The Milwaukee Brewers are starting Spring Training games. Baseball is truly back. As Milwaukee prepares for the season, they do so with two new outfielders: Andrew McCutchen and Hunter Renfroe. When Andrew McCutchen signed, he indicated in a Tweet that he would be wearing number five.
Long flight so I figured this is how I could introduce myself. What’s up Milwaukee! pic.twitter.com/XiBHnb61hC
— Andrew McCutchen (@TheCUTCH22) March 16, 2022
Even the Brewers posted pictures of a number five Andrew McCutchen jersey.
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) March 16, 2022
However, it is now being reported that Hunter Renfroe is switching his number to 12 and McCutchen will be taking 24.
🚨Number change alert 🚨
This has transpired since this morning, when Andrew McCutchen explained the story behind his No. 5.
McCutchen is now 24, and Hunter Renfroe is switching to 12.
We'll get the backstory on it tomorrow.
— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) March 18, 2022
Andrew McCutchen has switched to 24 because of his idol Ken Griffey Jr. “Hopefully the spirit of ‘The Kid’ can pump through the body.” pic.twitter.com/dMU3366E2z
— Sophia Minnaert (@SophiaMinnaert) March 18, 2022
All of this number switching occurred at an ideal time, at least for me. Jersey switching news aligns perfectly with the schedule of continuing the Brewers by the number series. So far, I covered numbers one through five and six through ten. Today, I will present the best Brewers players to wear numbers 11-15.
#11- Richie Sexson (2000-2003)
Unlike many numbers in Brewers’ history, the number 11 has been used quite frequently. As such, there are a plethora of good players to have worn the number who made an impact on the franchise. Despite the many qualified individuals, I have concluded that Richie Sexson, the six foot eight first baseman who played for the Brewers in the early 2000s.
The Milwaukee Brewers acquired Richie Sexson on July 28, 2000 in exchange for Steve Woodard, Bob Wickman, and Jason Bere. The Brewers also received Marco Scutaro, Kane Davis, and Paul Rigdon. During his time with the Brewers, Sexson hit .276/.366/.536 with 133 home runs and 398 RBI. On two occassions, Sexson tied the then-club record of home runs in a season with 45. He accomplished the feat in 2001 and 2003.
Richie Sexson also made two All-Star teams during his time with the Brewers. In 2002, when the All-Star game was at Miller Park, Sexson also competed in the Home Run Derby. All told, Sexson drove in over 100 runs in each of the full seasons that he was in Milwaukee. However, after the 2003 season, it was apparent that the Brewers would not be in the market to re-sign the slugger. Sexson was to hit free agency after the 2004 season.
As a result, the Brewers traded Sexson to the Arizona Diamondbacks. In return, the Brewers received Junior Spivey, Chris Capuano, Lyle Overbay, Jorge de la Rosa, Chad Moeller, and current manager Craig Counsell. Sexson only played in 23 games for the Diamondbacks due to injury, making this trade one of the most lopsided in recent sports history. Following 2004, Sexson spent a few good seasons with the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners traded him to the New York Yankees in 2008. He retired following the ’08 season.
Honorable Mentions: Lyle Overbay, Dave Nilsson, Mike Moustakas
#12- Carlos Villanueva (2006-2010)
The number 12 is another number that has been used by many players throughout the history of the Milwaukee Brewers. To be honest, there were not many good players to choose from. What it came down to, for me, was Carlos Villanueva, an oft-used pitcher, and Martin Maldonado, a backup catcher. Though Maldonado is now a Gold Glove catcher, he was never used as the starting catcher in Milwaukee due to Jonathan Lucroy’s presence. Villanueva, though, saw the field fairly regularly for a relief pitcher. His career-high for appearances came in 2009 when he pitched in 64 games.
Villanueva spent five years with the Brewers. He ended his time in Milwaukee with a record of 20-24 with a 4.34 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. Certainly not great numbers, but as mentioned earlier, there were not many good players to don number 12 for the Brewers. Perhaps Hunter Renfroe will find himself in this spot on the list before too long.
Honorable Mentions: Martin Maldonado, Matt Stairs, Henry Blanco (told you there weren’t great options)
#13- Will Smith (2014-2016)
Apologies to all the Zack Greinke enthusiasts, but the best number 13 in Brewers history has to go to Will Smith. As fun as it was to have Greinke, and as many wins as he did rack up in Milwaukee, Will Smith was just a better pitcher for the Brewers overall. In 2014, his first season with the Brewers, Smith led the National League in games pitched with 78(!). He finished the year with a 1-3 record and 3.70 ERA. In 2015, he was even better. Appearing in “just” 76 games, Smith finished 7-2 with a 2.70 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. He also had an ERA+ of 147.
For comparison, the best ERA+ Zack Greinke had as a Brewer was 120, and that was in the season the Brewers traded him to the Dodgers. In his only full season with the Brewers, Greinke’s ERA+ was just 103, one of the worst marks in his career. In fact, only his 2005 season, in which he led the AL with 17 losses, and 2010 in which he lost 14 games, were worse in terms in ERA+. While it is certainly true that Zack Greinke is better than Will Smith all time, Smith was the better Brewers pitcher.
Honorable Mentions: Zack Greinke, Jeff D’Amico
#14 Dave Nilsson (1992-1999)
To be honest, Dave Nilsson could have been a candidate for greatest Brewers to wear quite a few jersey numbers. In 1992, he wore 13. From 1992-1995, he wore number 11. In a part of1998, he wore number seven. But for my purposes, I am choosing to put him as the greatest Brewers player to wear number 14, which he donned from 1996-1999.
Dave Nilsson had a shorter career, but not due to injuries or poor play. He retired from Major League Baseball early to help promote the sport in his native Australia. However brief his career was, he was certainly one of the best catchers in Brewers history.
Nilsson’s best season, arguably, was in 1996 when he hit .331/.407/.525 with 17 home runs and 84 RBI. In 1999, his final MLB season, Nilsson hit .309/.400/.554 with 21 home runs and 62 RBI. He was also named to his first and only All-Star game. For his career, Nilsson hit .284/.356/.461.
Honorable Mentions: Casey McGehee, Hernan Perez
#15- Cecil Cooper (1977-1987)
I am certain that many people expected Ben Sheets to be here. However, and as good as Ben Sheets was, Cecil Cooper is arguable the best first baseman in Brewers history. Cooper was acquired from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Bernie Carbo and George Scott (who was my greatest Brewer to wear number five). In 11 seasons with the Brewers, Cooper hit .302/.339/.470 with 201 home runs and 944 RBI.
During his time in Milwaukee, Cecil Cooper led the American League in doubles twice (1979 and 1981), RBI twice (1980 and 1983), and total bases once (1980). In that 1980 season, Cooper hit .352/.387/.539 with 25 home runs and 122 RBI. Amazingly, he did not win the batting title. In eleven seasons, Cooper made five All-Star teams, won three Silver Sluggers, and two Gold Gloves. He also finished in the top five of MVP voting three times.
Simply put, a lot of recent Brewers fans remember Ryan Braun, Christian Yelich, and Prince Fielder as great offensive players. The truth is, Cecil Cooper should also be mentioned along with them.
Honorable Mention: Ben Sheets
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