Wondering who wore a certain uniform number all-time for the Milwaukee Brewers?
The Brewer Nation has got you covered. If you found this list on its own, head back here for the full repository after checking out this one.
Brad Lesley (’85)
Kiki Diaz (’86)
Jim Tatum (’92)
Josias Manzanillo (’93)
Sid Roberson (’95)
Ramon Garcia (’96)
Eddy Diaz (’97)
Carl Dale (’99)
Jimmy Haynes (’00-’01)
Luis Vizcaino (’02-’04)
Kane Davis (’05)
Brian Shouse (’06-’08)
Trevor Hoffman (’09-’10)
Jim Henderson (’12)
Michael Gonzalez (’13)
Wei-Chung Wang (’14)
Jonathan Broxton (’14-’15)
Cesar Jimenez (’15)
Sam Freeman (’16)
Damien Magnifico (’16-Current)
By: Big Rygg
With Trevor Hoffman finally closing in (pun intended) on career save number 600, I wanted to definitely to highlight the forthcoming achievement in some way.
I thought about a career retrospective but decided that would be best left for once his career is actually complete.
I considered a chronicle of his year plus spent in a Brewers uniform, but that too isn’t a chapter that is finished being written.
A listing of accolades for Hoffman could write itself and easily eclipse 1000 words without even trying, and a thoughtful piece about what it must mean for Hoffman to have fallen so hard and fast off of what appeared to be the edge of the Chasm of Old Age only to right his ship, so to speak, and once again be considered as a reliable option just seems like it might be a bit premature.
In other words, that seems like it ought to wait until 600 has actually been reached as opposed to only being somewhere off on the seemingly distant horizon.
So instead, I offer this tried and true format of placing Hoffman in a list of his game-ending brethren because quite frankly whether he never records another save or notches his 600th on Saturday (two games from now since he’s still only at 598), it won’t affect my feelings as to where he places in said list.
Read it, debate it in the comments, call me names, dispute my opinions, offer me new-school statistics to support your points and refute mine…or simply agree with me.
Either way, let’s have some fun with this, okay?
10. John Smoltz
Full disclosure: John Smoltz is my favorite pitcher of all time.
Continued disclosure: if not for injury, John Smoltz never closes a single game.
During his short three-plus seasons as a closer, though, Smoltz saved 154 games.
Perhaps dominant starters make great closers regardless of who they are. Another name you’ll see later in this slideshow, Dennis Eckersley, is a big piece of supporting evidence. Jonathan Papelbon is a contemporary example for you younger readers.
But plenty of pitchers fail at the end of the game regardless of how good they might have been at the beginning of it.
To coin an old cliche, John Smoltz took to the ninth inning like a fish to water. He was simply excellent at closing.
Longevity is a big deal in a list like this, no doubt about it. Sheer dominance and ultimate projectability counts for something too.
And with so many names that could have gone at this spot (and probably would go before Smoltz on many people’s lists) why not reward a guy that was forced into the role and absolutely owned it?
9. Tom Henke
Tom Henke has 311 career saves.
Tom Henke could have had 400 or more had he not inexplicably retired at age 37 after a season of 36 saves and a 1.82 ERA both of which garnered him some MVP votes.
Some of Henke’s other career numbers:
Only 14 seasons played
Perhaps there was a different reason that “The Terminator” hung up the spikes when he did, but for being as dominant as he was while he was in the game, he definitely deserves a spot on this list.
8. John Franco
A very different kind of closer, John Franco was as consistent as they come for a very long time. Call his inclusion on this list a lifetime achievement award if you want to, but 424 saves count the same as the those posted by fireballing, high-strikeout pitchers.
Franco pitched for 21 seasons (though only about 14 or 15 years as a real game-finishing option) and has high totals in the counting stats to show for it. He also has a 2.89 career ERA and a 138 career ERA+.
What he lacked in flash, he more than made up for in substance.
