MLB Top 5: Milwaukee Brewers Corner Infielders and DHs

This is the second article in a series that looks at the five best players at each position for the Milwaukee Brewers. In this installment are first and third basemen and designated hitters.

Unlike other teams, the Milwaukee Brewers have distinctions between their corner infield positions. The first basemen are almost exclusively power hitters while those across the diamond at third base are better contact hitters. The franchise moved to the National League in 1998, so they can’t boast the history of designated hitters like other longtime American League teams.

The Best First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters in Milwaukee Brewers History

First Basemen

Honorable Mentions – Greg Brock was a solid contact hitter and defender who played 517 games over five seasons with the Brewers (1987-91). His best season was his first, when he hit 13 home runs and set career highs with a .299 average, 81 runs, 159 hits and 85 runs batted in.

Lyle Overbay played in the 2002 MLB Futures Game with the Diamondbacks and was sent to the Brewers as part of a nine-player trade involving another player on this list. In his first year with Milwaukee, Overbay batted .301 with 16 home runs, 87 runs batted in and a league-leading 53 doubles, which tied the team record. He was traded to Toronto in 2005 and spent time with four other teams before returning to Milwaukee for one final season (2004-05, ’14).

5. John Jaha – This slugging first baseman topped 20 home runs twice in seven seasons with the Brewers (1992-98) while also producing high walk and strikeout totals. Although he wasn’t an All-Star until after leaving Milwaukee, Jaha had his best season in 1996, when he batted .300, hit 34 home runs and set career bests with 108 runs, 163 hits and 188 runs batted in.

Overall, Jaha batted .268 with 361 runs, 583 hits, 105 home runs, 366 RBIs and 1,007 total bases in 639 games. He signed with Oakland, where he spent his final three seasons and earned his only All-Star selection in 1999.

4. Richie Sexson – He came to the Brewers in a trade with the Indians and posted a .270-25-100 stat line in three straight years. Sexson smashed 45 home runs twice, which are tied for the third-best single-season marks in franchise history. He drove in a career-high 125 runs in 2001, which is also tied for the third-highest Brewers total.

During his four seasons in Milwaukee (2000-03), Sexson was a two-time All-Star and led National League first basemen in putouts in 2001. He batted .276 with 321 runs, 549 hits, 103 doubles, 133 home runs, 398 RBIs and 1,065 total bases in 534 games. The Brewers sent Sexson to the Diamondbacks in the 2003 trade that brought Overbay to Milwaukee. He also played with the Mariners and Yankees before retiring in 2008 with 306 career homers.

3. George Scott – Along with hitting 20 home runs in three of his five seasons with the Brewers (1972-76), he was a top-notch defender, winning the gold glove each campaign with Milwaukee. Scott came to the Brewers in a 10-player trade with the Red Sox and was traded back to Boston in a deal involving another player on this list. He appeared in the 1967 World Series loss to the Cardinals.

“Boomer” had his best season with Milwaukee in 1975, when he earned his only All-Star selection with the club and finished in the top 10 in the MVP voting after batting .285 and leading the league with 36 home runs, 109 runs batted in and 318 total bases. He finished his Brewers career batting .283 with 402 runs, 851 hits, 137 doubles, 115 home runs, 463 RBIs and 1,371 total bases in 782 games. After going back to Boston, Scott played two seasons with the Red Sox and split 1979 between three teams before he retired.

2. Prince Fielder – Another prodigious power hitter, the son of Cecil bashed at least 25 home runs in six of seven seasons in a Brewers uniform (2005-11) and drove in more than 100 runs four times. The three-time All-Star also won two silver sluggers, played in the 2004 MVP Futures Game, won the 2007 Hank Aaron Award and took home two All-Star Home Run Derby titles.

Fielder finished third in the MVP voting after leading the league and setting a club record with 50 homers in 2007. Two years later, he placed fourth in the MVP race after topping the league and franchise lists with 141 runs batted in, and he tied for second in team history with 356 total bases.

During his run with Milwaukee, Fielder batted .282 with 996 hits and 200 doubles in 998 games. He is the all-time franchise leader in on-base percentage (.390) and slugging percentage (.540), and he ranks third in home runs (230), fourth in walks (566), seventh in RBIs (656), eighth in total bases (1,904) and strikeouts (779) and ninth in runs (571). In 15 playoff games, he totaled seven runs, 10 hits, four doubles, four homers and eight RBIs.

