Each season from the early days of the relocated Seattle Pilots through to the modern Miller Park era, we apply McLeam's Formula to the roster and cook up the player who represents the Brewers as the Face of the Franchise that year.
1986 Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers finished 15th in winning percentage in 1986, and the 15th ranked player in WAR was outfielder Rick Manning.
Rick Manning was drafted by the Cleveland Indians with the 2nd pick overall in the 1972 draft, two rounds ahead of Gary Carter and fellow Indian Dennis Eckersley. Rick was a great defensive center fielder with good speed and a little power, and with his many tools great things were expected of him. Unfortunately, injury and circumstance kept him from fulfilling that potential.
Manning's career had just started, and in 1977 he was coming off his best year in the majors as a sophomore, winning the gold glove in just his second season. In a 3-game June series in Seattle Manning broke his back sliding into second base. He played a few games after that but needed surgery and missed most of the summer.
While he was recuperating from the back surgery he was staying with the Eckersleys, and unfortunately for the Indians became romantically involved with Eck's wife. The affair was more than casual, and the players could barely survive spring training together. In the spring of '78 Al-Star Eckersley was traded to the Red Sox, and immediately won 20 games for the Sox in '78.
Manning never really recovered his full promise from that '76 season, although he was a great fielder, solid bat in the lineup, and threat on the bases. In 1983 however his package of tools was traded to the Brewers for slugger Gorman Thomas. The Milwaukee fans hated this. In retrospect it wasn't a bad move, but Gorman was loved by the Milwaukee fans. Manning was given a cool reception at County Stadium, and his lack of production didn't help.
Manning started as the center fielder, but Yount's move to the outfield put Manning on the bench with the young and talented Glenn Braggs and Rob Deer filling the corner outfield spots. After '87 he was granted free agency and it looked like the end of the careers for both Manning and Eckersley.
Manning retired, but Eckersley's career was extended by an incredible run as the closer for the Oakland Athletics, a Cy Young Award, AL MVP, and induction into the Hall of Fame. Manning gave up the bat for the microphone and became a color commentator for the Cleveland Indians, and is currently the longest tenured color guy in MLB. A recent ranking of the Cleveland broadcast team ranked them 8th, so he's doing just fine in retirement.
1986 FotF: Manning was a defensive center fielder with speed who was traded for a popular center fielder with power, and after making friends and enemies in the Midwest he ended up with a happy reunion back in Cleveland. Manning represents a poor Brewers team that was made up of leftover scraps from trades and aging talent, and it was clear that a new direction was needed for the team to rediscover their winning ways.