Again, he wasn’t always perfect, but got the job done for a long, long time.
As any pitcher will tell you, those final three outs are different. John Franco handled them as well as anybody for the most part.
7. Lee Smith
802 games finished, 478 career saves (third all-time), 10 seasons of 30+ saves (including three consecutive of 43+ saves) in a career that quite frankly lasted two seasons too long.
A 3.03 career ERA that would have been under 3.00 (2.94) if not for his last two years of bloated run totals.
A seven-time All-Star, Lee was a workhorse closer who averaged 68 appearances per 162 games. He set the bar very high during his career and when he retired he was the all-time leader in both games finished and saves.
6. Billy Wagner
Not many left-handed pitchers in the history of the game have been able to tickle triple-digits on the radar gun.
Billy Wagner is one of those few.
…what? Velocity isn’t enough to be included on this list? Look, I understand that completely. I also understand that you might see Billy Wagner’s name and question his inclusion at all, but this is a case where raw numbers don’t lie.
414 career saves (fifth all time and second only to John Franco’s 424 among lefties), a career ERA of 2.35 (perhaps a tick lower after tonight’s scoreless, three-strikeout inning), 1167 strikeouts in only 886.1 innings pitched, and he’s just one lead-preservation away from his ninth 30+ save season out of 14 as a healthy closer…
Do you get the idea?
Wagner has been very good for a long time. The only negative in all of this (other than the basically wasted 2009 season in which he was mostly recovering from elbow surgery) is that he announced earlier this season that he plans on retiring at the end of 2010.
When you’ve got 29 saves (already), an ERA of 1.74 and 75 strikeouts in 52.2 innings pitched, I think you’ve shown that you’re still quite capable of performing at a high level.
For his sake, if he truly is done at the end of the year, I hope he finds a way to record at least 11 more saves down the stretch. A 40-save season to closer things out and to become the all-time left-handed pitcher career saves leader would be a fitting end to a stellar career.
If he plays for a few more years, however, I simply wonder where he’d end up on this list then.
5. Goose Gossage
Despite only compiling 310 saves during a 22 year career, when Gossage was locked in, there might not have been a closer in the game that hitters feared more during his tenure as a stopper.
In a season (1983) in which he appeared in 57 games (zero starts), finished 47 of them and amassing 22 saves, Gossage also went 13-5.
He may have only saved 30+ games in a season twice (33 in 1980 and 30 in 1982), but sometimes raw totals don’t tell the entire story.
Though his 1981 season which saw a 0.77 ERA and an ERA+ of 465 sure looks pretty, doesn’t it?
Suffice it to say that if I needed a closer for my team in the late 70s and throughout the 80s, there isn’t anybody else I’d have picked first. 13 years of intimidation and results is nothing to shake a stick at.
4. Rollie Fingers
Still the owner of the moustache which all others are measured by (and subsequently fall short of), Rollie Fingers was not your kid’s closer. He was most definitely a different breed than what is commonly referred to as the “modern” closer.
Pitching more than one inning in well over half of his career saves, Fingers could be given the ball at any point of the late-going of a game with a lead, and save or not, you were virtually assured of Fingers being able to finish it off.
Fingers pitched over 1700 innings in 944 games during his 17 year career. Total games started? 37.
Yes, a different breed to be sure, but any less good as a closer? You won’t be able to convince me of that.
3. Dennis Eckersley
Dennis “Eck” Eckersley was a great pitcher throughout his 24 year MLB career.
He was a 20-game winner as a starting pitcher in 1978 with the Cleveland Indians as a 23-year-old. He saved 51 games for the Oakland Athletics in 1992 as a 37-year-old.
In 1990 he allowed fewer baserunners than the number of saves he recorded (48 saves for the record). That’s ridiculous.
Had he been a closer throughout his career, there is even a chance that he challenges for the top spot in this list. He was, after all, one of the first names I knew as a kid.
