This is the third article in a series that looks at the five best players at each position for the Milwaukee Brewers. In this installment are second basemen and shortstops.
The list of best Brewers middle infielders has more than its fair share of timely hitting, speed, and defense. Among the top players are two Hall of Famers who also starred at other positions and a second baseman who was the “heart and soul” of the 1982 World Series team.
The Best Second Basemen and Shortstops in Milwaukee Brewers History
Honorable Mentions – Ryan “Scooter” Gennett appeared in the 2012 MLB Futures Game and spent his first four years at second base with the Brewers (2013-16). Nicknamed after a Muppets character, he batted .279 with 426 hits in 456 games but found his greatest success after leaving Milwaukee. The Reds acquired Gennett off waivers before the 2017 season and he became the 17th player in baseball history to hit four home runs in a game when he also drove in 10 runs against the Cardinals on June 6. He made the All-Star team the following year and split the 2019 season between Cincinnati and San Francisco before retiring.
Jonathan Villar spent parts of three seasons with Milwaukee (2016-18), playing 365 games with the team. The highlight was Villar’s first season when he stole 62 bases, which led the National League and is the third-most in team history. He also posted career highs with a .285 average and 38 doubles. Villar was sent to the Orioles in the 2018 trade for infielder Jonathan Schoop, and he has played for seven other teams besides the Brewers during his 10-year career. He spent the 2023 seasons with Algodoneros de Unión Laguna of the Mexican League.
5. Ronnie Belliard – After a brief call-up, he became the starter and spent five seasons in Milwaukee (1998-2002). Belliard’s best season was his first as a full-time Brewer when he hit a career-best .295 with 58 runs batted in. He also led National League second basemen in putouts and double plays in 2000. After leaving the Brewers, Belliard earned an All-Star selection with the Indians in 2004 and won a title with the Cardinals two years later.
4. Fernando Viña – He personified the speed and defense type of player who started in the middle infield throughout Brewers’ history. Viña spent five seasons in Milwaukee (1995-99), joining in another player in this article to form a pairing that led the league in double plays twice. He was an All-Star in 1998, when he drove in 45 runs set career highs with a .311 average, 101 runs, 198 hits, 39 doubles and 22 stolen bases. Viña ranks eighth in franchise history in average (.286) and ninth in triples (26, including 10 in 1996), and he also had 295 runs, 559 hits, 164 RBIs and 57 steals in 528 games. He won two gold gloves and played in the NLCS twice after leaving the Brewers for the Cardinals.
3. Paul Molitor – While he was known mostly as a third baseman and later a designated hitter during his time in Milwaukee, he began his career as a second baseman and spent four years at the keystone position (1978-80 and ’90), the first three as the primary starter. The third overall pick in the 1977 draft was the runner-up in the Rookie of the Year voting the following year after batting .273 with 45 runs batted in and 30 stolen bases. He had a .322 average, 188 hits, 62 RBIs and 33 steals in 1979 and made his first All-Star team after posting a .304 average and 34 stolen bases in 1980. A decade later, he played 60 of his 103 games at the position, although another player on this list was the primary starter that year.
2. Rickie Weeks – Other than the player at the next spot, Weeks had the longest tenure at the position, spending 11 years with the Brewers (2003 and 05-14). Following a brief call-up and a year and a half in the minors (including an appearance in the 2004 MLB Futures Game), he joined the club near the midway point of the 2005 season. His best season was 2010, when he set career highs with 112 runs, 175 hits, 32 doubles, 29 home runs, 83 runs batted in, and 302 total bases, and he led the league in putouts by a second baseman.
Weeks earned his only All-Star selection the following year, when he hit 20 home runs, a mark he reached three times in his career. He had 1,009 hits, 148 home runs and 430 RBIs, and he also ranks fourth in franchise history in strikeouts (1,102), sixth in runs (684) and walks (492), seventh in stolen bases (126), eighth in triples (32) and tenth in games (1,142), doubles (203) and total bases (1,720).
Weeks had five runs, five hits, two homers and three RBIs in the 2011 NLCS loss to the Cardinals, and he appeared in 14 postseason games overall. He played one year each with Seattle, Arizona and Tampa Bay and retired following the 2017 season.
1. Jim Gantner – He began his career at third base before switching spots with Molitor in 1981. Gantner became one of the most popular players in team history over the course of his 17-year career (1976-92) spent entirely with Milwaukee. He formed a solid double-play tandem with Robin Yount and led American League second basemen in putouts and double plays twice each. At the plate, “Gumby” was a reliable contact hitter who batted .292 with career-high totals of 85 runs and 74 RBIs in 1983.
