By Jake McCormick
This decade, the Brewers made their one and only postseason appearance as the 2008 National League Wild Card. As sad as that and their run of three straight last place finishes from 2002-04 sounds, it was still a much better decade than the 1990s.
This should at least give you some indication that the Milwaukee Brewers’ all-decade team isn’t exactly star-studded. If anything, the cast bears more of a resemblance to “Brothers” than “Ocean’s Eleven.” Natalie Portman, Tobey McGuire, and Jake Gyllenhaal are good actors, but they are no George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts. Had to put this list into perspective before launching into it.
I included a DH and second starting pitcher in order to make it even with the AL all-decade teams.
C Jason Kendall
Popeye’s selection comes entirely because of his presiding over the best staff of the decade in 2008. But with Johnny “Double Play” Estrada, Chad Moeller, and Henry Blanco as his top competition, Kendall’s on-base percentage stands out as another reason he gets the nod in this group of soft-hitting catchers.
1B Prince Fielder
Richie Sexson had a fine career as a Brewer smoking balls off the Pepsi sign in Miller Park’s center field, but the Prince slightly edged him out in total home runs, RBIs, batting average, on-base percentage…you get the idea. Fielder also has finished two of his four years in the MVP discussion and is still younger than Sexson was as a Brewer.
2B Eric Young
If only Rickie Weeks were healthy enough to finish a full season batting around .280 with 15 home runs and 50 RBIs. Those numbers are close to the totals Young put up over one and a half seasons in a Brewer uniform. His 56 stolen bases were tops on the team over the 2002-03.
SS JJ Hardy
Jose Hernandez’s remarkable ability to rack up 180+ strikeouts in consecutive years, leading the league, should be noted. However, Hardy’s combined .280 BA, 50 HR, and 154 RBIs in the 2007 and 2008 seasons were paramount to the Brewers’ hot starts in both those seasons.
3B Bill Hall
Believe me, this is one of those guys that I would love nothing more than to sweep under the rug because of his amazing consistency to underwhelm. But like it or not, he’s better than Tyler Houston, Wes Helms, and the shell of Jeff Cirillo. And Casey McGehee has yet to play a full season at third. Hall’s glory days were in 2005 (.290 BA) and 2006 (35 HR, 85 RBI), and thank God I can move on to the outfield.
LF Ryan Braun
Braun has only been playing in the Bigs for three years, but he’s already the co-face of the franchise and has improved each year since ’07. Braun and Fielder were the top 3-4 hitting combo in the league last year, and his three year totals of 103 HR, 317 RBI, .308 BA, and .574 SLG speak for themselves in terms of his worth to Milwaukee baseball.
CF Brady Clark
Other than the fact that Scott Podsednik was a stealing machine in his two years as a Brewer, Clark edges him out in nearly every other statistical category. Comparing their best two years shows that Clark edged out Scotty Pods in batting average, RBIs, OBP, strikeouts, and slugging percentage. Pods was definitely electric to watch on the basepaths, but Clark was a hometown favorite for more than two years on bad teams.
RF Geoff Jenkins
The Brett Favre lookalike was a staple in the outfield, in the chewing tobacco community, and from the left side of the plate throughout the decade. He was to the Brewers what Jeff Conine was to the Marlins; not a superstar, but gave the team quite a few solid years of production and leadership. Unlike Favre, though, Jenkins’ departure form Milwaukee was on good terms, as he took out a full page ad in the Journal-Sentinel thanking the city for 10 years of support.
DH Carlos Lee
He couldn’t catch swine flu in a dormitory, but man could he hit. Lee was part of a team that was at the forefront of rejuvenating a complacent fan base in Milwaukee. He was durable and cranked 60 home runs and 195 RBI in 264 games. Lee is still highly productive, despite his Michelin Man size, and would be a welcome addition as a guy getting four at-bats a game from the bench.
SP Ben Sheets
When he wasn’t hurt, he was a bonafide ace in a rotation of forgettable (or memorably bad) pitchers like Jamey Wright, Jeff Suppan, and Wes Obermueller. Seriously, from the years 2002 to about 2006, Sheets was the only pitcher anyone would pay to see. The rest of the time the hitting “filled” the park.
SP CC Sabathia
Although he only played half a season, he turned in quite possibly the best half season performance after a trade in the history of baseball. Sabathia carried the team to the playoffs in the most literal sense of the word, going 11-2 with seven complete games and an ERA of 1.65. To give you an idea of how dominant these two pitchers were together in 2007, I saw them pitch complete games on back-to-back nights in game times of 2:14 and 2:15.
CL Francisco Cordero
Cordero set the team record in saves with 44 in 2007 and had a better ERA as a Brewer than his closest competitors, Dan Kolb and Derrick Turnbow. Cordero didn’t blow a save the entire first half of the season, and did his part to justify the Carlos Lee trade. The Brewers have never had the advantage of a closer that works out for more than two years at a time, and Cordero is the best example for the 2000s.
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