      brp says:

      Hart won’t be accumulating that WAR as a RF, most likely, unless there’s injury and/or Braun gets suspended.

  10. 20
    John Autin says:

    I looked up the top WPA games in Brewers history. Numbers 1-11 each came from a different guy. All are familiar figures except for #10:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MIL/MIL197006230.shtml

    June 23, 1970, 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th, Milwaukee down a run with 2 men on. Utility infielder Gus Gil stepped in to pinch-hit against Ron Perranoski (saves leader in 1969 and ’70), who had just entered. Gil was so far a .186 career hitter (66 for 355) with neither home run nor triple. The Brewers were 21-44, dead last in the AL West, and playing the 1st-place Twins (40-21).

    Gil pulled a double into left, and Tommy Harper raced home from 1st with the winning run. It was the first 2-out, come-from-behind, game-winning hit in franchise history, and four years would pass before the next one.

  11. 23
    John Autin says:

    The top WPA game by a Brewers hitter (1.027):
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MIL/MIL198405030.shtml

    May 3, 1984: Mark Brouhard had stroked a go-ahead HR in the 7th off Bud Black, but Daryl Motley tied it the next inning with a shot off Don Sutton. Top of the 10th, Pete Ladd’s 3rd and 4th walks of the inning forced in 2 runs for KC.

    In the home half, facing Quisenberry, the Crew got one run back and men on 3rd and 2nd. Jim Sundberg bounced back to Quis for the 2nd out, and they intentionally walked Yount. Brouhard singled, and the tying & winning runs scored.

    Since 1985, there have been 29 batter-games with WPA of 1 or higher (includine one by Molitor) — but none came either for or against the Brewers.

    P.S. That was the only game-ending RBI of Brouhard’s career.

  12. 24
    birtelcom says:

    The Braves were in Milwaukee for just 13 seasons, compared to 43 (and counting) Brewers seasons, but an All-Milwaukee team would have a number of Braves representatives on it. Del Crandall or Joe Torre would likely knock Porter out of the starting catcher spot. Joe Adcock would give Cecil Cooper a run for his money in a starting first base battle. I’d move Molitor to second base, where he played 400 games for the Brewers, to make room for Eddie Mathews (more WAR playing for Milwaukee teams than anyone else) at third base. You might gain wins putting Johnny Logan at short and moving Yount to center in place of Gorman Thomas. Even Sixto Lezcano’s mother would probably acknowledge that Hank Aaron nudges her baby out of the right field starting spot. Left field was not a strong spot for the Milwaukee Braves, and they have no one close to threatening Ryan Braun’s spot, with or without PEDs.

    In the rotation, Warren Spahn, despite being already 32 years old when the Braves began play in Milwaukee, goes directly to the top of the All-Milwaukee rotation. Lew Burdette and Bob Buhl probably also belong somewhere in All-Milwaukee five-man rotation, but there is surely room there as well for Higuera plus one more Brewer (pick ’em) as the fifth starter. Don McMahon was the relief specialist for the best Milwaukee Braves teams and he had some fine seasons, but the pen was not as heavily emphasized in the 1950s and early 60s, so you probably still look mostly to the Brewers to fill the relief staff.

    • 31

      This would be a really interesting discussion, although I think you’re overrating Burdette and Buhl a bit. Take a look at their stats covering their time in Milwaukee…Burdette has negative WAA (when you throw out the two Boston years). Buhl would probably be good enough to compete with Bosio for the #4 slot, but to me, Spahn, Higuera and Sheets would be clearly the top three. Unless we’re both missing someone else obvious.

  13. 25
    Jeff says:

    I haven’t researched this but I find it hard to believe that Bill Wegman makes the all-time starting rotation. Are you kidding me? How could they be that bad for over 40 years? Even Chris Bosio made the rotation and he wasn’t anywhere near great. He was quite inconsistent but I guess he was marginally better than Wegman.

    Too bad about Teddy Higuera’s career though. At one time I really thought he would be a Hall of Famer. He was good. How good? John Tudor good, that’s how good.

