The Milwaukee Brewers are celebrating their 50th year of baseball in Milwaukee this year. Even though it is unknown as to when the season will start, this is something worth highlighting and celebrating. Over the next few weeks, OTH Wisconsin will highlight the top players at each position throughout the Brewers’ 50 year history. Here, we take a look at the best center fielders in the history the Milwaukee Brewers.
#5- Darryl Hamilton
Darryl Hamilton does not have the name recognition of all the other players on this list. In fact, he oftentimes is not remembered at all given how poorly the Brewers played during the majority of his career in Milwaukee. However, his steady play both at the plate and in the field earn him a spot on this list of great center fielders.
Hamilton was drafted by the Brewers in the 11th round of the 1986 amateur draft. Though he would play all three outfield positions with the Brewers, he played more games in center field than any of the other two positions. Hamilton twice finished seasons with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage in his career, though he never won a Gold Glove. This is quite surprising given the fact that Hamilton only committed 14 errors throughout his entire career.
An above average defender, Hamilton was no slouch with the bat either. In seven seasons with the Brewers, Hamilton had a slash line of .290/351/.384 with 23 home runs and 253 RBI’s. His best season with the Brewers came in 1993 when he hit .310/.367/.406 with nine home runs and 48 RBI’s. He also stole 21 bases that season.
While his offensive numbers were never flashy, Hamilton still ranks in the top ten of several offensive categories for the Brewers. His .290 average in Milwaukee is good for sixth in Brewers’ history. He also ranks in the top ten in stolen bases (tenth) and at bats per strikeout (fifth).
Unfortunately, Darryl Hamilton was murdered by an ex-girlfriend in 2015.
#4- Carlos Gomez
Carlos Gomez is one of a handful of Brewers players who were never drafted by any Major League team. Instead, Gomez was signed as an amateur free agent by the Mets in 2002. In 2008, the Mets traded Gomez to the Minnesota Twins as part of the deal that sent Cy Young winner Johann Santana to New York. After two season with the Twins, Gomez was traded to the Brewers in exchange for JJ Hardy.
In just over five seasons with the Brewers, Gomez posted a slash line of .267/.325/.452 with 87 home runs and 288 RBI’s. His 152 stolen bases as a Brewer are good for fourth in team history. He is second in team history in defensive WAR, trailing only Jim Gantner. Gomez also ranks tenth in team history with 25 triples.
Carlos Gomez had two standout seasons as a center fielder during his tenure with the Brewers. In 2013, Gomez hit .284/338/.506 with 24 home runs, 73 RBI’s, and 40 stolen bases. He was named an All-Star that season, finished ninth in MVP voting, and won a Gold Glove. In 2014, Gomez hit .284/.356/.477 with 23 home runs, 73 RBI’s, and 34 stolen bases. He was named an All-Star again and finished 16th in MVP voting.
In 2015, Gomez was traded to the Houston Astros along with Mike Fiers in exchange for Brett Phillips, Adrian Houser, Josh Hader, and Domingo Santana. In 2018, Gomez was second in the AL in errors by an outfielder. Last season, he only appeared in 34 games for the New York Mets while hitting a measly .198. He is not currently on a Major League roster.
#3- Lorenzo Cain
Lorenzo Cain was originally drafted by the Brewers in the 17th round of the 2004 amateur draft. After a brief stint with the Brewers in 2010, Cain was included in the trade that brought Zack Greinke to Milwaukee. Cain spent seven seasons in Kansas City, making an All-Star team and finishing third in MVP voting in 2015.
On the same day that the Brewers traded for Christian Yelich, they also announced that Lorenzo Cain was coming home on a five-year $80 million contract. Cain’s signing has, so far, been one of the better free agent signings in team history. In 2018, Cain hit a career-best .308/.395/.517 with 10 home runs, 38 RBI’s, and 30 stolen bases. He was named an All-Star and finished seventh in MVP voting. Last season, his offensive numbers dipped due to nagging injuries. However, his defense was still stellar enough to earn him the Gold Glove.
Cain very well might be the best defensive center fielder the Brewers have ever had. However, he needs to play for Milwaukee for a few more years before he can move up on this list.
#2- Gorman Thomas
Stormin’ Gorman is by far one of the most popular players to have ever played for the Milwaukee Brewers. Known for lighting up Marlboros and drinking beer in the clubhouse, he physically did not fit the ideal image of a center fielder. However, his tendency to run into the outfield wall to make plays as a member of Harvey’s Wallbangers make him an endearing figure in Brewers history.
An all-or-nothing hitter, Thomas hit 208 home runs during his time with the Brewers, which is fifth in team history. He led the AL in home runs twice as a Brewer, hitting a then-team record 45 in 1979 and 39 in 1982. Between the seasons of 1978 and 1982, no Major League player hit more home runs than Gorman Thomas.
Gorman was infamously traded to the Cleveland Indians midway through the 1983 season. After suffering an injury with the Seattle Mariners in 1984, he won the AL Comeback Player of the Year award in 1985 after hitting 32 home runs. He was added to the exclusive Brewers Walk of Fame in 2004.
#1- Robin Yount
Robin Yount has already made an appearance in this series, being named the best short stop in Brewers history. Well here he is again, the greatest center fielder in Brewers history as well. After winning his first MVP award as a short stop in 1982, Yount won a second MVP in 1989 as a center fielder. He is one of four Major League players to win the MVP from two different positions. The others are Hank Greenberg, Stan Musial, and Alex Rodriguez.
Yount moved to center field in 1985, but was below average (for him), hitting .277/.342/.442 with 15 home runs and 68 RBI’s in 122 games. 1986, though, started a string of four straight seasons in which Yount would hit over .300. His best season in center, of course, was 1989 when he hit .318/.384/.511 with 21 home runs and 103 RBI’s. He won both the MVP and Silver Slugger Awards that season.
Yount retired following the 1993 season after 20 years with the Brewers. He remains the Brewers all-time leader in hits, doubles, triples, runs scored, RBI’s, games played, and WAR. He was inducted into Cooperstown in 1999.
More Brewers’ Greats
For more in our series on the five best players at each position, follow the links below:
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