Fielder had two more power-laden seasons with the Tigers, missed most of 2014 with the Rangers after neck surgery, won the Comeback Player of the Year Award the following season and ended his career in 2016 with 319 home runs, the exact same number as his father (although Prince topped his dad by 20 RBIs).

1. Cecil Cooper – He is one of many stars from the 1982 World Series team that will appear on these lists. After playing six seasons in Boston, Cooper was traded to Milwaukee for Scott and Bernie Carbo in December 1976. He earned five All-Star selections, three silver sluggers and two gold gloves during his 11-year run with the Brewers (1977-87).

Cooper topped the 20-homer mark five times and drove in at least 100 runs four times during his tenure with the “Brew Crew,” and he led the league in doubles and RBIs twice each. Despite being overshadowed by future Hall of Famers Rod Carew and George Brett in the batting average category, Cooper began his Brewers career by hitting .300 or better for seven straight years.

The lefty is the only player in team history to amass 200 or more hits in three seasons, and his 219 in 1980 is a franchise record. That year, his career-high .352 average and league-leading 122 RBIs both are the second-best single-season marks for the team.

“Mr. Steady” ranks third in franchise history in batting average (.302) and RBIs (944), fourth in runs (821), hits (1,815), doubles (345) and total bases (2,829), fifth in games (1,490), sixth in home runs (201) and tied for sixth in triples (33). In 17 postseason games, he amassed five runs, 15 hits, three doubles, one home run and 13 RBIs. He totaled eight hits and six RBIs during the 1982 World Series loss to the Cardinals.

Cooper finished fifth in the MVP voting three times, led American League first basemen in double plays four times, topped the circuit in putouts and assists twice each, won the fielding title in 1980 and took home the Roberto Clemente Award in 1983. After his retirement, he was a farm director and coach for the Brewers and managed the Astros to a 171-170 record in parts of three seasons (2007-09).

Third Basemen

Honorable Mentions – Tommy Harper will be one of the few Pilots to appear on these lists. After spending his first six seasons with the Reds, he was Seattle’s second pick in the expansion draft. Although he batted just .235, Harper was a terror once he got on base. He led the league with 73 stolen bases, a mark that still tops the franchise list.

The following year, Harper earned his only All-Star selection after setting career highs with a .296 average, 31 home runs and 82 runs batted in. He lasted just three seasons with the franchise (1969-71) before being sent to Boston in the trade that brought first baseman George Scott to Milwaukee. Harper ranks sixth in franchise history with 136 steals, and he totaled 408 in his 15-year career.

Travis Shaw went the other direction, going from the Red Sox to the Brewers in late 2016, then hitting 30 home runs in his first two seasons with Milwaukee. His best year was 2017, when he hit 31 home runs and set career highs with a .273 average and 101 runs batted in. Shaw’s power numbers took a dive after that, hitting only 22 in his final four seasons before he retired in early 2023 (2017-19 and ’21).

5. Kevin Seitzer – He was an All-Star and the Rookie of the Year runner-up after leading the league with 207 hits for the Royals in 1987. Seitzer spent five years with the Brewers (1992 and 93-96), earning another All-Star selection after batting .311 and driving in 69 runs in 1995. He won a fielding title in 1992, hit .300 or better three times with Milwaukee and ended his career with one at-bat for Cleveland in the 1997 World Series.

4. Aramis Ramirez – He joined the Brewers near the end of an 18-year career when his skills slowly began to decline. Ramirez finished in the top 10 of the MVP voting in his first year with Milwaukee after posting a .300-27-105 stat line, leading the league and setting a career-high with 50 doubles in 2012 (third-most in team history) and winning a fielding title. Two years later, he was selected as an All-Star for the third and final time.

Ramirez appeared in two MLB Futures Games with the Pirates and won the Hank Aaron Award win 2008 with the Cubs. He also had three home runs and drove in seven runs in Chicago’s loss to Florida in the infamous 2003 World Series. Ramirez had 467 hits in 455 games over four seasons with the Brewers (2012-15), and he is tied for tenth in franchise history with a .284 average.

3. Jeff Cirillo – An 11th-round pick, he spent his first six seasons with the Brewers, earning an All-Star selection in 1997. Cirillo had four straight years with at least 160 hits, batted .300 or better in four seasons and drove in more than 80 runs three times. He was traded to the Rockies as part of a three-team deal after the 1999 season and spent time with the Mariners and Padres before coming back to the Brewers in 2005.

