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The Forgotten Brewers Series: Part I

EDITOR'S NOTE: Please join me in welcoming Brew Crew Ball's newest contributor, Hangwith'em Rach. Frosty Mug readers might know her as the voice of Hang With 'Em Brewers! We're excited to have her on board and looking forward to reading this, her first recurring series here on BCB. - KL

The challenge was simple: Name the 11 pitchers who have started more Brewer games than Dave Bush. Most of us who took the time to do the BCB Thursday Thinker last week started with Ben Sheets and ended with Teddy Higuera. Or started with Teddy Higuera and ended with Ben Sheets. Either way, the majority of us could not remember many of the most prolific starters in franchise history.

So, we here at BCB got to thinking:  Wouldn’t it be nice if someone not only told us the names of, but also featured, these "forgotten" Brewers—in a nine-part series, appearing on Fridays? Hence, the launch of the Forgotten Brewers series.

Part I: Scott Karl

Coming in just ahead of Dave Bush with 148 Brewer starts is (Randall) Scott Karl. Karl pitched for Milwaukee from 1995-1999. During this stretch he was the model of consistency, staring 25 games in his rookie season and 32, 32, 33 and 33 in the following years. In fact, none of his statistics as a Brewer varied much from year to year. The lefty finished his career with Milwaukee at 50-51 with a 4.57 ERA and a 1.489 WHIP. In his five years with the Brewers he compiled a 9.2 WAR (Baseball Reference)/11.3 (FanGraphs). 

My (second) first impression of Karl is that he wasn’t great but he was also far from terrible—a reliable lefthander who depended on his ability to locate pitches and change speeds to get outs. In baseball speak: "a crafty lefthander who doesn't throw hard." Milwaukee went 371-498 during Karl’s stint with the team.

Follow the jump to read more about Scott Karl!

While Karl’s statistics may not be eye-popping, his personal story is compelling. Karl is a player who got his shot at the big leagues because of the players' strike, witnessed Milwaukee’s transition from the American League to the National League, had his number retired and his career cut short due to a genetic condition. He was also involved in a three-team trade that sent him and Jeff Cirillo to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Jimmy Haynes of the A’s and Henry Blanco and Jamey Wright of the Rockies.

Born August 9, 1971 in Fontana, California, Karl attended Carlsbad High School (Carlsbad, CA) and the University of Hawaii. The Brewers drafted Karl in the sixth round of the 1992 draft. Karl earned All-Star honors in the Pioneer League with Helena (1992) and in the Texas League with El Paso (1993). When the players returned from the strike in April of 1995, teams were allowed to carry additional players because of the shortened spring training. According to Karl, this helped accelerate his accent to the majors. Karl made the Brewers opening day roster in 1995 and shared time between Milwaukee and New Orleans that season.

Karl wore #42 with the Brewers and in 1997 MLB retired that number in honor of Jackie Robinson. Players who wore Robinson’s number at the time of its retirement were allowed to continue to wear it for the duration of their careers. Karl was the last Brewers player to wear that number.

Following the 1999 season, Karl was dealt to the Rockies and the Rockies traded him to the Angels in August of 2000. Karl would pitch his final MLB game for Anaheim. He signed with the Padres in the off-season but was released. Karl said in an interview with that his rapid decline was due to a genetic condition that limited the elasticity of his ligaments and tendons. The condition caused his velocity to drop and that lead to his retirement from baseball.

The oddest little tidbit I could find about Scott Karl was that he and the very first batter he faced in the big leagues went to the same high school. He faced Brady Anderson in his major league debut on May 4 at Baltimore. Both attended Carlsbad High.

An accounting major in college, it appears that since retirement Karl worked for a time in venture capital but now focuses on providing baseball lessons and on his new venture Spotlight Sports, a magazine featuring high school sports in the San Diego area.    

Scott Karl, you are no longer forgotten.