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.
1989 Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers finished 14th in winning percentage in 1989, and the 14th ranked player in WAR was outfielder Glenn Braggs.
Glenn Erick Braggs was drafted by the Brewers at the end of the second round in the 1983 June draft. He was tall, strong, fast, a good fielder, and had a beautiful swing. The swing never resulted in a lot of contact with the baseball, but he had all the ingredients for success. Braggs also had one of the most incredible physiques of any baseball player ever.
Braggs switched back and forth between left field and right field (center field being Robin Yount's domain), and in 1989 he was back in left field after a wasted season playing in a support role with Jeffrey Leonard starting in left. Braggs had the best season of his career in '89, collecting career highs in HR (15) and SB (17).
There were some reasons to be hopeful in '89, with a group of promising young players like Braggs, Bill Spiers, B.J. Surhoff, and Gary Sheffield starting to produce, the kind of team that Tom Trebelhorn was good at maturing. Ultimately the streaky offense and injuries (the beginning of the end of Higuera's career) meant the team finished at .500.
In 1990 there were a lot of questions about the team, and one of them was answered when Braggs was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for pitchers Ron Robinson and Bob Sebra, making room for Greg Vaughn to play every day along side Yount and Rob Deer.
It ended up working out for both the Brewers and Braggs. Vaughn ended up being a premier power hitter, and Braggs won the World Series with the Reds. With the spotlight on him Braggs entered the annals of baseball lore in an unusual fashion, shocking Tim McCarver by breaking his bat on his own back during a swing.
Braggs played two more seasons with the Reds in a bench role, and then moved to Japan to play for the Yokohama Bay Stars where he got to play every day and was very successful, including hitting 35 HRs one season and collecting a 29-game hitting streak.
Yokohama pursued me after last season. I had my options. I was a free agent. But I felt if I played in the majors, I'd have to take a salary cut or platoon somewhere. I didn't want that. They really wanted me.
If I can put up some numbers, who knows? Maybe I'll be back in Milwaukee some day. But right now, I have to set my sights on playing here. I can't think about the majors because I'm not there anymore.
But Braggs never returned to the majors. He played four very productive seasons with the Baystars, and retired at age 33. In retirement his muscles grew even more muscles, and you and I both would be lucky to look as awesome as he does at age 51.
1989 FotF: The 80's ended with an infusion of young talent, but a lot of questions too. Some of these guys looked like the answer, some looked like they were running out of steam, and some looked like they belonged somewhere else. Glenn Braggs was a phenomenal athlete who never reached his full potential, but ultimately found his identity. The Brewers had enough talent to hope for a similar outcome.