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All-Time Team – Milwaukee Brewers
First Base – Cecil Cooper
I could easily have gone with Prince Fielder here since he has posted some extremely impressive power numbers during his relatively brief time in Milwaukee. But Cecil Cooper was a more complete player than the ponderous Fielder, who struggles both in the field and on the base paths. The underrated Cooper also compiled outstanding offensive numbers over a longer period of time with the Brewers, making him the most logical choice for the starting job at first base. Cooper hit 201 home runs for Milwaukee from 1977 to 1987, while also knocking in 944 runs, scoring 821 others, accumulating 1,815 hits, and batting .302. He hit more than 20 homers five times, knocked in more than 100 runs four times, scored more than 100 runs twice, amassed more than 200 hits three times, and batted over .300 in seven straight seasons at one point. Cooper had his best year in 1980, when he hit 25 home runs, led the American League with 122 runs batted in, scored 96 times, collected 219 hits, and batted .352. He also had sensational seasons in 1982 and 1983, surpassing 30 homers, 120 RBIs, 100 runs scored, and 200 hits both years, while also batting over .300.
Second Base – Paul Molitor
Although he also saw a considerable amount of playing time at other positions while playing for the Brewers, Paul Molitor gets the nod here as the team’s all-time second baseman. Molitor spent a total of 15 years in Milwaukee, during which time he compiled 160 home runs, 790 runs batted in, 1,275 runs scored, 2,281 hits, and a .303 batting average. He batted over .300 eight times, compiling a mark in excess of .320 on four separate occasions. Molitor also scored more than 100 runs four times, collected more than 200 hits twice, and stole more than 40 bases four times. He had his two best years in 1987 and 1991, batting .353 in the first of those seasons, while also leading the league with 114 runs scored and 41 doubles. Molitor batted .325 in 1991, hit 17 home runs, and led the league with 133 runs scored, 216 hits, and 13 triples.
Third Base – Jeff Cirillo
This was a tough choice between Jeff Cirillo and Don Money. Cirillo started at third for the Brewers for only five seasons. During that time, though, he batted over .320 three times, compiled an on-base percentage in excess of .400 twice, knocked in more than 80 runs three times, and scored more than 95 runs three times. Cirillo had his two best years for the team in 1996 and 1999, batting .325, driving in 83 runs, and scoring 101 others in the first of those campaigns. He hit .326 in 1999, knocked in 88 runs, scored 98 others, and collected 198 hits. Money posted more modest numbers during his time in Milwaukee, never batting any higher than .293 or scoring more than 88 runs in any single season. But he spent 11 years in Milwaukee, serving as the team’s starting third baseman for a period of six years. He performed well for the Brewers during that time, having his best year in 1977, when he hit 25 home runs, knocked in 83 runs, scored 86 others, and batted .279. Money’s greater longevity with the team enabled him to compile superior totals to Cirillo in most offensive categories. Nevertheless, the feeling here was that Cirillo deserved the starting spot. He simply was a better player than Money.
Shortstop – Robin Yount
No question about this pick here. Although Robin Yount spent the second half of his career playing the outfield, he was undoubtedly the best shortstop in team history. Over the course of 20 years in a Milwaukee uniform, Yount hit 251 home runs, knocked in 1,406 runs, scored 1,632 others, and accumulated 3,142 hits – all franchise records. He also won two Most Valuable Player Awards, becoming in the process the first player to capture the honor as both a shortstop and as a center fielder.
Left Field – Ryan Braun
Ryan Braun has been a member of the Brewers for only four years. Nevertheless, he has already established himself as the best left fielder in franchise history. Braun has hit more than 30 home runs, driven in more than 100 runs, and batted over .300 three times each, earning in the process three All-Star selections, three Silver Sluggers, and one top-five finish in the league MVP voting. He had his best year in 2009, when he hit 32 homers, knocked in 114 runs, scored 113 others, batted .320, and topped the senior circuit with 203 hits.
Center Field – Gorman Thomas
Gorman Thomas got the nod for the starting center field job. Stormin’ Gorman spent parts of 11 seasons in Milwaukee, during which time he served as the team’s starting center fielder for five years. Over the course of those five seasons, Thomas surpassed 30 homers four times, 100 runs batted in three times, and 90 runs scored twice. He led the American League in home runs twice, having his best year in 1979, when he topped the circuit with 45 homers, while also driving in 123 runs and scoring 97 others.