Cirillo tops Milwaukee’s all-time list with a .307 average and he ranks seventh in franchise history with 317 doubles. He also had 506 runs, 1,000 hits, 73 home runs, 418 RBIs and 1,462 total bases in 978 games. Cirillo was also solid in the field, placing as the league’s top third baseman in double plays three times, as well as putouts and assists twice each. He split 2007 between the Twins and Diamondbacks and ended his career by going 2-for-5 in the series loss to the Rockies in the NLCS.

2. Don Money – He began his career with the Phillies but was traded to the Brewers to make room for Mike Schmidt in Philadelphia. Money spent the next 11 seasons in Milwaukee (1973-83), earning four All-Star selections and reaching 150 hits four times. His best season at the plate was 1977, when he hit .279 with career-high totals of 25 home runs and 83 runs batted in.

Money was a versatile contact hitter, starting at all infield positions plus left field and designated hitter and batting leadoff. He also set several fielding records during his time with the Brewers. In 1974, Money had 86 consecutive errorless games and made just five errors all season, and his .9894 fielding percentage was a record by a third baseman (broken by Tony Fernandez and his .991 mark 20 years later). As a second baseman in 1977, he tied a record for the position with 12 assists in a game.

Although Money was an excellent fielder, he was overshadowed by Brooks Robinson in Baltimore and never won a gold glove. However, he won two fielding titles and fans in Milwaukee nicknamed him “Brooks.” Money was bit by the injury bug in his final five seasons, ending his Brewers tenure batting .270 with 134 home runs and 529 runs batted in. He ranked seventh in franchise history in games (1,196) and hits (1,168), eighth in runs (596) and doubles (215) and ninth in total bases (1,825).

Money played in Japan in 1984, but the language barrier proved to be too much, and he left after 29 games. He coached baseball in high school and later in the Brewers’ minor league system before ending his tenure in the sport as a traveling special instructor.

1. Paul Molitor – Like Money, he was versatile and started at eight positions during his 15-year Brewers tenure (1978-92). Molitor began as a second baseman, then started one year in center field before moving to third base, where he spent most of his Milwaukee career. In the seven seasons he patrolled the “hot corner,” he was selected to a pair of All-Star Games and earned a silver slugger in 1988, when he batted .312 with 115 runs, 190 hits, 13 home runs, 60 runs batted in and 41 stolen bases.

Overall, Molitor had 150 or more hits nine times, batted .300 or better eight times, scored 100 or more runs and stole at least 40 bases four times each. He led the league in runs scored three times, plus doubles, triples and hits once apiece, with his 216 in 1991 ranking second in franchise history. Molitor also holds the top two spots on the team’s single-season triples lists, with a club-record 16 in 1979 and 13 in 1991. He holds the same distinction in the runs category, with his 136 in 1982 being the most in team history and 133 in 1991 ranking second.

“The Ignitor” earned five All-Star selections, two silver sluggers and the 1987 Hutch Award. He is the all-time franchise leader in stolen bases (412) and ranks second in games (1,856), runs (1,275), hits (2,281), triples (86), average (.303) and walks (755), third in doubles (405) and total bases (3,338), fourth in RBIs (790), sixth in strikeouts (882) and tenth in home runs (160). In addition, he set a franchise record with a 39-game hitting streak in 1987.

As good as Molitor was in the regular season, his postseason might be even better. In 17 playoff games with the Brewers, he had 11 runs, 22 hits, three home runs and nine RBIs, and he was the first person to get five hits in a World Series game (which he did in Game 1 against the Cardinals). After signing with the Blue Jays in 1993, he finished second in the MVP voting then earned the World Series MVP Award after batting .458 (11-for-24) with 10 runs, two homers and seven RBIs against the Phillies.

Molitor spent his final three years with the Twins before retiring in 1998 after amassing 3,319 hits in 21 seasons. He joined Robin Yount as the second player who spent the majority of his career with the Brewers to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame when he did so in his first year of eligibility in 2004. Molitor posted a 305-343 record in four seasons as manager of the Twins, winning the Manager of the Year Award after leading Minnesota to the playoffs in 2017, one year after the club finished last in all of baseball with a 59-103 record.

Designated Hitters

Honorable Mentions – Throughout their history, the Brewers have used the designated hitter position mostly to give position players the day off rather than putting someone there on a permanent basis. The list of starting DHs is long, but few have had success. There are players such as Dick Davis and Roy Howell, who had moderate success, as well as Ted Simmons and Kevin Seitzer, who started mostly at other positions.

