As the offseason continues, let’s look at some moves in Brewers history that briefly altered the course of the franchise.
Brewers History – January 27, 1901
This iteration of the Milwaukee Brewers became the St. Louis Browns the following year, but they had an eventful 1901 season. On January 27, 1901, the future Hall of Famer Hugh Duffy “jumped” to the Brewers from the Boston Beaneaters.
Previously, Duffy had led the league in runs, hits (twice), doubles, home runs (twice), and RBI. He also won two batting titles. In 1894, he hit a preposterous .440 with 51 doubles and 18 home runs. His 1.196 OPS led all players. After 10 seasons in Boston – nine with the Beaneaters – Duffy moved to the AL.
In 1901, Duffy served as the club’s player-manager. While he was a productive hitter (.302/.341/.439, 119 OPS+), he seemed to be overmatched as a manager. The Brewers went 48-89-2, finishing 35.5 games back from the pennant-winning White Sox.
Brewers History – January 27, 1999
On this day, the Brewers signed one of the most inspirational players in MLB history – Jim Abbott. Abbott was born without his right hand, but he pitched 10 years in the Majors including the 1999 season with the Brewers.
Abbott debuted in 1989 with the California Angels. After two below-average seasons, Abbott was one of the best pitchers in the AL in 1991 and 1992. In 1991, Abbott went 18-11 with a 2.89 ERA, finishing third in Cy Young voting. The following season, he only went 7-15, but he had an even better 2.77 ERA in over 200 innings pitched.
After time with the Angels, Yankees, and White Sox, Abbott made the move to Milwaukee. His Brewers tenure was tumultuous as he allowed a 6.91 ERA. However, he got the first two hits of his MLB career as he had spent the first nine years of his career in the AL. Abbott retired after the season with a 99 ERA+.
Brewers History – January 27, 2003
The Brewers signed two free agents on January 27, 2003. Jake Robbins did not play a Major League game with the club, but Eddie Perez did, recording a solid season as a part-time catcher.
Perez was an experienced backstop, winning a World Series with the 1995 Braves and even winning NLCS MVP in 1999. Perez was something of a playoff hero in Atlanta, slashing .299/.324/.463 in 74 plate appearances. Across the 1998 and 1999 NLCS, he went 13 for 24 with four extra-base hits and five RBI.
He was never a great regular-season hitter (77 OPS+), but he did have his best full season as a Brewer. He set career bests in games played, hits, home runs, and runs batted in. He had a down season defensively (-5 DRS), but he ended up posting 0.3 WAR over 107 games for Milwaukee.
Milwaukee released Robbins in April, and Cleveland signed him. He pitched for Cleveland in 2004, allowing one run in 1.2 innings of work.
Brewers History – January 27, 2010
On January 27, 2010, the Brewers signed utility player Joe Inglett. Inglett played 102 games for the club before leaving in free agency after the season. Inglett was a productive pinch-hitter and defensive replacement, playing in 102 games for the 2010 Brewers.
Inglett posted solid numbers, recording a 97 OPS+ in 160 plate appearances. He hit eight doubles and five triples, giving him an isolated power around league average despite him hitting just one home run. He also had five defensive runs saved in just 181.1 innings on the field.
Most of Inglett’s production came as a pinch-hitter, and he often came through despite the lack of in-game rhythm. As a pinch-hitter, he slashed .294/.377/.485 with 7 extra-base hits. With men on, his OPS was 30 points higher.