Major League Baseball has recently announced a new fan-driven campaign called “Franchise Four,” which will allow fans to vote for the “most impactful players” that best represent each major league franchise. These players can be selected for the ballot on many different merits: from prolific statistics, enduring presence, memorable moments, etc. Fan can also vote for the four “greatest living ballplayers,” a list that includes the likes of Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax, and Barry Bonds.
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The Milwaukee Brewers have released their own eight player ballot for the “Franchise Four,” as well. The Brewers have had several distinguished players put on the uniform during their 46 season existence; the team has had two players go into the Baseball Hall of Fame wearing Brewers’ caps, and have had several terrific players pass through Milwaukee at various points during their careers. In their best effort to reflect the most “impactful players” in franchise, here is the ballot that you can find on Brewers.com:
The Milwaukee Brewers “Franchise Four” ballot found on MLB.com.
With their ballot, it appears that the Brewers have focused on the two “winning eras” that the team has had during its history. Included are six players that were part of the American League pennant winning team of 1982; Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder represent the most recent run of success that included playoff appearances in 2008 and 2011. Fans can also write players in on their ballots when submitting them through Brewers.com.
My Milwaukee Brewers “Franchise Four”
1. Robin Yount
This list can’t start without putting “The Kid” at the top. Robin Yount was drafted in the first round by the Brewers in 1973, a shortstop taken out of high school. After just 64 minor league games, Yount made his major league debut the following season, posting a .622 OPS in 364 plate appearances as an 18 year old. Robin would spend 20 seasons in a Brewers uniform, setting just about every offensive franchise record while capturing Most Valuable Player awards in 1982 and 1989. Beyond his two MVPs, Yount was a three time All-Star, three time Silver Slugger, and won a Gold Glove at shortstop in 1982. Robin split his time about evenly between center field and shortstop, joined the 3,000 hit club in 1992. Robin finished his career with a .285/.342/.430 slash in 2856 games, and is the Brewers’ all-time leader in hits (3142), home runs (251), runs batted in (1406), runs created (1655), and wins above replacement (77.0). Robin Yount was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1999, and his Cooperstown bust proudly dons a Brewers’ cap.
2. Paul Molitor
Molitor was drafted by the Brewers in the first round of the 1977 draft. Like Yount before him, Molly had a brief 64 game minor league career before making his debut for the Brewers in 1978 at the age of 21 and finishing second in Rookie of the Year balloting. Molitor started his career as an infielder, playing mostly second and third base, before injuries forced him into becoming a full time designated hitter later in his career. Paul displayed a knack for getting on base and was an excellent baserunner, making him a natural fit at the top of the order and earning him the nickname “the Ignitor.” During his 15 seasons in Milwaukee, Molitor posted a .303/.369/.448 line in 1856 games, made five All-Star teams, won two Silver Sluggers, and finished in the top 20 of MVP voting six times. Paul Molitor ranks first in franchise history with 412 stolen bases, and is second in games (1856), runs scored (1275), hits (2281), walks (755), and wins above replacement (59.6). “The Ignitor” joined “the Kid” in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004.
3. Ryan Braun
Ryan Braun has no doubt been a controversial player during his time in Milwaukee, having been involved in a couple steroids scandals after receiving the most lucrative contract in club history. However, there might not be a more talented player in club history. Braun was drafted by the Brewers in the first round in 2005, and made his major league debut in 2007, capturing the Rookie of the Year award after hitting .324/.370/.634 with 34 home runs in just 113 games. Braun started his career with six straight seasons of 25+ home runs and captured the MVP award in 2011 after posting a .994 OPS and 7.8 wins above replacement while Milwaukee charged into the NLCS. Despite battling injuries the last two seasons, Braun is still the most talented and important player in the Brewers’ lineup. In his eight major league seasons, Braun has made five All-Star teams, won five Silver Sluggers, and in addition to his MVP award in 2011, has finished in the top 25 of voting five times, including runner-up in 2012. The “Hebrew Hammer” ranks second in club history with a .306 batting average, .918 OPS, is tied for second with 230 home runs, and ranks third in WAR.
For my final “Franchise Four” cornerstone, I will deviate from the list and include the Brewers first round pick from 1995, Geoff Jenkins. While it’s great to remember the highs that the Brewers’ have had during their history, we still must acknowledge the long history of losing that this franchise has endured. From 1998-2005, the Brewers were a punching bag for the National League, going a combined 561-733 for a .434 winning percentage. One of the Brewers’ lone bright spots during that time was the lefty swinging outfield stalwart, known for his moonshot home runs and strong arm from left field (and later right field, as well). During those eight seasons, Jenkins posted six 20+ home run campaigns (failing only in the seasons that he played less than 100 games), four seasons of OPS+ marks greater than 130, and made the 2003 All-Star team. Jenkins’ 21.6 fWAR from 1998-05 is more than eight wins higher than the next closest offensive player the Brewers’ had during that same period. Overall, Geoff played 10 seasons in Milwaukee, and posted a .275/.344/.490 batting line in 1234 games played. “Jenks” ranks fourth in club history in home runs (212), fifth in slugging (.496), OPS (.843), and runs batted in (704) sixth in hits (1221), and ninth in Wins Above Replacement (22.0).
There you have it, my four “most impactful players” in Milwaukee Brewers’ history. Agree or disagree with my picks? Let me know in the comments box below, and make sure to submit your own picks for the Milwaukee Brewers Franchise Four!