One of the stranger cases of the Brewers’ limited success at the position, look no further than Joey Meyer, who had plenty of power and potential, but could not put it together at the major league level. As a member of Milwaukee’s Triple-A club, the Denver Zephyrs, Meyer hit a 582-foot home run at Mile High Stadium. The blast was the longest accurately measured homer in baseball history and one of 29 he hit that year. However, Meyer could not replicate the power numbers in Milwaukee, hitting just 18 home runs in 156 games over two seasons. After a forgettable season in Japan in 1990, he spent the following year in the Pirates’ minor league system before suffering a career-ending broken wrist.

Hank Aaron was traded to the Brewers after the 1974 season and ended his illustrious major league career in the city where it began 21 years prior. While he set more than his share of baseball records in Atlanta, the longtime home run king reached his memorable total of 755 while in a Brewers uniform. Aaron earned his 25th and final All-Star selection with Milwaukee in 1975 and hit 10 more home runs the following year, including his final one on July 26 against Angels starter Dick Drago at County Stadium (although the ball he hit became the center of a controversy for years). Aaron retired at the end of the season and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.

1. Paul Molitor – He spent three seasons as Milwaukee’s designated hitter (1987 and 91-92), with the last two as the primary starter. Molitor finished fifth in the MVP voting after hitting a career-best .353 and leading the league with 114 runs and 41 doubles in 1987, and he topped the circuit with 133 runs, 216 hits and 13 triples four years later. In 1992, he batted .320 with 195 hits and 89 runs batted in, his most as a Brewer. Molitor joined the Blue Jays the following year and was the MVP of the team’s victory in the World Series.

Upcoming Stories

Milwaukee Brewers Catchers and Managers
Milwaukee Brewers First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Milwaukee Brewers Second Basemen and Shortstops – coming soon
Milwaukee Brewers Outfielders – coming soon
Milwaukee Brewers Pitchers – coming soon

Previous Series

A look back at the Miami Marlins

Miami Marlins Catchers and Managers
Miami Marlins First and Third Basemen
Miami Marlins Second Basemen and Shortstops
Miami Marlins Outfielders
Miami Marlins Pitchers

A look back at the Los Angeles Dodgers

A look back at the Los Angeles Angels

Los Angeles Angels Catchers and Managers
Los Angeles Angels First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Los Angeles Angels Second Basemen and Shortstops
Los Angeles Angels Outfielders
Los Angeles Angels Pitchers

A look back at the Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals Catchers and Managers
Kansas City Royals First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Kansas City Royals Second Basemen and Shortstops
Kansas City Royals Outfielders
Kansas City Royals Pitchers

A look back at the Houston Astros

Houston Astros Catchers and Managers
Houston Astros First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Houston Astros Second Basemen and Shortstops
Houston Astros Outfielders
Houston Astros Pitchers

A look back at the Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers Catchers and Managers
Detroit Tigers First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Detroit Tigers Second Basemen and Shortstops
Detroit Tigers Outfielders
Detroit Tigers Pitchers

A look back at the Colorado Rockies

Colorado Rockies Catchers and Managers
Colorado Rockies First and Third Basemen
Colorado Rockies Second Basemen and Shortstops
Colorado Rockies Outfielders
Colorado Rockies Pitchers

A look back at the Cleveland Guardians

Cleveland Guardians Catchers and Managers
Cleveland Guardians First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Cleveland Guardians Second Basemen and Shortstops
Cleveland Guardians Outfielders
Cleveland Guardians Pitchers

A look back at the Cincinnati Reds

A look back at the Chicago White Sox

Chicago Cubs Catchers and Managers
Chicago Cubs First and Third Basemen
Chicago Cubs Second Basemen and Shortstops
Chicago Cubs Outfielders
Chicago Cubs Pitchers

A look back at the Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox Catchers and Managers
Boston Red Sox First and Third Basemen
Boston Red Sox Second Basemen and Shortstops
Boston Red Sox Outfielders and Designated Hitters
Boston Red Sox Pitchers

A look back at the Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles Catchers and Managers
Baltimore Orioles First and Third Basemen
Baltimore Orioles Second Basemen and Shortstops
Baltimore Orioles Outfielders and Designated Hitters
Baltimore Orioles Pitchers

A look back at the Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves Catchers and Managers
Atlanta Braves First and Third Basemen
Atlanta Braves Second Basemen and Shortstops
Atlanta Braves Outfielders
Atlanta Braves Pitchers

A look back at the Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamondbacks Catchers and Managers
Arizona Diamondbacks First and Third Basemen
Arizona Diamondbacks Second Basemen and Shortstops
Arizona Diamondbacks Outfielders
Arizona Diamondbacks Pitchers

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