The results of our Sweet 16 bracket of Milwaukee Brewers managers has finally found a champion.
A few weeks ago, we here at Reviewing the Brew began a bracket of 16 Milwaukee Brewers managers in order to determine who was the best among that group.
The first round went according to expectations, with zero upsets and each No. 1 and No. 2 seeds advancing to the Elite Eight. It was there that we found our first upset of the tournament, with the No. 2 seed Ron Roenicke defeating No. 1 seed George Bamberger and advancing to the final four.
The Final Four had some interesting matchups, with Roenicke taking on the club’s all-time winningest manager in Phil Garner on one side, and then a matchup between Harvey Kuenn and Craig Counsell on the other side.
Roenicke easily defeated Garner to move on to the championship and Counsell surprisingly didn’t have much of a challenge in defeating Kuenn to move on as well.
That set up the battle between Roenicke and Counsell, the two most recent Brewers managers. Perhaps it’s a shade of recency bias that led to this final pairing, but both made playoff appearances and have had stretches of success.
Craig Counsell Wins
In the final voting, Craig Counsell crushed Roenicke with 96% of the vote, a total landslide victory. Once Counsell got past Kuenn, who remains the only manager to take the Brewers to the World Series, he was basically assured of victory.
As Brewers manager, Counsell has some great credentials, including being the only manager to take the team to back-to-back playoff appearances (Buck Rodgers was ’81 and Kuenn was ’82), getting to Game 7 of the NLCS, )which was a game farther than Roenicke got in 2011), and eye-popping September success.
Craig Counsell has revolutionized the manager position. He isn’t afraid to try something out of the box with his pitching staff, including starting Wade Miley in Game 5 of the NLCS, having him face one batter, and then bringing in Brandon Woodruff to pitch the bulk of the innings, and line up Miley for Game 6. Despite having a vastly inferior pitching staff to the Dodgers, Counsell got the Brewers to a Game 7 and, frankly, they should have won that series earlier, but that was more on the players not executing.
Anyways, Counsell’s ability to mix and match his lineup and his pitching staff day in and day out is nothing short of incredible, and he should’ve won Manager of the Year the past two seasons. He managed to keep the team winning through the loss of Christian Yelich in mid-September last year, and rallied them to a Wild Card spot.
Counsell is now the longest tenured manager in the National League, and he’s widely regarded as one of the best in baseball.
Plus, Counsell is a great players’ manager, and can control the clubhouse extremely well, meshing a variety of different cultures and building a clubhouse culture that’s extremely positive, family oriented, and fun, which has led to the success they’ve had on the field.
As much as someone like Harvey Kuenn accomplished, getting the team to the World Series, he also didn’t have the kind of longevity that Counsell has had. Counsell took the team through the rebuild stages in 2015 and 2016 and then to a surprising run at the playoffs that fell just a little short in 2017, and then playoff runs the past two seasons.
What Craig Counsell has done in the manager’s chair is completely different than what any previous manager has done before. He’s a part of the new school of managers that mesh analytics with gut feelings and he does that quite well.
There’s no doubt about it anymore, Craig Counsell is the best manager in Brewers franchise history.
Counsell recently signed another three year extension and in a few years, he’ll likely surpass Phil Garner as the franchise’s all time winningest manager.