Our series determining the best Milwaukee Brewers players in franchise history to wear each jersey number continues as we break into the 20s.
We’ve already taken a look at the best Brewers players to wear jersey numbers 1-20, with a few slam dunk choices and a few tough decisions.
The decisions don’t get any easier as we now start going through the 20s and beyond. Let’s keep it going.
Jersey No. 21
Tommy Harper (1969-71)
Honorable Mention: Cal Eldred
Tommy Harper was one of the original Seattle Pilots and stayed with the organization as they moved to Milwaukee in 1970. He was the star that this Brewers expansion franchise needed to help get off the ground in the early years. He was the one that brought fans to the ballpark and wowed the crowd with his play.
In 1970, Harper had his breakout offensive season, hitting .296/.377/.522 with 35 doubles, 31 home runs, and 38 stolen bases. He drove in 82 runs, walked 77 times, and had a 146 OPS+. He was an All-Star that year and finished 6th in MVP voting.
There weren’t that many 30 HR/30 SB players back in 1970, and Harper was one of them.
Harper couldn’t maintain his numbers in 1971, and regressed back to the mean, hitting just 14 homers with a .258 average.
After the 1971 season, the Brewers sent Harper and others to the Red Sox for a package of players, including George Scott.
Cal Eldred earns an honorable mention for his efforts during the 1990s. He spent nine years with the organization and had some solid, if unspectacular years in the rotation on some mediocre teams, consistently sitting in the mid-4.00 range for his ERA.
Jersey No. 22
Christian Yelich (2018-Present)
Honorable Mentions: Charlie Moore, Mike Matheny
Surprised? Probably not. Christian Yelich has only been with the Brewers for two seasons so far and he’s already established himself as the best player to wear No. 22 for the Brewers in franchise history.
In his first season, Yelich slugged 36 homers, won the batting title, nearly won the Triple Crown, and won the NL MVP award, all while leading the Brewers to within a game of their first World Series appearance since 1982.
In his second season, Yelich hit 44 homers, won the batting title again, and finished second in MVP voting even though he would’ve won had it not been for an unfortunate foul ball off his knee, but I digress.
What Yelich has done in just two seasons is historic, and there has been no one better in the National League since 2018 than Yelich.
Prior to Yelich’s arrival, this title would’ve gone to either Charlie Moore or Mike Matheny. Moore spent several years as a positive contributor for the Brewers and had a key role in the successful 1981 and 1982 seasons. Matheny was mostly a backup catcher with the Brewers, except for the 1997 season and had some solid, yet still unspectacular numbers during his time.
Jersey No. 23
Ted Simmons (1981-85)
Honorable Mention: Rickie Weeks
This one might cause the biggest controversy, with Ted Simmons being ranked ahead of Rickie Weeks. Simmons, during his time in Milwaukee, hit .262 with a 100 OPS+. Simmons was elected to the All Star Game twice as a Brewer and was a key member of those 1981-82 playoff teams.
In Weeks’ tenure, which was much longer, he hit .249 with a 105 OPS+ and one All-Star appearance. Weeks has the edge in OPS+, but Simmons wins in batting average and All-Star appearances. On top of that, Simmons was a much better defender for his position than Weeks was for his position.
Plus, Ted Simmons is a newly elected member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Simmons was a far more successful player wearing No. 23 and that earns him this spot. Weeks was a very good and still underrated player during his prime, but it’s impossible to beat out a Hall of Famer that played a huge role on the 1982 World Series team.
Jersey No. 24
Ben Oglivie (1978-86)
Honorable Mentions: Darryl Hamilton, Jesus Aguilar
Ben Oglivie was entrenched as the starting left fielder for the Milwaukee Brewers for several seasons, starting in 1978. In his first season as a Brewer, Oglivie hit .304 with a .925 OPS, a 153 OPS+, 118 RBIs, and a league-leading 41 home runs. That stat line earned him a Silver Slugger award and a 13th place finish in MVP voting.
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In 1982, Oglivie hit 34 homers with 102 RBIs and a 118 OPS+. He consistently put up above-average offensive numbers for the Brewers over his nine seasons with Milwaukee. He finished his Brewers career with a .277/.345/.461 slash line and a 124 OPS+.
Darryl Hamilton had some solid offensive numbers during his time as a Brewer in the 90s, but didn’t possess much power, hitting just 23 home runs over his seven seasons in Milwaukee. Jesus Aguilar had a breakout 2018 season, and had some great moments, but wasn’t able to keep it up over a longer period of time.
Jersey No. 25
Bill Travers (1974-80)
Honorable Mention: Ricky Bones
The Brewers haven’t had much in the way of great players wearing No. 25. Bill Travers is the best of the bunch though, with a career 3.99 ERA as a member of the Brewers. Travers spent seven years in Milwaukee, starting 157 games for the Crew.
In 1976, Travers started 34 games, completed 15 of them, and posted a 2.81 ERA. That season he earned his first and only All-Star appearance.
Ricky Bones had a few solid years for the Crew in the 1990s, yet his numbers weren’t quite as good as the ones Travers put up.
There hasn’t been much continuity with this jersey number over the past several years. The last player to wear No. 25 for more than two years was Raul Casanova from 2000-02. It’s bounced around with Ji-Man Choi, Jordan Lyles, Mark Kotsay, and Josh Prince, among others in recent years. Currently, Brett Anderson wears the number, but it only under contract for one season.
Stay tuned as we continue to look at the best players to wear each jersey number for the Milwaukee Brewers.