Taking a look at the all-time Milwaukee Brewers team … with a twist

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - SEPTEMBER 05: A picture of the American Family Field logo outside the stadium before the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at American Family Field on September 05, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Brewers defeated the Cardinals 6-5. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - SEPTEMBER 05: A picture of the American Family Field logo outside the stadium before the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at American Family Field on September 05, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Brewers defeated the Cardinals 6-5. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /
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(Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
(Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

Catcher: Jason Kendall #18 (2008-2009)

Jason Kendall joined the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008 as a three-time All Star with a solid reputation as one of the game’s best defensive catchers, clubhouse presences, and owner of one of the highest baseball-IQ’s in the game.

Never much of a power threat, Kendall hit four home runs with Milwaukee across over 1,100 plate appearances and 285 games. His batting average dipped somewhat but he continued to possess a well-above-average eye at the plate – drawing 96 walks while striking out just 103 times.

Kendall’s 2.9 dWAR posted in 2008 ultimately ended up being a career-high for the then-34 year old, he was able to post this alongside a 1.0 oWAR; a lower number than previous career showings but the defensive contributions were more-so where Jason Kendall’s value truly lied as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Honorable mention(s): Darrell Porter #15 (1971-1976), B.J. Surhoff #5 (1987-1995) Dave Nilsson #7/#11/#13/#14 (1992-1999)

Ineligible: Ted Simmons #23 (1981-1985 Hall of Fame), Jonathan Lucroy #20 (2010-2016 Active)

First base: Cecil Cooper #15 (1977-1987)

After spending the first six seasons of his 17-year career in the big leagues as a fringe member of the Boston Red Sox, Cecil Cooper was traded from Boston to Milwaukee in 1977 and the rest, as they say, is history.

Cecil Celester Cooper is one of the best players in Milwaukee Brewers history, making five All Star teams, winning two Gold Gloves and three Silver Sluggers while leading the AL in RBI in both 1980 and 1983. With over 200 home runs, 900 RBI, 30.4 oWAR and a .302 average across 1,490 games and almost 6,500 plate appearances, Cooper’s legacy in Milwaukee cannot be overstated, he is simply the best first baseman in the club’s history.

After Cecil Cooper’s dominant run in Milwaukee he earned a spot on the Brewers’ Wall of Honor as well as on the American Family Field Walk of Fame; although his number was never retired by the club, so he is the easy choice for this one.

Honorable mention(s): Prince Fielder #28 (2005-2011), Richie Sexson #11 (2000-2003)

Ineligible: Corey Hart #1 (2004-2012 Number Retired)

Second base: Jim Gantner #11/#17/#47 (1976-1992)

Jim Gantner should firmly be in the middle of the conversation when looking at the most underrated player in Milwaukee Brewers history. He broke into the big leagues in 1976 as a 23-year old second baseman and then proceeded to spend the next 16 seasons as a member of the Brewers, filling a variety of roles both offensively and defensively.

Jim “Gumby” Gantner was never a consistent power threat, only hitting double-digit home run totals and a SLG% over .400 once in his career, but he was good for no less than a .270-.280 batting average year in and year out while doing one of the most important things a baseball player can do, and that is stay on the field. Gantner was so little of a power hitter that he once went over 1,700 at bats and 350 games between home runs.

On defense, Gantner was the club’s primary second baseman essentially from 1979 until 1992, occasionally filling in at third (360 G, 2,600 innings) and shortstop (7 G, 42 innings) as needed but the Brewers had one face at second base for well over a decade.

Jim Gantner shockingly didn’t make a single All Star game throughout his career as he was never nationally popular but was certainly a hometown hero to fellow Wisconsinites (Gantner is from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin). He wrapped up his 17-year career with just under 1,700 hits, a .274 batting average and a total of 22.5 bWAR. Today you will find Jim Gantner as a member of the American Family Field Walk of Fame, Milwaukee Brewers Wall of Honor, and the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame.

Honorable mention(s): Rickie Weeks #23 (2003, 2005-2014) Tommy Harper #21 (1969-1971), Mark Loretta #8 (1995-2002)

Ineligible: Fernando Vina #1 (1995-1999 Number Retired)

Third base: Don Money #7 (1973-1983)

Don Money debuted in 1968 with the Philadelphia Phillies where he spent parts of five seasons before being dealt to Milwaukee in a huge seven-player deal in October of 1972.

Money, a four-time All Star with the Brewers, had his best career seasons in Milwaukee, highlighted by his performance in 1974 when he led the league in plate appearances, registered a career-high 178 base hits and 32 doubles, good for a 29th place finish in the AL MVP voting.

On defense, Don Money made appearances at all four infield spots, as well as a 23-game showing in left field in 1977. Money was widely considered to be one of the better defensive third basemen in the game, regularly posting above-average fielding percentages and committing just 63 errors over thousands of innings and defensive chances at the position.

In the end, Don Money’s Milwaukee Brewers career spanned 11 seasons. He put up 134 home runs, over 1,100 base hits, a 114 OPS+ and a 27.4 oWAR; good enough numbers to earn him a spot on the American Family Field Walk of Fame and the Milwaukee Brewers Wall of Honor, an induction that he was quoted  as saying was the “great honor of all” throughout his baseball career.

Honorable mention(s): Bill Hall #2 (2002-2009), Aramis Ramirez #16 (2012-2015), Sal Bando #6 (1977-1981) Jeff Cirillo #6/#7/#26 (1994-1999, 2005-2006) Casey McGehee #14 (2010-2011)

Ineligible: Paul Molitor #4 (1978-1992 Hall of Fame, Number Retired), Mike Moustakas #11/#18 (2018-2019 Active)

Shortstop: J.J. Hardy #7 (2005-2009)

James Jerry “J.J.” Hardy spent the first five seasons of his 13-year career as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers, just long enough to win over the fans of Wisconsin baseball.

Hardy made his first career All Star appearance in 2007 with the club while serving as their everyday shortstop, ultimately the only position he ever played in the major leagues due to his outstanding abilities to field the position. Hardy went on to win three Gold Glove awards with the Orioles in 2012, ’13, and ’14, but was a slick-fielder with Milwaukee as well, putting up 6.6 dWAR for the Brewers and 10.9 for the Orioles, and a career 17.5 dWAR mark.

On offense, Hardy possessed an excellent bat as well, routinely hitting 20+ home runs from between his peak of 2007-2013 and was always good for a low-to-mid .400’s slugging percentage. His home run hitting peak came in 2013 as a member of the Baltimore Orioles but his best overall seasons with the bat came in Milwaukee in 2007 and ’08, when Hardy hit 26 and 24 home runs, posting a .277 and .283 batting average respectively.

J.J. Hardy will forever live on in the hearts of Milwaukee Brewers fans, the five years he spent in the city were certainly memorable ones. He retired in 2017 and is now a member of the Milwaukee Brewers Wall of Honor.

Honorable mention(s): Dale Sveum #7/#27 (1986-1988, 1990-1991), Jose Valentin #2/#54 (1992-1999)

Ineligible: Pat Listach #4/#16 (1992-1996 Number Retired), Jean Segura #2 (2012-2015 Active), Robin Yount #19 (1974-1993 Hall of Fame, Number Retired)