As we continue to wait for baseball season to begin again, Reviewing the Brew will start a series looking at the best Brewers players by jersey number.
The Brewers media guide is a fantastic resource for all things Brewers and Brewers history. Included in that book is the Crew’s All-Time numerical roster, sorting out every Brewers player in history by jersey number.
So we’ll start at the beginning with jersey No. 1 and work our way through figuring out who is the best player to wear each number.
So let’s start with the best player to wear No. 1.
Jersey No. 1
Corey Hart (2004-2012)
Honorable Mention: Fernando Vina
Currently, the No. 1 hangs in the rafters at Miller Park, retired for original team owner Bud Selig. Selig never actually wore a jersey, so this honor goes to Corey Hart.
In nine seasons with the Brewers, Hart hit .276/.334/.491 with 211 doubles, 33 triples, and 154 home runs. Hart hit 30 or more home runs in both 2010 and 2012. Hart also drove in 102 runs in 2010 in what was arguably his best season as a Brewer, where he earned an All-Star nod and some NL MVP votes.
Hart was also an All-Star in 2008, the year the Brewers broke the playoff drought. The big, lumbering righty manned right field for several seasons in Milwaukee, and was a powerful force in the middle of that lineup, knocking 20+ home runs in five seasons in a six-year stretch from when he took over the everyday starting job.
There are a couple of other solid players who wore No. 1, and Fernando Vina provides a good argument. He manned second base on a number of forgettable Brewers teams in the mid-90s, bringing a solid bat and solid defense when he was healthy.
Jersey No. 2
Jose Valentin (1993-1999)
Honorable Mention: Bill Hall
Valentin: 2,409 ABs, 132 doubles, 18 triples, 90 home runs, 343 RBIs, 78 stolen bases, and a .240/.323/.421/.744 slash line
Hall: 2,676 ABs, 177 doubles, 17 triples, 102 home runs, 367 RBIs, 49 stolen bases, and a .253/.312/.446/.758 slash line
For all intents and purposes, it’s fairly even between the two, with perhaps Hall having the slight edge.
But what sets Valentin above Hall, in my book, is that Valentin was the Brewers starting shortstop for six consecutive seasons. Hall was versatile, played all over the diamond and played it well, including shortstop, but Valentin’s longevity and great defense at the toughest position in baseball sets him apart.
Valentin also posted double-digit home runs in six consecutive seasons for the Brewers while Hall only had four of those but his final tally is greatly increased by Hall’s outstanding 2006 campaign when he hit 35 long balls that season.
Valentin’s best offensive season as a Brewer came in 1996 when he hit 24 home runs with 95 RBIs and a .811 OPS.
Jersey No. 3
Orlando Arcia (2016-Present)
Honorable Mentions: Yuniesky Betancourt, Gorman Thomas
Most of you are probably looking at the honorable mentions and wondering how Gorman Thomas did not win this. Thomas wore No. 3 in 1975 and 1976, when he hit a collective .188 over 467 at-bats. After he changed to No. 20 in 1978, Thomas played a lot better and he’s more known as wearing No. 20, not No. 3.
Despite all the uncertainty around Orlando Arcia and his struggles offensively over the past two seasons, he’s been the best Brewers player wearing the number 3.
This jersey number has been a popular choice for managers, with Phil Garner, Jerry Royster, and Ned Yost being the most recent, but this list is about the best players wearing the number, so the managers are excluded.
Arcia is a wizard defensively, and he was probably the most hyped prospect to come through the Brewers farm system since Ryan Braun. There were high hopes surrounding Arcia heading into the 2020 campaign that he was getting his offense going, but we’ll have to wait a little longer to see if it’ll happen.
Yuni B had a solid, if unspectacular, season as the Brewers shortstop in 2011 after coming over with Zack Greinke in the trade with the Royals. He came back in 2013 and had gotten two years older and his production fell off in what ended up being the final year of his career.
Arcia has the highest level of production wearing the number and that’s kind of sad, but the narrative on Arcia still has time to change as he has plenty of room to grow and still some time to get there.
Jersey No. 4
Paul Molitor (1978-1992)
Was there really any doubt about this one? Molitor’s No. 4 hanging in the rafters at Miller Park and his enshrinement in the Hall of Fame are the two clinching factors in this one.
We could go into the stats all we want, but the bottom line is that Paul Molitor is the best player to wear No. 4 for the Brewers and no one else ever will again.
Jersey No. 5
George Scott (1972-1976)
Honorable Mention: Geoff Jenkins
The Brewers acquisition of George Scott in October 1971 was a very important one in franchise history. The Crew acquired Scott, Ken Brett, Billy Conigliaro, Joe Lahoud, Jim Lonborg, and Don Pavletich from the Red Sox for Tommy Harper, Lew Krausse, and Marty Pattin.
Scott was an established player in the league at the time, and it gave the newborn Brewers a face of the franchise and something to build around.
In his five seasons as a Brewer, Scott hit .283/.342/.456 with 137 doubles, 115 homers, and 463 RBIs. George Scott won the Gold Glove at first base in each of his five seasons in Milwaukee, received MVP votes in four of those seasons, and was somehow only an All-Star once.
1975 was his best season as a Brewer. He finished eighth in MVP voting that year, the highest finish of his career. Scott also led the league in home runs (36), RBIs (109), and total bases (318) that season.
Although Scott was not around for the “glory days” of Brewers baseball, he still had a huge part in it. In December 1976, the Brewers traded Scott back to the Red Sox along with Bernie Carbo in exchange for another first baseman…. Cecil Cooper.
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Be sure to look out for the next set of jersey numbers as we go through the best Milwaukee Brewers players to wear each number.