I don’t remember him as an Indian, Red Sox or (shudder) a Cub. He was always in green and gold first to me and I only knew him as a closer.
Just as a closer, though, despite his excellence, he didn’t do it long enough for him to break into the top two.
2. Trevor Hoffman
Here is where we find Trevor Hoffman.
I battled with myself on this slotting simply because Dennis Eckersley was so good while he was a closer, but Hoffman gets this position on my all-time Top 10 list because he has done it so well for so much longer.
As I sit in front of my laptop, Hoffman is no doubt back in Milwaukee where he will get to relax during a second team off-day in four days. I just watched the replay of him entering a one-run game in the bottom of the ninth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals, a team which has had his number a lot in the last two years, and a team which had already driven in two runs in the inning and reloaded the bases off of current Milwaukee Brewers closer John Axford.
Three pitches, three strikes (two foul balls and a swing-and-miss variety on the third for the K), and another career save.
It was a thing of beauty after the first pitch which was over the heart of the plate but which Brendan Ryan pulled foul. The second was spotted in the low-outside corner of the strikezone. Ryan swung but harmlessly fouled it back. The third was a signature change up down the middle of the plate that Ryan waved at helplessly.
18 seasons, 598 saves (a Major League Baseball record) 847 games finished (another MLB record he holds)…nobody has done it as well for as long as Trevor Hoffman.
1. Mariano Rivera
Despite being second on the all-time saves list, Rivera transcends all others in the category of closer.
His career numbers are incredible and his presence in the back of the Yankees bullpen is a major contributing factor to their dominance.
Rivera’s worst season since becoming the full-time closer in 1997 still saw him amass 30 saves with a 3.15 ERA. That’s nearly a third of a run higher than his next worst season ERA as a closer of 2.85.
A career WHIP of 1.001, a career ERA of 2.21, a career ERA+ of 206, over 1000 strikeouts as a relief pitcher (1004 to be exact as of this writing)…these numbers and plenty of others speak loudly.
So again, while he might not be at the top of the Saves list yet, he currently sits at 550 for his career and has shown few signs of slowing down.
Does the ageless one have two more years in his right arm and cut fastball to surpass whatever Hoffman’s total might end up being? Perhaps he does.
Regardless of the final tally, Rivera wins the title of G.O.A.T. as far as closers are concerned.
By: Big Rygg
It has been a while since I’ve written anything in this space. The reason for that is two-fold.
First, I am the proud parent to a new baby boy (he’s a month old today, as a matter of fact)! Second, the team hasn’t exactly given me much in the way of motivation to sit down and really put forth any concerted effort.
To be fair, in all reality it is the former that has kept me away more than the latter. I can write about my favorite team in the dead of winter when they’re not even playing with no issue. Certainly I have had plenty on my mind during these recent lean days but diapers/bottles/baths/bonding/etc. really chew up my “free” time.
I was going to sit down and write a free-form rant (I even advertised it on my blog’s Twitter account – twitter.com/BrewerNation) but I got busy and calmed down while caring for my little boy that can’t care for himself yet.
That’s kind of a metaphor for the 2010 Milwaukee Brewers so far this year.
I know that the team will tell you that they are maturing and how they don’t want to be seen as the team that other teams love to beat, but if you ask me all they’ve accomplished by toning down their youthful exuberance is rip their own heart out.
They no longer seem to be having fun while playing a fun game. They no longer seem to be enjoying their days at the ballpark which is an enjoyable place. They no longer seem to have that swagger that carried them to a 90-72 record and a post-season playoff berth WAY back in 2008.
Yeah…2008. Remember when CC Sabathia couldn’t be stopped and this team was having fun all summer long? It doesn’t seem that long ago when you think about it outside of sports, but in Major League Baseball so much can change in two short years.
I could list things like that they’ve had three managers since then, or that they’ve burned through four pitching coaches but the main thing that’s changed from 2008 to 2010 isn’t tangible like that.
It’s the fun.
