Milwaukee Brewers all-time team: Yelich and Braun team up with Yount, Fielder and more


In an effort to avoid going stir crazy with MLB and every other major sports league shut down during the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve decided to take a look at the best of the best for each baseball franchise. We’ve created a 30-day series making an all-time team for each MLB club. We’re breaking down one team each day throughout April, continuing today in Milwaukee.

As a (hopefully?) fun twist, I’m making a Baseball Stars team for each. That’s right, the old-school Nintendo video game “Baseball Stars,” which I still consider to be the best baseball video game ever. It allowed you to create teams and I used to make all-time lineups for prominent MLB franchises. There are the eight position players with four starting pitchers, one reliever and five bench position players on each Baseball Stars squads. 

Up next are the Milwaukee Brewers (and one year of the Seattle Pilots!). To the lineup.

Catcher

Late career Ted Simmons had a decent run, but his great offensive years were mostly behind him. Remember prime Jonathan Lucroy? He fell apart fast, but he actually has the four highest WAR seasons among Brewers catchers. He hit .284/.342/.436 (110 OPS+) in parts of seven seasons for the Brewers. Let’s give a shout to Darrell Porter as well, but Lucroy is the pick. 

First base

With all due respect to George Scott, Richie Sexson, John Jaha(!) and some others, I’m immediately narrowing this down to two guys. It’s Cecil Cooper or Prince Fielder. Brewers career only side-by-side coming. 

Cooper: .302/.339/.470, 123 OPS+, 3.1 WAR/650PA, 201 HR, 944 RBI in 11 years
Fielder: .282/.390/.540, 143 OPS+, 2.6 WAR/650PA, 230 HR, 656 RBI in 7 years

I like Fielder due to the gaps in OBP and SLG. It’s rough leaving Cooper off for sure, but Prince had the higher ceiling at the plate. 

Second base

Might Keston Hiura take the mantle someday? The ball explodes off his bat. It’s premature to seriously discuss here, though. This boils down to Rickie Weeks and Jim Gantner. It’s a really tough call. Gantner is eighth in position player WAR in Brewers history. Much of that value, however, was defensive. Unless it’s an all-time great (think Ozzie Smith), I’m gonna pick the better offensive player for a video game. Gantner hit .274/.319/.351 and we call that an empty batting average. He only had one season out of 17 with an above average OPS. Weeks had four seasons above 120 OPS+ with the Brewers. 

Shortstop

Hmmm … J.J. Hardy or Jean Segura? 

I’m kidding, obviously. Robin Yount

Third base

They’ve had a few good ones. Jeff Cirillo and Don Money were good ones. Aramis Ramirez had a little left in the tank by the time he arrived. Same with Mike Moustakas. Can we ignore 2019 on Travis Shaw? 

But it’s another easy one with a Hall of Famer and franchise legend in Paul Molitor

Left field

It’s loaded out here. We’ve got Greg Vaughn, Geoff Jenkins and Ben Oglivie out here, but Ryan Braun sits third in career Brewers WAR behind Yount and Molitor. 

Center field

Tough one out here. Mike Cameron, Carlos Gomez, Lorenzo Cain and Gorman Thomas. 

What do we want out here? Cain is a brilliant defender and baserunner, though he really only had the one good full year in 2018. He took a big step back last season. Gomez was such a fun player who could hit for power and rack up the steals, but he was inconsistent and his window of being good was also short. I’d put Cameron behind him so Mike is out. 

Then there’s Stormin’ Gorman. It’s hard to believe the hulking figure was a center fielder but he was. He ran some but not a ton and is the worst defender on here easily. He also averaged 36 homers a season, twice leading the league, from 1978-82 and that’s with the shortened 1981 season (he hit 21 in 103 games).  

Gorman is my man out here. 

Right field

Only two years, yes, but he has the two highest Brewers right field WAR seasons ever: Christian Yelich. Pre-Yelich, it looks like it would’ve been Jeromy Burnitz, Corey Hart or Sixto Lezcano, but none of them come close to the best version of Yelich and he ain’t going anywhere now

Starting pitchers

Remember how good Ben Sheets was in his prime? From 2004-08, Sheets had a 3.24 ERA (134 ERA+). His 2004 season was ridiculous. He had 264 strikeouts against 31 unintentional walks in 237 innings with a 2.70 ERA (162 ERA+). He’s a pick. 

Probably the most famous pitcher in Brewers history is also the leader in WAR among Brewers pitchers. It’s Teddy Higuera. The Cy Young runner up in 1986 finished sixth in voting the following season. 

Mike Caldwell was the Game 1 starter in the ALCS on the Brewers’ lone pennant-winning team, so that leads me to believe he was viewed as the ace. He’s fifth in WAR and his 1978 season was one of the best in Brewers history. We’ll take him, too. 

Lots of names left in the mix for the final spot. Chris Bosio, Bill Wegman, Moose Haas, Jim Slaton, Yovani Gallardo. I’ve got to mention CC Sabathia’s ridiculous half season with the club, too. That was other-worldly. It’s a very tough pick, but I’m going Gallardo. He’s the franchise leader in strikeouts, strikeout rate and scores well in rate stats. 

Reliever

Rollie Fingers fell apart in his last season in Milwaukee, but his first three included a 1.86 ERA (199 ERA+), a 0.99 WHIP, a Cy Young, an MVP and a pennant. With apologies to Dan Plesac (the franchise leader in saves, ERA and ERA+), John Axford, Josh Hader and all the rest of the stellar relievers they’ve had, we gotta go with the Hall of Famer. 

The Lineup

Baseball Stars uses six characters for each name. What follows is the Baseball Stars lineup. 

  1. Paul M, 3B
  2. Yount, SS
  3. Yelich, RF
  4. Braun, LF
  5. Prince, 1B
  6. Gorman, CF
  7. Lucroy, C
  8. Weeks, 2B

SP: Teddy, Sheets, Mike, Yovani
RP: Rollie

Man, look at that lineup, pretty good given how relatively young and unsuccessful the franchise was for so long. That is some serious power and don’t sleep on the stolen base prowess from the top four. Molitor, Yount and Braun are top three in the franchise in steals and Yelich stole 30 last year. It’s one of the main reasons I left Braun above Fielder and Thomas. Just keep running in front of that power. 

Anyway, I need a bench. We’ll go Ted (Simmons), Cecil (Cooper), Ben (Oglivie), GoGo (Carlos Gomez) and LoCain. 





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