1. 500 Home Run Club Member: Gary Sheffield
Gary Sheffield was drafted by the Brewers in the first round (6th pick) of the 1986 amateur draft. Infamously, he did not like Milwaukee and his play reflected his discontent. In parts of four seasons with the Brewers, Sheffield he only hit .259/.319/.376 with 21 home runs and 133 RBI’s. After being traded, however, Sheffield’s career took off. He was an All-Star in his first season after the trade and won the NL batting title with a slash line of .330/.385/.580. He also hit 33 home runs and had 100 RBI’s. Sheffield would go onto be a 9-time All-Star and hit 509 career home runs.
He never stayed on one team too long, playing for 8 teams in his 22-year career. His name has been linked to steroid usage, and he has not garnered very many Hall of Fame votes. However, there is no denying the Brewers certainly missed out on the best of Sheffield’s career.
2. AL Home Run Champion: Khris Davis
Khris Davis was made for the American League. He is a below average defensive outfielder, but, boy, can he hit! In his first season with the Brewers, he hit 11 home runs in just 56 games. In his first full season (2014), he hit 22 home runs in 144 games. 2015 saw Davis start a string of four straight seasons in which he would have the same batting average: .247. 2015 was also Davis’s last for the Brewers as he was traded to the Athletics for Jacob Nottingham. From 2016-2018, Davis hit over 40 home runs in each season: 2016- 42; 2017- 43; 2018- 48, which led the American League.
Davis had a down year last season, only hitting 23 home runs while hitting .220/.293/.387, the worst hitting season of his career. Davis admitted to battling through an injury in 2019. This spring, he joked that his goal is to get his batting average back to .247 when asked how he expected to improve from last season.
Given the Brewers outfield depth, it is unlikely that Davis would get the playing time that he gets with Oakland. He is better suited as a DH anyways. While he is not likely a piece that the Brewers would need in order to win this year, the fact that his career exploded when he left Milwaukee cannot be denied.
3. All-Star and MVP Candidate: Dante Bichette
Dante Bichette was acquired by the Brewers in a trade for All-Star Dave Parker. Prior to coming to the Brewers, Bichette was barely a mediocre hitter who had a slash line of .244/.274/.394 and 18 career home runs. In two seasons with the Brewers, he was not that much better. During his time in Milwaukee, he hit .261/.293/.399 with 20 home runs. The Brewers traded Bichette to Colorado for Kevin Reimer in November of 1992. It was in Colorado that Bichette’s career really took off.
In 7 seasons with the Rockies, Bichette hit .316/.352/.540 with 201 home runs and 826 RBI’s. He made four All-Star teams and came in second in the National League MVP vote in 1995. His best season was that ’95 season in which he hit .340/.364/.620 with 40 home runs and 128 RBI’s. In 1998, Bichette led the NL in hits with 219 to go along with a .331 batting average.
Bichette’s name, like Sheffield’s, has been linked to steroids, and he did not last long on the Hall of Fame ballot. He failed to garner enough votes to stay on the ballot very long. He probably also benefited from playing in Colorado, as many players’ hitting numbers improve due to the altitude. Regardless, Brewers fans in 90’s had to watch their team field less-than-ideal teams while this former player tore up the league.
4. 4X All-Star: Michael Brantley
On July 7, 2008, the Brewers sent three minor league players, including top prospect Matt LaPorta, to the Cleveland Indians for CC Sabathia. The deal also included a player to be named later. On October 3 of that year, Brantley was sent to Cleveland to complete the trade.
Brantley would go on to make three All-Star teams with Cleveland. He was also an All-Star last season as a member of the Houston Astros. In 2014, Brantley came in third in the AL MVP voting after hitting .327/.385/.506 with 20 home runs and 97 RBI’s. At this point in his career, Brantley has career averages of .297/.354/.439.
Even though he never got a chance to play for the Brewers, Brantley was a Brewers’ draft pick. He made his major league debut in 2009 and was a regular starter by 2011. He was an All-Star by 2014 and is now a perennial All-Star, having been named to the team in each of the past three seasons. Again, the Brewers outfield is crowded at the moment, but it’s hard to say that having three All-Star outfielders if we still had him (joining Yelich and Cain) wouldn’t be formidable.
5. Another 4X All-Star: Darrell Porter
Darrell Porter was the Brewers first-round draft pick (4th overall pick) in the 1970 amateur draft. In parts of six seasons with the Brewers, Porter hit .229/.334/.375. He did make one All-Star team as a Brewer (1974), but overall was not really a consistent offensive player. The Brewers traded Porter to the Royals after the 1975 season in which Porter hit .208/.298/.288.
It would be with the Royals that Porter enjoyed the best seasons of his career. Porter made three straight All-Star teams from 1978-1980 and finished in the top 10 of the MVP voting twice. In 1979, Porter hit .291/.421/.484 with 20 home runs and 112 RBI’s. He led the AL in walks that year with 121. After four seasons with Kansas City, Porter spent five seasons with St. Louis and two with the Rangers. He was the starting catcher for the Cardinals team that defeated the Brewers in the 1982 World Series. Porter was actually the MVP of the Series that year, adding a little bit of salt to the wounds of Brewers fans who watched their former fourth-overall pick play and win against them.