    • 26
      birtelcom says:

      Higuera produced, according to b-ref, 22.3 WAR over his second through his fourth seasons in the majors. That’s the highest total for a major league pitcher over his second through fourth seasons since 1901, just ahead of Christy Mathewson. Since 1920, the next highest numbers on that list after Higuera have been by Clemens, Blyleven, Gooden, Dean and Seaver.

    • 29
      John Autin says:

      The key phrase being, “I haven’t researched this….” 🙂

      Wegman is #6 in career wins for the franchise, but his 102 ERA+ is better than that of wins leader Jim Slaton and #4 Moose Haas.

      Wegman is #4 in career WAR. No really big years, but three years of 4+ WAR, which are nos. 15, 17, and 21 on their season list.

      BTW, the Brewers are not the only franchise with modest SP leaders. San Diego (same age) also has just 2 SPs with 20+ career WAR (Jake Peavy 23.2, Andy Ashby 21.6), each with less WAR than the corresponding Brewers leader. Their career wins leader, Eric Show, has exactly 100; the Brewers have 2 with more than that.

      • 30

        Yeah, I was gonna say there really wasn’t much to choose from.

        If you were picking an all-time Brewers team off the top of your head (i.e. w/o looking at any stats), I bet most people would have Higuera and Caldwell as the top two starters, or maybe Sheets, but I bet Caldwell would be #3 at worst on most people’s lists.

        Caldwell’s ERA+ is 103…a little above average. He really only had one great and one good season, although his 1978 is really memorable to me because I think he beat Ron Guidry twice in Guidry’s 25-3 season. I’ll have to double check that factoid.

        Point is, you could argue Slaton or Haas or Gallardo, or even Cal Eldred or Lary Sorenson, over Wegman…but that ain’t an impressive list of names either. Except maybe Gallardo, but he still needs to add to his body of work at this point.

        • 32
          Chuck says:

          “although his 1978 is really memorable to me because I think he beat Ron Guidry twice in Guidry’s 25-3”

          Once.

          • 33

            Yeah, I misremembered. Maybe it was that Caldwell handed Guidry his first loss that made it memorable, or I was thinking of him and Mike Flanagan as one person. 🙂

        • 37
          Chuck says:

          It’s one of the great trivia questions.

          The three pitchers who beat Guidry in 1978 had three things in common.

          1)They all pitched for AL East teams…Milwaukee, Toronto, Baltimore.

          2)They all had the first name Mike…Caldwell, Willis, Flanagan.

          3) And, like Guidry, were all lefthanded.

      • 38
        Lawrence Azrin says:

        …And no one has yet mentioned Pete Vuckovich, who won the 1982 CYA with the Brewers.

        Problem is, his 1982 may be the _very worst_ CYA season ever. I don’t know what standard to use (WAR? ERA+), but his WAR was 2.5, his ERA+ 114, only 18 W and only 105 SO… I didn’t do a B-R P-I search, but I looked up a bunch of CYA winners, and everyone else (not a reliever) had a WAR of at least 3.5.

        Hold on, Bob Welch’s 27-6 1990 season gets only a 2.7 WAR.

        • 42
          Voomo Zanzibar says:

          Welch’s 27 win season was his 8th best year, in terms of WAR.

          Odd.
          Just scanning his game logs, he had maybe one cheap win.
          He went deep into games and gave QS most of the time. What’s the beef?

          http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=welchbo01&t=p&year=1990

        • 52
          Doug says:

          Lawrence, those 1982 Brewers must have among the worst (if not THE worst) starting staffs for any pennant winner. After Vuckovich, their other four starters had ERA+ scores of 97, 90, 85 and 77. To add to their woes, Doc Medich contributed 10 starts and a 76 ERA+.

          Aside from the work of Fingers and Jim Slaton in the bullpen, their saving grace may have been the September acquisition of Don Sutton, who went 4-1 in 7 starts including 2 CG, one a shutout. All but the first were quality starts, which the first would have been as well save for a 9th inning 3-run HR allowed to the Indians’ Von Hayes (a very young Von Hayes).

          • 53
            topper009 says:

            But Mike Caldwell, 1 of 3 20 game winners in Crew History, threw a 3 hit shutout in game 1. There have only been 2 such efforts since, Orel Hershiser game 2 1988 and Randy Johnson game 2 2001.

