Our ranking of the Top 50 Milwaukee Brewers of the 2010s rolls on as we go through the 30s.
We made it through numbers 50 up to 40 and now find ourselves up into the 30s as we keep chugging along our way to ranking the best Milwaukee Brewers player of the 2010s.
How We Ranked Them
We created an initial list of the top players by combining their Fangraphs Total WAR from each year they were on the Brewers and ranking them from highest to lowest.
However, this wasn’t going to be a list of simply who had the highest WAR while they were here and that’s it. So we adjusted the list based on postseason contributions, overall quality of player, and general importance to the franchise.
Our list continues.
39. RHP Kyle Lohse
Kyle Lohse was an exciting signing for the Brewers when he came to the club shortly before the start of the 2013 regular season.
Lohse broke onto the Major League scene with the Minnesota Twins back in 2001, where he proved to be a solid, albeit not spectacular option in the rotation in his five plus seasons on the club.
When and where he made a name for himself, however, was in the National League, particularly on the St. Louis Cardinals.
In his several seasons in St. Louis, Lohse was among the better starting pitchers in all of baseball in run prevention when healthy. He was a standout on a 2008 team (2.8 fWAR, 3.78 ERA, 3.89 FIP) that struggled, but was even better in 2011 (2.2 fWAR, 3.39 ERA, 3.67 FIP) and 2012 (3.3 fWAR, 2.86 ERA, 3.51 FIP) when the Cardinals made back-to-back runs deep into the postseason.
He was never an elite pitcher at missing bats, but his ability to keep walks to an absolute minimum and limit home runs made him one of the best control pitchers in the Major leagues.
All of that success, particularly before he was set to hit the open market in the winter of 2012-13, led the Cardinals to extend a qualifying offer to him, which he rejected.
The Brewers ended up getting Lohse for quite a bit less per year (3 years $33 million, average $11 million per year) than he would have gotten had he taken the $13.3 million qualifying offer from St. Louis (even with $7 million in additional money deferred to 2016-18). The Brewers did have to forfeit their first round pick in the 2013 MLB draft (17th overall) as compensation for signing him though.
How did Lohse’s three years in Milwaukee play out? Let’s take a look at the stats.
2013: 1.6 fWAR, 3.35 ERA, 4.08 FIP
2014: 1.9 fWAR, 3..54 ERA, 3.95 FIP
2015: -0.3 fWAR, 5.85 ERA, 5.12 FIP.
Total fWAR in Milwaukee: 3.2
As the stats show, Lohse’s first two seasons in Milwaukee went pretty well.
in 2013, he was, by some metrics, the Brewers best starting pitcher. However, weaknesses across the rest of the team, particularly on offense, saw the team win just 74 games in his debut season.
The following season, in 2014, Lohse played a pivotal role in leading the Milwaukee Brewers into contention for the playoffs. Milwaukee surged out to a hot start thanks to their solid starting pitching, and hot starts to the season from players like Jean Segura, Carlos Gomez, and Scooter Gennett.
Unfortunately, despite continued success from their rotation, including from Lohse, the team had two horrible losing runs in the second half of the season thanks to struggles in their offense and in their bullpen. Those horrible stretches saw them miss the playoffs after having been 19 games over .500 (51-32) on June 28th.
In his final season on the team in 2015, it looked like age finally caught up to him. The team collapsed early in the season and never recovered. Lohse was a part of the reason why they struggled, as his ability locate his pitches was lost and he got absolutely hammered for home runs as a result.
Though Kyle Lohse’s final season was quite poor, there’s no doubt that he made a substantial positive impact on the Milwaukee Brewers in his three seasons on the club.
His first two seasons in Milwaukee were exactly what the team wanted from him: He was a solid starting option who they could rely on to pitch a good game every five days. It’s not his fault that so many holes sprung up elsewhere on the roster during those seasons that ultimately kept the team out of the post-season.
What keeps Lohse from featuring higher on our list, however, was that he never got a chance to pitch for the team in the playoffs. He also never had a season in Milwaukee that was quite as good production-wise as another Brewers free agent signing who will be featuring on our list very soon. For as good as he was, he never quite hit the heights in Milwaukee that he did in St. Louis too.
The Brewers have signed a lot of pitchers in free agency to help bolster their rotation over the years. However, no starter they’ve signed over the decade was arguably as good as Kyle Lohse was for them.
He deserves his due credit for his production in Milwaukee, and is absolutely deserving of being on this list.