On this day in 2003 the Brewers signed outfielder John Vander Wal, a twelve year major league veteran, as a free agent. Vander Wal had appeared in over 1200 games as a major leaguer at this point as a member of six franchises and was a career .264/.354/.441 hitter, but had been used primarily as a pinch hitter and part-time player.
Vander Wal turned 37 in April of his lone season with the Brewers, but actually had a pretty good year on a terrible team. He made 374 plate appearances (the third highest total of his career) for the 2003 Crew and hit .257/.350/.468 with 14 home runs. He even had a two homer game on April 25 against the Braves, one of just two in his career.
By wins above replacement (rWAR), Vander Wal's lone season in Milwaukee was the second best of his career, valued at exactly one win. It was also his last full year in the big leagues: He appeared in just 42 games for the Reds in 2004 before calling it a career.
With help from the B-Ref Play Index, happy birthday today to:
- 2011 Brewer Yuniesky Betancourt, who turns 30.
- 2000-01 Brewer pitching coach Bob Apodaca, who turns 61.