Gantner ranks third in franchise history in games played (1,801), fifth in runs (726), hits (1,696), triples (38) and stolen bases (137), sixth in doubles (262) and total bases (2,175) and ninth in RBIs (568). He was also solid in the playoffs, totaling seven runs, 13 hits, five doubles and six RBIs in 16 postseason contests.
Gantner’s greatest moment may have been sliding home with the go-ahead run in the seventh inning of Game 5 of the 1982 ALCS. The Brewers were trailing when Cecil Cooper‘s two-out hit scored Charlie Moore and Gantner for a 4-3 lead. The score held and Milwaukee became the first team to win a five-game series after losing the first two. In the World Series loss to the Cardinals, he had five runs, eight hits, four doubles and four RBIs in seven games.
The second baseman suffered multiple knee injuries as a result of takeout slides at second base, including one that cost him nearly half the 1990 season. Gantner suffered a torn rotator cuff that forced him to retire officially in 1994. He worked as a team ambassador and coach after his playing career.
Honorable Mentions – Dale Sveum spent five seasons with the Brewers (1986-88 and 90-91) and started by playing 96 games as a rookie mostly at third base. He moved one spot to his left in 1987 and set career highs with 86 runs, 25 home runs and 95 runs batted in. Sveum brought some heroics to the game on April 19, hitting a two-out, two-run game-winning home run against the Rangers that extended the Brewers’ season-opening winning streak to 12 games. They would win one more and eventually tie for the best start in American League history with a 20-3 mark.
Sveum suffered a broken leg that caused him to miss then entire 1989 season, and he never regained his prior form. He spent time with six other teams before retiring in 1999 and turning to coaching. Sveum coached in the Pittsburgh, Boston, Milwaukee and Kansas City systems and went 7-5 after replacing Ned Yost as Brewers manager at the end of the 2008 season. He also managed the Cubs for two years, amassing a 127-197 record, and finished his career as Royals hitting coach in 2019.
Jose Hernandez came to the Brewers after appearing in the 1999 World Series with the Braves, and he played just seasons in Milwaukee (2000-02). His best season was his last, when was selected to his only All-Star team after setting career highs with a .288 average and 151 hits and adding 24 home runs and 73 runs batted in. Hernandez led the league in strikeouts twice as a Brewer and his 188 in 2002 are the second-most in franchise history. He played for nine teams during a 15-year career before retiring in 2007. Hernandez has been a coach in the Baltimore Orioles system since 2010.
Orlando Arcia spent six seasons with Milwaukee (2016-21), amassing 422 hits, 42 home runs and 180 RBIs in 542 games. The 2015 MLB Futures Game participant led all National League shortstops in putouts, assists and double plays in 2017. Arcia was traded to the Braves a week into the 2021 season, won a title that year with Atlanta and earned his first All-Star selection after posting a .264-17-65 stat line in 2023.
5. Pat Listach – He spent five of his six major league seasons with the Brewers (1992-96), but his best season was his first. Listach won the Rookie of the Year Award after setting career highs with a .290 average, 93 runs, 168 hits, 47 runs batted in a 54 stolen bases, which is the fourth-best single season total in team history. His numbers declined over his remaining years in Milwaukee and a trade to the Yankees had to be reworked without him after it was found that he had a broken bone in his foot.
Instead, Listach was sent to the Astros and after once season, he played in the minors in 1999 before retiring. He started coaching in 2005 and has held several coach, manager and coordinator positions in the Cubs, Nationals, Dodgers, Astros and Mariners systems. Listach spent two seasons managing in Mexico and served as the manager of Philadelphia’s High-A affiliate, the Jersey Shore BlueClaws.
4. Jean Segura – He was a 2012 MLB Futures Game participant with the Angels and was sent to the Brewers in the trade for Zack Greinke later that year. Segura spent parts of four seasons with Milwaukee (2012-15), earning his first All-Star selection in 2013 after batting .294 with 173 hits, 12 home runs, 49 RBIs and career-high totals of 10 triples and 44 stolen bases.
Segura was traded to Arizona in 2016 and that season, he led the league with 206 hits and scored a career-best 102 runs. “El Mambo” earned his only other All-Star selection to date with the Mariners in 2018, appeared in the 2022 World Series with the Phillies and played in 85 games with the Marlins this past season.
