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 players to play third base for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Honorable Mentions: Travis Shaw, Mike Moustakas, Casey McGehee, Sal Bando
#5- Bill Hall
Bill Hall was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the sixth round of the 1998 amateur draft. He spent a few stints up with the Brewers in 2002 and 2003, but was up with the big league club to stay starting in 2004. Hall played many positions for the Brewers, including starting 130 games in center field in 2007. However, he played more games at third base than any other position, qualifying him for placement on this list.
Hall established himself as a good everyday player in 2005 when he hit .291/.342/.495 with 17 home runs and 62 RBI’s. However, his best season came a year later in 2006. During this season, Hall played in a career-high 148 games, hitting .270/.345/.553 with 35 home runs and 85 RBI’s. He also had one of the most memorable walk-off home runs in Brewers’ history on Mother’s Day:
Due to a crowded infield, the Brewers asked Hall to play center field in 2007, which he happily agreed to do. However, Hall’s offensive numbers dropped as he focused on learning a new position. and he never really got back to his 2006 form offensively. After returning to the infield in 2008, he was traded by the Brewers to the Mariners in 2009. He would bounce around the Majors for five more seasons, never really sticking on one team for more than a year.
#4- Aramis Ramirez
The Brewers made a rare free agent splash when they signed Aramis Ramirez to a three-year $36 million contract in 2014. He would make the decision to sign him look really good that season, hitting .300/.360/.540 with 27 home runs and 105 RBI’s. Ramirez was injured in 2015, but still hit .283/.370/.461 with 12 home runs and 49 RBI’s in just 92 games. In his last full season with the Crew, Ramirez made his third and final All-Star team. He hit .285/.330/.427 with 15 home runs and 66 RBI’s in 133 games that season. Both Ramirez and the Brewers agreed to exercise a mutual option for a fourth season, but he was traded to Pittsburgh midway through the 2017 season. He retired after the season was over.
While he did not play for the Brewers as long as the other players on this list, he provided consistent defense and clubhouse leadership. Even though the Brewers finished under .500 in all but one of those seasons, he embodied what it means to be a Brewer.
#3- Jeff Cirillo
Cirillo is the Brewers’ career batting average leader with .307 as a member of the team. That is higher than Paul Molitor (.303), Cecil Cooper (.302), and Ryan Braun (.298). His OBP as a Brewer is .383, good for second in team history. The only Brewer with a higher career OBP with the club is Prince Fielder (.390). In terms of WAR (wins above replacement), he ranks sixth in Position Player WAR, ninth in offensive WAR, and fifth in defensive WAR. The only two other third baseman that appear on those lists: Don Money and Paul Molitor.
The Brewers drafted Cirillo in the 11th round of the 1991 amateur draft. He made his Major League debut in 1994 and spent six seasons with the Brewers during his first stint with Milwaukee. Cirillo made his first career All-Star team in 1997. During that season, he hit .288/.367/.426 with 10 home runs and 82 RBI’s. The Brewers traded Cirillo to Colorado following the 1999 season in which he hit .326/.401/.461 with 15 home runs and 88 RBI’s. He made another All-Star team with Colorado before being traded to Seattle.
Jeff Cirillo did not play very well in Seattle at all, carrying a stat line of .234/.295/.308 in two seasons. He signed with the Brewers as a free agent ahead of the 2005 season and revitalized his career. In 2005, Cirillo hit .281/.373/.427 in just 77 games. 2006 was even better. During that season, Cirillo hit .319/.369/.414 in 112 games. He retired following the 2007 season, which he split between the Twins and Diamondbacks.
#2- Don Money
There are few players who embody Milwaukee baseball better than Don Money. Not only did Money spend 11 seasons with the Brewers as a player, he spent 13 seasons managing Brewers’ prospects on various levels of the minor leagues. He was even inducted to the Brewers Walk of Fame in 2005.
Money came to the Brewers via trade from the Philadelphia Phillies ahead of the 1973 season. He would go onto make four All-Star teams as a Brewer, including three straight from 1976-1978. Money played an important role in the magical 1982 run to the world series. In that campaign, Money hit .284/.360/.531 with 16 home runs and 55 RBI’s in 96 games. All told, Money hit .270/.338/.421 with 134 home runs and 529 RBI’s in his 11 seasons as a Brewer.
Don Money ranks fifth in Brewers history in both Position Player WAR and Offensive WAR. In addition, Money currently ranks eighth in total games played for the Brewers (1,196). Money also ranks in the Brewers top ten for hits (seventh), runs (eighth), and walks (seventh).
#1- Paul Molitor
Who else but the player with the tenth most hits in baseball history? Molitor played the majority of his games as a Brewer at third base, though many will claim that he was mainly a DH. Molitor did not become a full-time DH until 1991, spending just two of his 15 seasons with the Brewers as their DH.
Molitor’s accomplishments as a Milwaukee Brewer are the things of legend. Perhaps only Robin Yount is more beloved by fans who watched the two of them play. Molitor still remains in the Brewers top ten in the following categories :
- WAR Position Players and Offensive WAR (2nd)
- Batting Average (2nd)
- On-base Percentage (T-4th)
- Games Played (2nd)
- Runs (2nd)
- Hits (2nd)
- Home Runs (10th)
- RBI’s (4th)
- Walks (2nd)
- Stolen Bases (1st)
With the exception of batting average, the only player that ranks first in the categories in which Molitor ranks second is Robin Yount. For his career as a Brewers, “Molly” hit .303/.367/.444 with 160 home runs and 790 RBI’s. He also had 412 stolen bases and 1,275 runs scored. All of these numbers are impressive as they are, but many fans wonder what could have been if Molitor had not had the injuries that he did. His 1987 season was cut short by an injury while he was hitting .353/.438/.566 with 16 home runs and 75 RBI’s. Amazingly, he still led the American league in runs (114) and doubles (41) that year, despite only playing in 118 games.
More Brewers’ Greats
For more in our series on the five best players at each position, follow the links below:
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