            Trivia, who threw shutouts in World Series game 7s?
            1991 –
            1985 –
            1965 –
            1962 –
            1957 –
            1956 –
            1955 –
            (3 in a row!)
            1934 –
            1920 –
            1909 –

          • 55
            Doug says:

            Podres in 55.
            Morris in 91.

          • 58
            Lawrence Azrin says:

            1909 -Babe Adams
            1934 – Dizzy Dean
            1965 – Sandy Koufax
            1985 – Brett Saberhagen

          • 60
            topper009 says:

            Looks good so far. The ’62 and ’57 pitchers were the seies MVPs, but man Im not sure Ive even ever heard of the 1956 guy

          • 61
            Doug says:

            I’m going to guess Spahn in 57 and Whitey in 62.

          • 62
            Doug says:

            Just looked. Wrong on both counts for ’57 and ’62.

          • 65
            Doug says:

            Looked up 1956. I had heard of him but that’s all. ’56 was his one nice year, and at age 22. A bit surprising he didn’t seem to improve after that.

          • 67
            Richard Chester says:

            Reply to #65:
            Johnny Kucks was involved in the famous Copacabana brawl in NY in 1957. Several Yankees were there celebrating Billy Martin’s 29th birthday when a fight broke between them and a drunk who was heckling Sammy Davis Jr. Ford, Bauer, Mantle and Berra also attended. After that Martin’s days with the Yankees were numbered, being shipped off to the A’s a few weeks later.

          • 69
            John Autin says:

            Two things about Johnny Kucks (topper’s 1956 mystery man):

            1) Kucks is the only pitcher with a WS shutout and negative career WAR.

            2) He’s the only one on that game-7 shutout list who relieved in the same Series (Kucks appeared in games 1 & 2), also the only one with no other starts in the same Series. So he’s also the only one with no other WS starts in his career.

          • 70
            GrandyMan says:

            Without looking, I’ll take Lew Burdette in ’57 and Ralph Terry in ’62.

          • 71
            bstar says:

            @67 Word has it that Barry Manilow was involved in that brawl also.

          • 74
            no statistician but says:

            Kind of late as usual, but just a note on Johnny Kucks: In his first five years he won eight games four times and eighteen once. Wonder what his lucky number was.

          • 75
            topper009 says:

            Burdette and Terry are correct. The last one is HOFer Stan Coveleski in 1920 (although that was not a decisive game 7 because in was a best of 9 WS)

            Back to 1957, game 1 and 4 starter Warren Spahn was ready to go for game 7 but game 2 and 5 starter Lew Burdette was an option. Spahn was 1-1 in the series, 8 runs allowed in 15.1 IP. Burdette was 2-0, with 2 runs allowed in 18 IP.

            Spahn put up 4.4 WAR in 271 IP and led the league in wins in 1957. Burdette put up 0.9 WAR in 256 IP. So the clear SABR (no sample size is ever big enough) start would go to Spahn, the guy with the more proven track record and more rest. Instead, Fred Haney went with Burdette who was the hotter hand and he threw a shutout.

            This kind of decision would never be made today, all managers/coaches always make the most conservative/safe choice so they cant be blamed if something goes wrong because “that’s what anyone would have done” and the they don’t have to deal with the media second guessing. Look at what happened to the by-far-no-one-in-his-league best coach in the NFL, Bill Belichick, when he went for a 4th and 2 on his own 30.

            So no would have blamed Haney if the Braves lost the WS behind Spahn, but he doesn’t seem to get the credit he deserves for actually managing his team based on the changing circumstances.

          • 76
            Doug says:

            For non-intuitive choices for starting pitcher, no manager will ever top Connie Mack in 1929.

            Lefty Grove, who won 20 and started 37 times during the season, was left on the bench for the series. Probably this was because Grove hadn’t pitched a complete game in over a month and had logged just 20 innings and had a 7.65 ERA over his last 5 starts. Still, conventional choice would be to stick with your ace who would be “due for a turnaround”.