Let me break it down to you this way. They say that a group takes on the personality and characteristics of its leader. But has there ever been a seemingly more mismatched pairing than Ken Macha and the majority of this Brewers roster?
Macha is admittedly old school. Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot about old school baseball. I like (most of) the unwritten rules. I like drilling a guy for showing up the game. I like a good old-fashioned bench-clearing brawl.
The players, and perhaps it’s mostly as a by-product of their median age, is decidedly new school in a lot a ways. The earthquake celebration against San Francisco, Braun and Fielder’s boxing celebration after home runs, the untucking of their jerseys after victories…it all is about having fun.
They never were trying to show anybody up. They were simply trying to enjoy each other and each other’s successes on the field.
But apparently somebody got in the ears of the clubhouse leaders over the off-season and planted a distinctive “knock it off” somewhere in there.
Sure, Braun and Fielder still celebrate home runs and now Fielder and McGehee have even developed a little foot shake routine. And yes, if they were still untucking their jerseys with a 16-26 record, it might seem a touch out of place.
My argument, though, is that once this team stopped having fun this team stopped playing loose. They’ve been uptight, trying to be to too perfect (I’m looking at you, pitching staff) and generally almost seem to be playing scared.
Not that they’re afraid of the ball or anything, but they’ve got “What’s going to go wrong tonight?” syndrome.
When you arrive at the ballpark and expect to lose, you generally lose. I’m not saying that any players have told me that they feel this way, or that I’ve heard any of them say it or even imply it. It’s just my feeling as a very interested observer.
Maybe getting Trevor Hoffman fixed will be the spark that this team needs. It can’t be easy when the innings are getting late and you don’t have at least a four-run lead. Hoffman was so maddeningly inconsistent that you almost had to assume failure and be pleasantly surprised if he came through.
Maybe getting healthy will provide the boost that this team needs. When your Opening Day centerfielder and rightfielder have missed time and 40% of your starting rotation has replaced due to injury or ineffectiveness and your setup man is on the DL and now your starting catcher will miss at least two weeks…
Then again, maybe simply getting a few wins will be the ointment that heals the wounds of so many losses.
If you win, maybe you loosen up. If you loosen up, maybe you win some more. If you win some more, maybe you stay loose and go on a run.
So the question becomes: How do you win to start that chain of probabilities?
My answer to that question sounds simple. In fact, it sounds so simple that one might wonder why it isn’t already happening. It sounds so simple that one might question why it was ever abandoned in the first place.
That answer to the Milwaukee Brewers? Find a way to enjoy the game again.
Untuck those jerseys, watch a few home runs a little too long, pump your fist when you strike out a guy in a key situation on defense, hoot and holler and get the other guy’s dander up, put a target on your back again if you must.
In short…just relax and be yourselves.
You might find out that it’s what’s been missing this whole time.
By: Big Rygg
The day was Monday, May 3rd. The Milwaukee Brewers were taking a much needed day off. After scoring all of two runs in the previous four games (three of them were shutouts), a more timely day off there may not be all season.
In Los Angeles, Ryan Braun’s stomping grounds and home to team owner Mark Attanasio, the Milwaukee Brewers got away from baseball and got their heads straightened back out.
Tuesday night saw the start of a series against the Dodgers. It also saw the first of back-to-back 11 run outputs by the offense. The first night they needed more of the 11 than they did the next night, but even still both games wre wins for Milwaukee and suddenly they had won three of four.
Before the team could feel comfortable, though, they put up only three runs in the third game despite having a chance to sweep the Dodgers for the first time in franchise history. That game was lost in the bottom of the ninth inning when LaTroy Hawkins couldn’t get the game to extra innings. He loaded the bases and succumbed to the moxie of Andre “All I Do Is Walk Off” Ethier to the tune of a grand slam. (Hawkins would land on the disabled list two days later with shoulder weakness.)
The Brewers headed for Arizona and Chase Field with a 3-4 mark on the roadtrip to that point.
