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.
1987 Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers finished 5th in winning percentage in 1987, and the 5th ranked player in WAR was pitcher Chuck Crim.
Chuck was born in Van Nuys, CA on July 23, 1961. In the delivery room the doctor slapped Chuck's butt, and the hand bounced back and knocked the doctor out, because Chuck is totally made of rubber. After the departure of Rollie Fingers the Brewer bullpen saw a number of arms come and go, but Chuck slammed the revolving door and took over the set-up spot and made it his own.
He was drafted in '82 (after declining to answer the Cubs' attempt to draft him out of high school in 1979) and spend five years in the minors. It looked like he might top out at AAA, but a shortage of healthy arms gave Chuck a shot in 1987 and he strangled it into submission. Manager Tom Trebelhorn recalled:
"Rarely do you make it down here because of a spring. Chuck Crim did it, but that was very rare. Sure, it's happened historically, but few players went out and had the season Chuck Crim did. A lot of them made it in the spring but were sent down during the season. Chuck had a very rare spring training experience."
And he never looked back. Once he made the roster he made the most of it, basically taking the mound whenever they would let him, in any situation they wanted. In 1987 he was a set-up man and backup closer for Dan Plesac, and he also started five games. He was especially good in clutch situations, allowing only 17 inherited runners to score in 48 relief appearances, and limiting opposing hitters to a .194 average with 2 outs and runners in scoring position.
In 1988 and 1989, Crim led the league in appearances. Due to his fitness, preparedness, dogged determination and relaxed approach, he was able to take the ball nearly every other day and made 146 appearances in two seasons with a 2.87 ERA. He continued to be a reliable arm in the Milwaukee pen until Trebelhorn was fired after the 1991 season, and Crim left too.
Chuck pitched three more seasons for the Angels and Cubs, and then the baseball strike happened. Crim was turned off by the rift between players, management and fans, and quit baseball to join the Bassmaster fishing tour instead. He did a little teaching at the SHO-Me baseball camp on the side, and found that he really loved being a pitching coach. So after a short but impressive career as a pitcher he now finds himself as the bullpen coach of the Los Angeles Dodgers and thoroughly enjoys being a coach.
"Without a doubt, it's what I want to be. It's what I am. I like to be in the dugout, on the front step watching the guys. I coach pitch to pitch."
1987 FotF: Chuck Crim was a sign of the future for Milwaukee. Over the next few seasons the brightest parts of the Milwaukee franchise were the players they brought up through their own system, and the youth that infused the roster was making baseball fun again. The team in '87 had the 5th-best record in baseball, but unfortunately the 1st and 2nd teams were ahead of them in the same division. But that was ok, they were playing good baseball and poised to make some noise.
You can also read about 1986's Face of the Franchise Rick Manning here