Brewers: Plenty of Team Alumni Remain In 2020 MLB Division Series
By Matt Carroll
Tampa Bay Rays
The Marlins and the Padres are generally the most common teams who get mentioned when it comes to teams with former Brewers players. But there’s a team over in the American League who has a few of the team’s alumni as well.
The Tampa Bay Rays stormed through the regular season to the tune of 40 wins and the No. 1 seed in the AL. They swept the Toronto Blue Jays, who had three former Brewers of their own in Chase Anderson, Travis Shaw, and Jonathan Villar, in the Wild Card round.
The former Brewers who reside on the Rays’ roster is a bit more of an eccentric mix than the two previously mentioned team. The trio includes two cult heroes as well as one of the most well-traveled relievers in MLB history.
First you have first baseman Ji-Man Choi, who hit .230 in 42 games for Tampa in 2020. The lefty had an interesting tenure on the 2018 Brewers’ playoff team. Choi scored the game-winning run on Opening Day that year, only to be optioned to the minors the next day.
Then, after being recalled to the Brewers in mid-May, he would come off the bench to hit a pinch hit grand slam in a win over the Phillies on June 9th. So naturally he would be traded to the Rays the day after that game.
Then you have Brett Phillips. The outfielder with the unique laugh was a fan-favorite while in the Milwaukee organization but never received much playing time with the club and was also traded away in 2018 in the move that brought Mike Moustakas over from the Kansas City Royals.
Phillips didn’t receive much playing time with the Royals either, playing in 84 games over parts of three seasons and hitting .178 with the team. He was traded to the Rays in a deadline deal this season, going 3 for 20 in 17 games and making the team’s postseason roster.
Finally, there’s Oliver Drake. The right-handed reliever pitched for Milwaukee in 2017 and 2018, compiling a 4.82 ERA. The Brewers would end up designating him for assignment in early May and Drake would go on to set an MLB record by pitching for five different teams that season! He joined the Rays in 2019 and made the playoff roster despite a 5.73 ERA in 11 innings this year.
Oh one more reason to pull for the Rays: they match up in the Division Series against the New York Yankees. As a smaller market team, Brewers fans are officially obligated to root against the Evil Empire, right?