The Milwaukee Brewers franchise has been around for a significantly shorter amount of time than many franchises. Getting their start as the Seattle Pilots in 1969, the team moved to Milwaukee in 1970. They played in the American League until 1998, when they moved to the National League Central. Many great players have worn the Brewers jersey despite their relatively short history. As we continue our All-Time team tournament, we look at the Brewers’ all-time team.
Brewers All-Time Team
Catcher: Jonathan Lucroy (2010-2016)
While an argument can be made for B.J. Surhoff, Jonathan Lucroy makes the roster at catcher. During his time with the Brewers, he managed an OPS+ of 112 and amassed a WAR of 18.3. Surhoff was the better defender, but the offensive drop-off between the two is more significant, making Lucroy the clear choice.
First Base: Prince Fielder (2005-2011)
The battle between Cecil Cooper and Prince Fielder for this spot is arguably the most challenging choice on the roster. Cooper has the edge in many counting stats and accumulated more WAR, but he also had four more years to do so. Fielder’s significant lead in OPS and home runs gets the edge. Neither were good defenders.
Second Base: Rickie Weeks (2003-2014)
Second base is another challenging position for this Brewer team. Jim Gantner was a good defender with a serviceable bat for most of his seventeen seasons there. However, Rickie Weeks put up an OPS 100 points higher than Gantner. Weeks may have been an inferior fielder, but he managed to provide excellent offense during his time in Milwaukee.
Third Base: Paul Molitor (1978-1992)
The first-ballot Hall of Famer quickly plays third base for the Brewers’ all-time team. Some other fine options are available, but none come close to “The Ignitor.” Paul Molitor’s numbers with the Brewers are eye-popping. He’s second in a wide array of Brewers’ leaderboards, including WAR, runs, hits, and batting average. He’s also 10th all-time among all major leaguers with 3,319 hits. He is in the Top 50 among all position players in career WAR.
Shortstop: Robin Yount (1974-1993)
The most accessible selection on the roster, Robin Yount, takes the shortstop position. The two-time AL MVP spent his entire career with Milwaukee and leads the team in nearly every offensive counting stat. He has 3,142 hits, good for 20th all-time. Surprisingly, Yount only appeared in three all-star games. Yount was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1999, his first year on the ballot.
Left Field: Ryan Braun (2007-2020)
The left fielder for the Brewers is, of course, Ryan Braun. The former Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player spent his entire career with Milwaukee. He made six all-star appearances and won five Silver Sluggers. He trails only Yount and Molitor in WAR.
Center Field: Gorman Thomas (1973-1983, 1986)
Gorman Thomas gets the nod for centerfield thanks to his solid power numbers. He led the league twice in home runs and had a strong OPS from 1978 to 1982. His glove was subpar, but the power numbers carry him. If Sixto Lezcano had played more than 16 games in center field, he would have been the pick, but Thomas was a true centerfielder.
Right Field: Ben Oglivie (1978-1986)
The only controversy about putting Ben Oglivie in as the starting right fielder would be the number of games he played there. Predominately a left fielder, Oglivie shifts over to keep Braun in his regular position. Both Oglivie and Geoff Jenkins are in the Top 10 among position players for the Brewers, but Oglivie has the superior body of work.
Designated Hitter: Cecil Cooper (1977-1987)
Since Cooper didn’t get the nod at first base, it only makes sense to slot him in as the team’s designated hitter. He has the fourth-highest WAR as a Brewer. Cooper was an absolute force in the batter’s box. He finished in the Top 5 in MVP ballots on three separate occasions, making five all-star teams.
Starting Pitcher: Teddy Higuera (1985-1994)
It’s tempting to give the starting pitcher spot to Ben Sheets, who was a reasonably dominant starter for the Brewers for eight years. However, Teddy Higuera, a 20-game winner in 1986, gets the nod. Higuera had additional seasons where he racked up solid win totals and provided good value for the Brewers. He is the Brewers’ all-time leader in WAR among pitchers. He also managed 12 shutouts during his nine seasons in Milwaukee.
Bullpen: Ben Sheets (2001-2008), Dan Plesac (1986-1992), Rollie Fingers (1981-1985)
Sheets can slide into the bullpen for the team since he was narrowly passed over for the starting spot. Relievers Dan Plesac and Rollie Fingers round out the pitching staff. Plesac is the Brewers’ all-time leader in saves with 133. It’s challenging to leave Josh Hader off the team. It’s easy to see Hader passing Plesac and becoming the Brewers’ saves leader, assuming he remains healthy and doesn’t sign elsewhere in the coming years. However, Fingers won a Cy Young and an MVP in 1981 and was dominant in Milwaukee for four seasons there.
Manager: Craig Counsell (2015-Present)
Indeed, a case can be made for Harvey Kuenn. He led the 1982 team to their only World Series appearance. Dubbed “Harvey’s Wallbangers,” the team fell to the St. Louis Cardinals in a seven-game thriller. However, Kuenn only managed the team for parts of three seasons. Craig Counsell has managed the team to sustained success. The former major leaguer has done well in that role. Counsell finished second in Manager of the Year voting three times. The Brewers have made the playoffs in four years under his management.
Brewers All-time Team Honorable Mentions
Don Money (1973-1983), Jeff Cirillo (1994-1999, 2005-2006), Jim Gantner (1976-1992), Christian Yelich (2018-2021)
It’s tough to see Don Money squeezed out, but he was never going to take a spot from Molitor or Yount. The four-time all-star is in the Top 10 in WAR amongst Brewers. The same is similar to Jeff Cirillo, who trailed both Money and Molitor for consideration at third base. Gantner was a solid player, and his strengths were consistency and longevity. Christian Yelich doesn’t cut right now, but if he continues to produce and stays in Milwaukee, he will eventually push Thomas or Oglivie out.
See the All-Time Team Tournament Headquarters here.
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Players/Managers Mentioned: Jonathan Lucroy, Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, Ryan Braun, Gorman Thomas, Ben Oglivie, Cecil Cooper, Teddy Higuera, Ben Sheets, Dan Plesac, Rollie Fingers, Craig Counsell, Don Money, Jeff Cirillo, Jim Ganter, Christian Yelich
Dan Jaycox is a graduate of Southeast Missouri State University. He has been a news director at a radio station and a college instructor. He follows the Cardinals, the Cowboys, and the Blues. Additionally, he enjoys hiking, kayaking, hunting, and coaching youth sports.