Right Field – Ben Oglivie
Although he played mostly left field for the Brewers, Ben Oglivie also saw some action in right during his nine years in Milwaukee. He’ll start in right field for this team as well. The left-handed hitting slugger hit a total of 176 home runs for the Brewers, reaching the 30-homer plateau on two separate occasions. He had his best year in 1980, when he tied Reggie Jackson for the American League lead with 41 home runs. Oglivie also knocked in 118 runs, scored 94 others, and batted .304. He earned All-Star honors three times as a member of the Brewers.
Catcher - B.J. Surhoff
Although he later went on to play first base, third base, and the outfield throughout most of his major league career, B.J. Surhoff spent six of his nine years with the Brewers serving as the team’s starting catcher. Over the course of those nine seasons, Surhoff batted over .280 three times, compiling a career-high .320 batting average in 1995. He also finished in double-digits in stolen bases six times. Charlie Moore will serve as Surhoff’s back-up behind home plate.
Designated Hitter - Prince Fielder
Denied the starting assignment at first base due to the presence of Cecil Cooper, Prince Fielder seemed like the logical choice to serve as the team’s designated hitter. Fielder has hit more than 30 home runs in four of his five full seasons with the Brewers, hitting a franchise-record 50 homers in 2007. He has also driven in more than 100 runs three times, scored more than 100 runs twice, and compiled an on-base percentage in excess of .400 on two separate occasions. Fielder has earned All-Star honors and a top-five finish in the league MVP voting two times each.
Starting Pitcher – Mike Caldwell
Mike Caldwell spent only seven full seasons in Milwaukee. During that time, though, he managed to compile the greatest single season of any starting pitcher in team history. Despite being overshadowed all season long by Yankee ace Ron Guidry, Caldwell finished the 1978 campaign with a record of 22-9, an ERA of 2.36, and a league-leading 23 complete games, en route to earning a second-place finish in the Cy Young voting. Although the left-hander never again experienced that kind of success, he won 16 games for the Brewers the following year, and another 17 in 1982, ending his time in Milwaukee with an overall record of 102-80, along with an ERA of 3.74.
Starting Pitcher – Teddy Higuera
An injury to his throwing shoulder prevented Teddy Higuera from having the kind of career the Brewers initially envisioned for him. Nevertheless, the talented left-hander established himself during his relatively brief time in Milwaukee as arguably the finest starting pitcher in team history. Higuera surpassed 15 victories in each of his first four seasons, en route to compiling an overall mark of 94-64 for the Brewers. He had his best year in 1986, when he finished 20-11, with a 2.79 ERA, 207 strikeouts and 15 complete games. He placed second to Roger Clemens in the Cy Young balloting that year. Higuera followed that up by going 18-10 in 1987, with 240 strikeouts and 14 complete games. He had another outstanding year in 1988, when he went 16-9, with a 2.45 ERA and 192 strikeouts.
Starting Pitcher – Ben Sheets
Injuries also prevented Ben Sheets from realizing his full potential during his time in Milwaukee. Still, the right-hander won more than 10 games in seven out of his eight years with the Brewers, having his best season in 2008, when he finished 13-9, with a 3.09 ERA and a league-leading three shutouts. Sheets appeared in four All-Star Games as a member of the Brewers.
Starting Pitcher – Pete Vukovich
A solid starter for the Brewers during the early 1980s, Pete Vukovich compiled an overall record of 40-26 in his five years in Milwaukee. He had his two best years in 1981 and 1982, leading all A.L. starters with a record of 14-4 during the strike-shortened ’81 campaign. The right-hander followed that up by compiling a record of 18-6 for the 1982 American League champions, along with a 3.34 ERA.
Starting Pitcher – Bill Travers
Pitching mostly for mediocre Milwaukee teams during the 1970s, Bill Travers posted an overall record of 65-67 during his seven-year stint with the club. The left-hander had arguably his best year in 1976, even though he finished the campaign with a losing mark of 15-16. Travers threw 15 complete games and compiled an outstanding 2.81 ERA that year. He pitched extremely well again in 1979, finishing the year with a record of 14-8
Closer – Rollie Fingers
Although he spent only four years in Milwaukee, Rollie Fingers clearly established himself during that time as the finest relief pitcher in team history. The right-hander became the first reliever to capture both Cy Young and MVP honors in 1981, when he posted a record of 6-3 and an ERA of 1.04, while leading the A.L. with 28 saves. Fingers followed that up with two more exceptional years, before Father Time finally caught up to him in 1985. He retired at the end of the year having saved a total of 97 games for the Brewers.
Manager – Harvey Kuenn
Harvey Kuenn managed the Brewers for only two seasons, during which time the team’s hard-hitting lineup became known as Harvey’s Wall-bangers. The Brewers posted an overall record of 160-118 under Kuenn, for an outstanding .576 winning percentage. They also won the only pennant in franchise history.
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