3. J.J. Hardy – The 2003 MLB Futures Game participant played five seasons with the Brewers (2005-09), reaching 20 home runs twice and earning an All-Star selection in 2007. That year, he batted .277 with 26 home runs and 80 RBIs, and he belted 24 more homers the following season. Hardy totaled 395 runs, 854 hits, 168 doubles, 107 home runs, 385 RBIs and 1,349 total bases in 889 games. He batted .429 (6-for-14) with two runs and two RBIs in a loss to the Phillies in the 2008 Division Series.
Hardy’s best years came during a seven-year stint with the Orioles. He hit a career-best 30 homers in 2011 and earned one All-Star selection, three gold gloves and a silver slugger before retiring after the 2017 season.
2. Jose Valentin – He signed with the Padres as an amateur free agent and joined the Brewers in the trade involving Gary Sheffield. Valentin played eight seasons in Milwaukee (1992-99), with brief stints in the first two. He earned some Rookie of the Year consideration in 1994 and posted his best offensive numbers with the Brewers two years later, when he hit .359 with 90 runs, 24 home runs, 17 stolen bases and a career-high 95 runs batted in.
Valentin finished his Milwaukee career with 378 runs, 577 hits, 132 doubles, 90 home runs, 343 RBIs and 1,015 total bases in 768 games. He was traded to Chicago in 2000 and hit 25 home runs in each of his five seasons with the White Sox. Valentin had six hits and five RBIs for the Mets in the 2006 NLCS and retired the following year. After his playing career, he ran a baseball academy in his native Puerto Rico and coached in the Padres organization, eventually becoming San Diego’s first base coach for two seasons.
1. Robin Yount – He was taken with the third pick of the 1973 draft, and he was the youngest player in the major leagues when he joined the Brewers the following year at age 18. Yount was a solid but unspectacular player in his first few seasons, and an elbow injury had him contemplating a change to golf and a career on the PGA Tour before he changed his mind.
The decision affected the course of his career and his team’s fortunes. In 1980, he made his first All-Star team and earned his first silver slugger after batting .293 and totaling 121 runs, 179 hits, 10 triples, 23 homer runs, 87 RBIs, 20 steals and a league-leading and career-high 49 doubles. Yount received MVP consideration in each of the next four years, winning the award in 1982, which was the best season in franchise history.
That year, “The Kid” set career highs with a .331 average, 129 runs, 29 home runs, 114 RBIs, 210 hits, a .578 slugging percentage and 367 total bases. He led the league in the last three categories (as well as his 46 doubles), and the total bases mark set a team record. In addition to the MVP Award, Yount earned his second All-Star and silver slugger selections and won his only gold glove.
Yount and the Brewers were tied with the Orioles heading into the final game of the 1982 regular season, and he homered twice off future Hall of Famer Jim Palmer to give Milwaukee the division title. Yount picked up his game in the postseason, batting .414 (12-for-29) in the World Series with six runs, three doubles, one home runs and six RBIs, and he totaled 17 playoff appearances.
He made his third and final All-Star Game in 1983 (after leading the league with 10 triples) but recurring shoulder issues led him to move to the outfield after the following season. After spending 1985 in left field, Yount moved to center for the rest of his career, winning another MVP Award and silver slugger in 1989. He reached the 3,000-hit mark during the 1992 season and retired the following year.
Thanks to spending his entire 20-year career with the franchise (1974-93), Yount holds more than a few Brewers batting records, including games played (2,856), runs (1,632), hits (3,124), doubles (583), triples (126), RBIs (1,406), total bases (4,730) and walks (966). He also ranks second in home runs (251), stolen bases (271) and strikeouts (1,350) and ninth in average (.285). Yount had 11 seasons with 150 or more hits, five with at least 100 runs and four with 40 or more doubles and 20 or more homers.
Following his playing career, Yount continued to ride motorcycles and race cars, coached his son’s Little League team, served as a Brewers assistant at spring training, was a first base coach for Arizona and bench coach in Milwaukee and was the part-owner (along with Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker) of an amateur collegiate baseball team in Wisconsin. Yount was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1999.
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
A look back at the Miami Marlins
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
A look back at the Detroit Tigers
A look back at the Colorado Rockies
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 White Sox Catchers and Managers
Chicago White Sox First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Chicago White Sox Second Basemen and Shortstops
Chicago White Sox Outfielders
Chicago White Sox Pitchers
A look back at the Chicago Cubs
A look back at the Boston Red Sox
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
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