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Brewer WAR Lords: First Base/DH

Earlier in the series:


Before I start with today's rankings, a little more on the process used, without going too far into it:

I'm using Sean Smith's WAR database to compile the Brewer career WAR as well as Top 5 season and top 3 season WAR for Brewers at each position. Once I've compiled all three stats, I rank players in each of the three stats, then average the three rankings to get one number to use to rank players. For example, here are the top three at catcher:

Rank Player Career WAR Top 3 WAR Top 5 WAR Average
1 Darrell Porter 1 1 1 1
2 B.J. Surhoff 2 3 2 2.333
3 Ted Simmons 3 2 3 2.667

In five of the six positions we'll be looking at (all three outfield positions will be combined to one post), the leader in Career WAR is also the leader in Top 3 and Top 5, leaving a clear leader for best player at each position. There are only a handful of close calls on most of these lists, as a sizable majority of the players assessed spent 5 or fewer years in a Brewer uniform, meaning their Career WAR and Top 5 are the same.

Now, moving on to the task at hand. Thirteen players were considered for this position, taking seasons primarily played as either a first baseman or a designated hitter. The top five:

1. Cecil Cooper

Career WAR: 31.2 (1st)
Top three seasons: 17.9 (1st)
Top five seasons: 25.2 (1st)

After six seasons and 4.8 WAR in Boston, Cooper was traded to the Brewers in exchange for George Scott, another great first baseman, and came into his own as a Brewer, making five All Star appearances, winning two Gold Gloves and finishing in the top ten in the AL MVP voting four times in eleven Brewer seasons. His best season was 1980, when Cooper hit .352/.387/.539 and was worth 6.6 wins over replacement.

2. George Scott

Career WAR: 21.6 (2nd)
Top three seasons: 16.1 (2nd)
Top five seasons: 21.6 (2nd)

Much like Cooper, Scott started his career with the Red Sox, also playing six seasons in Boston before being traded to the Brewers. Scott spent five seasons as a Brewer from 1972 to 1976, winning the AL Gold Glove at first base in every season. He could also hit: Scott led the AL in home runs, RBI and total bases in 1975. Scott's best season as a Brewer, though, was in 1973, when he hit .306/.370/.488, saved an estimated 14 runs in the field and was worth 6 wins. Following the 1976 season, he was traded back to Boston in exchange for Cecil Cooper.

3. Paul Molitor

Career WAR: 12.5 (3rd)
Top three seasons: 12.5 (3rd)
Top five seasons:
12.5 (3rd)

Molitor is easily one of the greatest Brewers of all time, producing 62.7 wins above replacement in 15 Brewer seasons. However, Molitor split that production up over a bunch of positions, playing primarily at second base in 1978, '79, '80 and '90, in the outfield in '81, at third base from 1982-86, '88 and '89, and as a DH in 1987, '91 and '92. Those three seasons as a DH, though, qualify as the third best career by a 1B/DH in Brewer history. Molitor's 1991 season, when he hit .325/.399/.489, was his second most valuable as a Brewer.

4. Richie Sexson

Career WAR:
10.6 (4th)
Top three seasons:
8.6 (4th)
Top five seasons:
10.6 (4th)

Acquired midseason in 2000, Sexson was one of the few bright spots on some really bad Brewer teams. Despite playing just three full seasons as a Brewer, Sexson ranks 11th on the Brewer All Time list with 133 home runs. He hit 45 home runs in both 2001 and 2003, but Smith ranks 2002 as Sexson's best Brewer season, when he hit .273/.363/.504 with 29 home runs and was worth 3.1 wins.

5. John Jaha

Career WAR:
8.9 (5th)
Top three seasons:
7.8 (5th)
Top five seasons:
8.9 (5th)

It's a long drop down from Cooper and Scott, isn't it? Jaha played seven seasons as a Brewer but only exceeded 500 plate appearances in two of them. Jaha was most valuable in 1996, when he hit .300/.398/.543, worth 3.5 WAR. He also made the most of the 356 plate appearances he got in 1995, hitting .313/.389/.579 and was worth 3 wins in a partial season.

Rounding out the top ten:

Pos. Player Career WAR Rank Top 3 Rank Top 5 Rank
6 Prince Fielder 6.2 6 6.6 6 6.2 6
7 Don Money 6 7 5 7 6 7
8 Greg Brock 4.8 8 3.6 9 4.8 8
9 Lyle Overbay 4.5 9 4.5 8 4.5 9
10 Mike Hegan 4.2 10 3 10 4.2 10

Tomorrow: Second Base