The Best of the Career Brewers: A Few Legends and a lot of Filler
With Ryan Braun about to attain enough Major League service time to gain full no-trade rights, the chances that he will spend his entire career with the Brewers have never been better. Although there is still plenty of time for Braun to consent to a trade or change clubs via free agency, he has a decent chance to join the very select company of Major Leaguers who appeared as – and only as – members of the Brewers. Robin Yount, who spent every day of his 20-year career with the Brewers, is by far the most accomplished of these players. But in the spirit Brewers’ exclusivity, let’s take a look at what an all-time only-Brewers team might look like.
Catcher: Dave Nilsson (With Brewers 1992-1999)
Nilsson saved his best season for his last, making the AL All-Star team in 1999 and setting career highs in homers and slugging percentage. His 105 career homers are second only to Yount among career Brewers (active players excluded) and his 837 games played are behind only Yount and Jim Gantner.
As far as career Brewers first basemen go, big Joey Meyer was as good as they got.
First Base: Joey Meyer (1988-1989)
Yes, this is how slim the pickings are in this group. The burly native Hawaiian crushed the ball in the minors, including a half-season with the Denver Zephyrs in which he hit 29 homers, but couldn’t deliver in the majors. He was a moderate power threat for two years before he drifted back to the bush leagues.
Second Base: Jim Gantner (1975-1992)
“Gumby” played 17 years with the Brewers as a steady-gloved second baseman. Never much with the bat, Gantner once went 1,762 at bats without a homer.
From top prospect to all-time bust, Mat Gamel put up numbers that no other career Brewers third basemen can match.
Third Base: Mat Gamel (2008-2012)
A hotshot third base prospect before becoming an oft-injured first baseman, Gamel managed only one season of more than 70 at bats and tallied only 240 for his career. Still, with six career homers and a .229 career average, he is the best career Brewers third sacker ever.
Shortstop: Robin Yount (1974-1993)
This one really needs no explanation. But for the record, according to Wins Above Replacement (WAR), Yount actually provided more value to the Brewers than every other career Brewer combined.
Outfield: Marshall Edwards (1981-1983)
A role player on the Brewers first two playoff team, Edwards was a glove and speed guy, but never developed as a hitter. He was also surprisingly tough to strike out, whiffing just 19 times in 310 career at bats.
Outfield: Dan Thomas (1976-1977)
A top prospect who struggled with mental issues, Thomas posted an impressive slash line of .274/.363/.457 over 54 career games. Thomas refused to play on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons because of his religious convictions and later accused the Brewers of persecuting him for his beliefs. Less than three years after his final Major League game, he was arrested for the sexual assault of a child. He committed suicide in his jail cell.
Outfield: Mark Brouhard (1980-1985)
Another playoff veteran, Brouhard was an average hitter with an average glove and had the kind of career that is very easy to forget. Still, if this were a real team, he would probably get about 600 at bats per season.
Bill Wegman was a steady right hander for the Brewers for over a decade.
Right Handed Pitcher: Bill Wegman (1985-1995)
In the ‘better-than-you-remember’ category is Bill Wegman, who had the most career innings of any career-Brewer hurler. Wegman was one of the better pitchers in the AL in 1991, posting a 2.84 ERA and finishing with a 15-7 record.
Left Hander Pitcher: Ted Higuera (1985-1994)
The best lefty in team history, Higuera remains overlooked as a franchise icon. He was one of the best pitchers in baseball in the late 1980s before injuries derailed his career just in time for a hefty contract extension to kick in. Higuera attempted a comeback with the Padres in 1995, but failed to make the team.
Relief Pitcher: Jim Austin (1991-1993)
Over 100 career innings, all in relief, “Bubba” posted an impressive 3.06 ERA. He was a major part of the bullpen for the 90-win 1992 club, but an injury in 1993 derailed his career. He never pitched in the majors again.