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.
1990 Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers finished 22nd in winning percentage in 1990, and the 22nd ranked player in WAR was pitcher Kevin Brown.
Kevin Brown was a 6-time All-Star who collected over 200 wins for the Rangers, Marlins.... oh wait, not that Kevin Brown. Right, we want the Brewers' Kevin Brown. Ok, Kevin Brown was a catcher for the Brewers from 2000-2001 backing up Blanco and Casanova.... what? That's not him either? How many Kevin Browns are there?
Will the real Kevin Brown please step forward!
He's probably not going to, because the real Kevin Brown is not a person who seeks attention for himself. Unlike most players we end up reading about, the Real Kevin Brown is not a spoiled sports star or drug-fueled egomaniac. He is a pleasant person of good moral standing. In fact, he is the pastor at Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Sacramento, CA. It isn't even a megachurch. It's the kind of neighborhood church that works to help people.
Brown was a 1st round pick by the Braves in 1986, in the January draft. I'm not sure how the January draft works (someone can probably fill me in on this one) but of the top four picks he was the only one to make it to the majors. He was pulled from the ranks of Sacramento City College, the same place Brewers Greg Vaughn and Chris Bosio played.
Brown was acquired by the Brewers in a trade with the Mets in the fall of 1990, receiving Brown and Julio Machado for catcher Charlie O'Brien. O'Brien was a 30-year old utility catcher, and getting two quality pitchers in return was a huge haul for the Brewers. It happened only because the Mets were overloaded with pitching and were having issues at catcher. The Mets were in first place at the time of the trade fighting for a division title, but it wasn't the help they needed, and lost the division to the Pirates.
"I thought I had a good shot (with Milwaukee). You have to believe in yourself."
Kevin Brown was very happy with the trade. Leaving behind the Mets and his struggle to crack a rotation that included Dwight Gooden, Frank Viola, David Cone, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez and Bob Ojeda, Brown finished his season with a September of pitching for the Brewers. And he pitched well, going 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA in (SSS alert) 21 innings.
His last appearance of the season was his best, holding the Rangers to one hit over seven innings. With an injury to Teddy Higuera, it looked like Brown had a good shot to make the starting rotation the next season as a left handed starter. Said manager Tom Trebelhorn:
"He balances our rotation. When Teddy went down, and with the way Brown pitched for us last year, he was pretty much one of the five. He deserves the opportunity to start."
Brown got the opportunity in '91, and didn't do well with it. He was a lowball pitcher who changed speeds but after about 50 pitches the hitters started solving him. He might have made it as a middle reliever, but the Brewers needed starters and they sent Brown down to the Zephyrs. They replaced him with starts from Jim Hunter and eventually Cal Eldred. Brown had shoulder issues in August and needed knee surgery that fall, and was waived by the Brewers after not making the team in the final cuts the following spring.
The Mariners claimed him off of waivers and gave him another shot in '92, but for only three innings, and then he was done. At that point I would wager if you ask Kevin brown, his life's work really started. He founded his church in Sacramento in 1994 and next year will be celebrating its 20th anniversary. It's not flashy and there aren't great statistics to be found on it, but he pitches a complete game every week and really enjoys the team he plays for.
1990 FotF: It was the worst year of Trebelhorn's tenure, and neither he nor Kevin Brown were ultimately the solution to the team's problems. Despite having three veterans from the World Series team and a slew of legitimate young players, they couldn't convert the effort into wins. Injuries played a big role, and so did poor performance. The team leader in WAR was Ron Robinson and if it weren't for his 12-5 career year, things might have been much worse. But ultimately for Kevin Brown, the Brewers, and their fans, things turned out just fine. They were building a franchise with good talent and great character.