            Instead, Mack went with Howard Ehmke (only 8 starts on the season) in game 1 and also the clinching game 5. Mack also started 46 year-old Jack Quinn in game 4, who had started the season in the rotation but had been used only as a spot starter in the second half.

            Mack’s one conventional choice of 24-game winner George Earnshaw was also a bit odd in that Earnshaw started, with one day’s rest, both games 2 and 3. No dounbt this was because he went just 4.2 IP (but got the win???) in game 2. Overuse notwithstanding, Earnshaw pitched well in game 3, going the distance but losing 3-1 on two unearned runs allowed.

  14. 27
    PP says:

    Speaking of the ’69 Pilots, no mention yet of Bouton and Schultzie and pounding Buds and shooting large, semi-aquatic creatures? I had to do it…

  15. 35
    John Autin says:

    Since 1969, here are the number of pitchers for each franchise who amassed 20+ WAR, and the top 2 WAR totals. (All rounded to the nearest whole number, so the “20 WAR” count is really 19.5 WAR.)

    Team …20+ … #1 … #2
    KCR … 9 … 45 … 39
    LAD … 8 … 39 … 37
    BOS … 8 … 78 … 52
    LAA … 7 … 49 … 38
    CHC … 7 … 46 … 36
    NYY … 7 … 53* … 46
    HOU … 6 … 44 … 24
    TOR … 6 … 54 … 46
    NYM … 6 … 60 … 39
    ATL … 5 … 77 … 64
    CLE … 5 … 27 … 26
    MIN … 5 … 46 … 43
    SFG … 4 … 29 … 27
    DET … 4 … 35 … 34
    OAK … 3 … 29 … 29
    ARI … 3 … 51 … 32
    SEA … 3 … 37 … 32
    WSN … 2 … 42 … 28
    SDP … 3 … 25* … 23
    PHI … 3 … 61 … 35
    PIT … 2 … 30 … 20
    TEX … 3 … 30 … 29
    CHW … 3 … 46 … 20
    MIL … 2 … 29 … 24
    STL … 2 … 25 … 26
    BAL … 2 … 61 … 45
    CIN … 2 … 35 … 25
    FLA … 1 … 24 … 16
    TBR … 0 … 17 … 15
    COL … 0 … 18 … 15

    * Denotes a reliever.

    I think the Orioles are the biggest surprise — only Palmer & Mussina reached 20 WAR.

    • 36
      GrandyMan says:

      How did you do this search? Mine returns fewer results for some teams — 7 for the Royals instead of 9, 7 for the Dodgers instead of 8, etc, etc.

      I just used a simple “Teams with Players Matching Career Criteria” search.

    • 40
      Lawrence Azrin says:

      If you go back to 1965, Dave McNally clears 20 WAR for the Orioles. Still, somewhat surprising – Mike Cuellar only had 15.0 WAR for the Orioles, and that’s from 1969 to 1976; 143 wins and a 3.20 ERA. Besides Palmer/Mussina, the Orioles had a bunch of guys who were consitently good, but rarely great.

      Incidentally, McNally and Cuellar are each others Most Similar.

    • 41
      GrandyMan says:

      Most teams seem to have a pretty even, or at least predictable, pattern of success. However, it never occurred to me that the Royals had so many consistently good arms in their heyday – they had at least 3 20 WAR pitchers in every season from 1979-96, 4 every year from 1984-91, and even 5 during most of the second half of the ’80s. They would’ve had 6 in ’84 if not for Dennis Leonard’s injury.

      Also, I was surprised to see that Oakland had only three such pitchers (and only one before 1999), and that the Cardinals only had two, with a 29-year gap between Gibson and Carpenter.

      Perhaps the biggest individual oddity on this list is Jim Clancy. He had a solid 22.6 WAR with the Jays over 12 seasons. Then, upon leaving, he had a meltdown of John Lackey proportions…actually, far worse, accumulating -4.4 WAR over about 300 innings and three seasons to finish with 18.2, the lowest career WAR total for any pitcher with 20 WAR for one team since 1969.

  16. 44
    topper009 says:

    O my god I just spent an hour on a post and I was told it looked a littel spammy and deleted it.