6. A Short Stop Who Can Hit: Jean Segura
When the Brewers traded Zach Greinke to the Angels midway through the 2012 season, Jean Segura was the main player they got in return. In 2013, his first full season, Segura was an All-Star hitting .294/.329/.423 with 44 stolen bases. However, Segura’s next two seasons with the Brewers were sub-par in comparison. He had a .246 batting average in 2014, and hit .257 in 2015. His on-base percentage also dipped below .300 in each of these seasons.
Believing Segura would not improve, the Brewers traded him to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Chase Anderson and Aaron Hill. In his only season with Arizona, Segura hit .319/.368/.499 with 20 home runs and 64 RBI’s. He also led the league in hits that season with 203. The Diamondbacks, entering a rebuild, traded Segura to the Mariners. In two seasons with the Mariners, Segura hit .302/.345/.421. He also made his second All-Star team in 2018. The Mariners traded him to Philadelphia prior to the 2019 season. Last season, Segura hit .280/.323/.420. Given the offensive woes of Brewers’ shortstops in recent years, Segura is a player they might like to have back.
7. He Came Home (At Least): Lorenzo Cain
Speaking of having players back…
Lorenzo Cain was originally drafted by the Brewers and made his major league debut with the club in 2010. However, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals along with Jeremy Jeffress and Alcides Escobar in the deal that brought Zack Greinke to Milwaukee.
Cain spent 7 seasons with the Royals, hitting .288/.347/.413. His best season was the 2015 campaign in which he hit .307/.361/.477 with 16 home runs and 72 RBI’s. He also scored 101 runs and stole 28 bases in that season. He was named to his first All-Star team, finished third in the MVP voting, helped the Royals win the World Series.
Yes, Cain is back, and yes his 2018 season was in many ways better than his 2015 season (better batting average, on-base percentage, more stolen bases, etc.). Also, he did win his first Gold Glove award as a member of the Brewers in 2019. However, there is a reason why the Brewers wanted to bring him back in the first place: his career took off after we traded him in the first place.
8. 3X Gold Glove Winner: JJ Hardy
JJ Hardy was the Brewers second round draft pick in the 2001 amateur draft. He made one All-Star team with the Brewers and hit .262/.323/.428 in five seasons with the club. He hit over 20 home runs twice (2007 and 2008), but was always praised more for his great defense.
The Brewers traded Hardy to the Twins ahead of the 2009 season in exchange for Carlos Gomez. In 2010, Hardy was traded by the Twins to the Orioles, with whom he would spend the remainder of his career. In his first season with Baltimore, Hardy hit .269/.310/.491 with 30 home runs and 80 RBI’s. While he would never reach those offensive totals again in any given season, his defense was always what he was best known for. Hardy would win the AL Gold Glove Award at shortstop in 2013, 2014, and 2015. He would also make a second (and final) All-Star team in 2013, in addition to winning the Silver Slugger Award for shortstop that season.
Hardy was a fan-favorite during his time in Milwaukee and he had a couple very good seasons for the Brewers. However, his tenure in Baltimore is a better representation of who he was as a player.
9. Too Early to Tell: Scooter Gennett
Scooter Gennett was another fan-favorite who hit .279/.318/.420 in parts of four seasons with the Brewers. His numbers were not terrible. In fact, they were slightly above average, which made his placement on the waiver wire by the Brewers so shocking to the fan base.
Gennett was claimed off of waivers by the division-rival Reds. In his first season with the Reds, Gennett hit .295/.342/.531 with 27 home runs and 97 RBI’s (much better numbers than he ever had in Milwaukee). He also became the 17th player in MLB history to hit 4 home runs in a single game. In 2018, Gennett hit .310/.357/.490 with 23 home runs and 92 RBI’s and was named to his first All-Star team. He had a down year last season and was traded for cash to the San Francisco Giants. Gennett didn’t impress the Giants and he was released following the season.
Gennett is currently a free agent, waiting for another opportunity to play. He may end up being a player that the Brewers do not end up missing so much, but his two seasons following his release from the Brewers sure left a lot of fans with a bitter taste in their mouths.
10. The Whistle Blower: Mike Fiers
Mike Fiers is not on this list because he became a Cy Young level pitcher after his time in Milwaukee. He’s not even on this list because he threw two no-hitters after his time in Milwaukee (well, maybe a little bit). Mike Fiers is on this list because his career has exploded due to his role in bringing the Astros sign-stealing scandal to light.
Fiers was drafted by the Brewers and spent four and a half seasons with Milwaukee. He was traded, along with Carlos Gomez, to the Astros in exchange for Josh Hader, Adrian Houser, Brett Phillips, and Domingo Santana. Fiers threw his first career no-hitter as a member of the Astros and helped them win the World Series in 2017 (though, he probably did not help as much as the camera in center field). He signed as a free agent with the Tigers prior to the 2018 season, and was traded to Oakland halfway through that campaign. He would go on to throw his second career no-hitter as a member of the Athletics.
Mike Fiers is not a bad pitcher. In fact, he has an ERA under 4.00 for each team for whom he has pitched, except for the Astros (4.59). If the Brewers had not traded Fiers to Houston, who knows if there would have been a cheating scandal?
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