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.
1975 Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers finished 21st in winning percentage in 1975, and the 21st ranked player in WAR was pitcher Jim Slaton.
Jim Slaton is the winningest pitcher in Brewer history, and also still holds franchise records for innings pitched, hits, runs, HR allowed, walks, wild pitches, and complete games. He was the epitome of the "innings eater" pitcher. He was excellent but not spectacular, and he filled a spot in the rotation that you could count on. From '73 to '79 he averaged 34 starts and 243 innings pitched. If you looked up "reliable" in the Brewer dictionary, you found a picture of Slaton. How many innings did Slaton throw? Consider this pie chart:
Slaton didn't have the greatest stuff, but it was good enough to keep his team in the ballgame on most days, and he was exactly what the team needed at that time, a guy who could be counted on to hold down a spot in the rotation and throw until his arm fell off. Players came and went, but every five days Slaton pitched. In 1975 Slaton was the opening day pitcher for the Brewers at Fenway Park.
Jim was also a key player in one of the best trades in franchise history. In 1977 Slaton and Rich Folkers (who would never pitch in the majors again) were traded to the Detroit Tigers for outfielder Ben Oglivie, who would become a key piece in the team's 1982 World Series run. After his one season with the Detroit Tigers, Slaton returned to Milwaukee, playing another five seasons for the Brewers.
In 1980 Slaton tore his rotator cuff, and when it healed enough to return he pitched in more of a relief role. In 1982 Slaton pitched for the Brewers in the postseason, appearing twice in middle relief in the World Series. He was the winning pitcher of record for Game 4, pitching two scoreless innings in relief of Moose Haas; defusing a Cardinal rally in the 6th, getting Keith Hernandez to ground into a double play in the 7th, and striking out Lonnie Smith in the 8th before giving way to Bob McClure.
Slaton retired in 1986 after 16 years in the majors. In 1989 he was a member of the Fort Myers Sun Sox of the Senior Professional Baseball Association, but he spent the season on the disabled list. Since his retirement from playing he has held several positions over a decade in different organizations as a pitching coach, and made his way back to the majors as an interim bullpen coach with the Dodgers in 2012.
1975 FotF: Jim Slaton was the reliable face of the Brewer pitching staff through the 70's. Although he wasn't a superstar, he was a steady, productive pitcher who occasionally pitched great games. Even as the anchor of the staff, he was a low-key player who tried to approach each game one at a time and just enjoy the highs and avoid the lows. It was Milwaukee Baseball - productive and competitive, if not spectacular.
"Do the best job I can and try not to cheat myself by getting behind on hitters and hitting batters. You have to stay away from the big inning where teams score three or four runs off you."
Hardly even quotable - Jim Slaton, a simple, solid blue-collar baseball man.