So what happened after a three-run losing effort from the offense? How about a three-run winning effort complete with Trevor Hoffman’s second save on the trip, his 596th career save? Yovani Gallardo (winning pitcher in the only victory in San Diego) threw another dominant start by striking out 10 Diamondbacks in just five innings.
Thinking that perhaps another pitching duel was on tap, Randy Wolf took the hill in Arizona where he had won six starts in a row in visitors’ uniforms. History would be kind to Wolf on this day.
Wolf started off rocky, letting the D’backs plate two in the first inning, but settled down after that. His demeanor no doubt helped by his team going on a 12-0 run.
Yup. Twelve, zero.
The Brewers finished off the game with five more players touching home plate safely after Wolf gave up a solo home run to Mark Reynolds.
And the last of those runs? Plated when Jody Gerut finished off hitting for the cycle with an RBI double in the ninth. It was only the sixth cycle in Brewers history and the first since Chad Moeller accomplished the feat in 2004.
So to that point, after getting shut out three times in four games, the Brewers put up run totals of 11, 11, and 17 around winning four out of five and having somebody hit for the cycle.
To top off the week, Chris Narveson went out and spun yet another near-quality start, but very good start nonetheless and Prince Fielder hit another home run which is always a good sign.
Narveson struck out eight in 5.2 innings pitched before giving way to Todd Coffey to get out of a jam. Coffey got himself into a jam and was rescued by the freshly recalled Mitch Stetter. The bullpen threw up zeroes the rest of the way (despite Jeff Suppan loading the bases in the bottom of the ninth) and the Brewers head back to Milwaukee owners of a 6-4 mark on this 10-game road trip out west.
So let’s recap this recap, shall we?
Brewers head to San Diego after a brief and rough homestand. They get shut out in consecutive games before Gallardo plays the role of stopper in game three. They promptly get shut out again before leaving San Diego.
The knock Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw out of his start in under three innings and rough up teammate Chad Billingsley as well while putting up consecutive 11-run games. They lose game three in L.A. on a walk-off grand slam. Demoralizing.
In Arizona, the Brewers sweep their gracious hosts and score a total of 26 runs in the three-game set.
What a week.
Then again, that seems to be this team’s M.O. so far this year. As skipper Ken Macha said this week: “Get on the rollercoaster.”
It should be a fun, if frustrating, ride this season with this team.
Yeah, that’s quite the week that nobody saw coming.
By: Big Rygg
Take a second and look at the picture that accompanies this article.
Knowing that Trevor Hoffman is the all-time career saves leader in Major League Baseball history, how do you deal with that stare slicing through you in the ninth inning when your team is down?
Gives you chills, doesn’t it?
I start this article with the end of the game today (as I start writing at least). Well, to be fair, I’ll start just after the game ended.
It was then that a member of the Milwaukee Brewers staff peeled off of a “2” to reveal a “3”. The two places preceding the ones column? A “5” and “9”. It is the in-stadium visual counter of Hoffman’s career saves total as he marches toward 600.
Nestled on the scoreboard’s support out past the left-center gap, it tells everyone that enters the stadium just who will be coming out of the bullpen door after the stadium boards go dark…as if the Bells weren’t enough notification.
Tuesday night saw the precursor to Wednesday afternoon’s revealing. After all, to get to 593, you first have to get to 592.
Hoffman pitched a perfect inning on Wednesday to get the save. He had to as the Brewers only took a one-run lead into the ninth. Tuesday was not quite the same as Hoffman was touched up for a run before locking down the Colorado Rockies.
Hoffman didn’t give up a run until his nineteenth appearance in 2009. That followed nearly a month on the disabled list with Hoffman finally recording his first save of that season on April 28 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Something tells me he doesn’t mind Tuesday’s one run so much since the results of his efforts were two wins.
But I suppose that you could ask him yourself if you’re within shouting distance of him. I just recommend being somewhere other than 60 feet and six inches away.