    • 46
      topper009 says:

      Highlights
      -Brewers have always sucked except for a brief very good peak. They are the only AL team to have the MVP and CY Young winner for back to back seasons (81-82) Can you name the only other instance of this?
      -As late as 1990 Robin Yount was the highest paid player in the league, so you can say they werent always trying

      -You can name Darrell Porter to any Milwaukee team since he won the 82 suds series MVP againstthe Brewers

      -As bad as the Brewers have been historically, they have only had one number 1 pick, which they used in 1985 on BJ Surhoff Over Barry Larking, Rafi Palmeiro and…Barry Bonds

      -If you are looking at all-time Milwaukee teams, dont forget player/manager of the 1901 Milwaukee Brewers, Hugh Duffy (owner of the highest all-time single season batting avrage)

      All-time Wisconsin born team
      C: Damian Miller
      1B: Ed Konetchy
      2B: Mark Grudzielanek
      3B: Ken Keltner
      SS: Harvey Kuenn
      OF: Al Simmons
      OF: Andy Pafko
      OF: Happy Felsh

      SP: Kid Nichols
      SP: Addie Joss
      SP: Burleigh Grimes
      SP: Brad Radke
      SP: Jarrod Washburn

      CL: Ryne Dorian

      C: Billy Sullivan
      IF: Lave Cross
      IF: Tony Kubek
      IF: Jim Gantner
      OF: Ginger Beaumont
      OF: Abner Dalrymple (just for the name)

      RP: Bob Wicman
      RP: Johnny Schmitz
      RP: Billy Hoeft
      RP: Dave Koslo

      MGR: Pants Rowland

  17. 50
    Tmckelv says:

    “Money was only a regular second baseman for one year with the Brewers”

    He made the most of that time…

    http://www.comc.com/Cards/Baseball/1979/Topps/265/Don_Money/1867266/REVIEWED/COMC/G-VG-EX

  18. 63
    topper009 says:

    Cleveland seems to get the sports tough luck wrap, but man Seattle:

    Pilots, Mariners: 37 seasons, 0 pennants
    Seahawks: 37 seasons, 1 “pennant”, 0 Titles
    Sonics: 41 seasons, 3 “pennants” 1 Title (1979)

    UWash Huskies FB: 7-4-1 in the Rose Bowl
    Wash St. Melancamps: 0-3 Rose Bowl
    UWash Huskies BB: 1 “final four” in 1953
    Washington St BB: 1 “final four”, lost 1941 National Title game to Wisconsin
    Gonzaga Bulldogs BB: 0 final fours

    No wonder Frasier Crane wasn’t into sports very much

    • 66
      Doug says:

      Seattle University (only 7,000+ students in 2012) also went to the 1958 Final Four and beat the #1 seed Kansas State in the semi-final before losing the final to Kentucky. Apparently, that team also beat the Harlem Globetrotters.

      • 72
        Voomo Zanzibar says:

        Here is the very matter-of-fact report on the CalTech website of their baseball team snapping a 228 game losing streak:

        http://gocaltech.com/sports/bsb/2012-13/releases/20130202nbsm7q

        • 79
          John Autin says:

          Great link, Voomo! My favorite lines from the report on Caltech’s historic win:

          “However, a determined Beavers squad responded.”
          — Who ever saw a squad of beavers that was anything but determined?

          “Daniel Chou threw a complete game in grabbing the win in his first collegiate start.”
          — His first start! Pitching for a team that hasn’t won in almost 10 years, he allows a 7-run inning *and* goes 0-for-4 from the leadoff spot — and he gets the win!

          Life is beautiful.

  19. 64
    topper009 says:

    The 2 first baseman on this team were traded for each other, Cooper for Boomer (plus Bernie Carbo, who held the distinction of hitting the most famous HR in Red Sox history… for all of 4 innings)

  20. 78
    Shping says:

    Porter disqualified: oh, and i think you meant to say that Darrel should NOT be eligible for any Brewers all-time team, because as you mentioned and as any Brewers fan from the 80s knows, Porter became the enemy after his Cardinal heroics in ’82 series.

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