By: Big Rygg
When Trevor Hoffman signed with the Milwaukee Brewers prior to the 2009 season, there were some people out there that actually weren’t excited about it.
Hoffman is Major League Baseball’s all-time saves leader, a sure-fire Hall of Fame member and one of the best closers of all time if not the best. After the debacle that the Eric Gagne signing turned out to be…shouldn’t it have been sheer relief if nothing else from the fan base?
Even still, there were skeptics. Hoffman had no problem proving those people wrong.
He started out 2009 on the disabled list due to a strained oblique muscle suffered during Spring Training. It cost Hoffman about a month of the regular season but the patience to wait until he was fully healthy paid off in that Hoffman suffered no setbacks during the season.
Following his first appearance as a Brewer on April 27th, Hoffman put together a sparkling season. He didn’t give up a run until June 14th. He saved 37 games. He ended the year with a 3-2 record, a 1.83 ERA, and his 7th career All-Star appearance.
Hoffman had only signed a one-year deal for 2009 though. The 2010 season began taking shape shortly after the end of the 2009 season when Doug Melvin took care of Hoffman to the tune of a one-year deal with an option for 2011.
Hoffman had one of the best seasons of his career in his first as a Brewer. He plans on reaching 600 wins, a milestone that the city of Milwaukee will appreciate greatly. He’ll have plenty of opportunity to reach the milestone to be sure. Milwaukee affords plenty of close games as a rule.
Suffice it to say, the closer is one of the handful of positions that are absolutely taken care of for 2010.
Hell’s Bells will ring out loud and proud in Miller Park again next season and Brewers fans will be more than happy to partake in the festivities again.
By: Big Rygg
Here is my 25-man roster (complete with starters, batting order, rotation and bullpen assignments). We will be recording a podcast in the semi-near future to no doubt dissect this (and surely Cary will disagree with a few choices).
This roster was constructed with an eye on best players at positions, but also with an eye on making what could be a legitimate 25-man roster with capable bench players and not all closers in the bullpen, etc.
First will be the roster listed alphabetically by position with starters marked with an asterisk.
SP (5) – Jeff D’Amico, Doug Davis, Yovani Gallardo, CC Sabathia, Ben Sheets
RP (7) – Todd Coffey, Francisco Cordero, Chad Fox, Trevor Hoffman, Curt Leskanic, Brian Shouse, Bob Wickman
C (2) – Henry Blanco, Damian Miller*
INF (6) – Ryan Braun*, Russell Branyan, Craig Counsell, Prince Fielder*, Bill Hall*, Jose Hernandez*
OF (5) – Corey Hart, Geoff Jenkins*, Gabe Kapler, Carlos Lee*, Scott Podsednik*
My rotation shakes out as follows:
1 – Ben Sheets (as a nod to his longevity with the team)
2 – CC Sabathia (he was that dominant in his short stint)
3 – Yovani Gallardo (future ace would make an amazing #3 on this team)
4 – Doug Davis (long tenure, LHP, consistent numbers)
5 – Jeff D’Amico (very solid statistics despite only 33 starts with the Brewers)
The bullpen stacks up like this:
Closer – Trevor Hoffman (yes, only one season but an amazing season as closer)
Set up – Francisco Cordero (flame-thrower, closing experience in the 8th inning)
LOOGy – Brian Shouse (of top three including Mitch Stetter and Ray King, Shouse was best and most consistent)
Others in the bullpen would share back-up 8th inning and the short work
And for my batting order…
CF – Scott Podsednik
SS – Jose Hernandez
3B – Ryan Braun
1B – Prince Fielder
LF – Carlos Lee
RF – Geoff Jenkins
2B – Bill Hall
C – Damian Miller
I am more than happy to explain my selections for this roster and I will…on the podcast. Be sure to download it when you see the post telling you that it’s there.
Happy New Year. Happy New Decade.
How about a couple or several division championships this decade?