Sporting News recently released a list ranking the most miserable fanbases in baseball over the last 30 seasons. As Brewers' fans we were ranked 28th overall, or the third most miserable group ahead of only the Rockies and Padres. We've had to endure 19 losing seasons in 1985, including twelve straight from 1993-2004. With just two postseason appearances since 1985 and no championships, it's not hard to see why we've had to get used to disappointment.
Since taking a trip down memory lane is always fun, we're going to take a closer look at some of the worst teams that the Brewers have run out on to the field over the last 30 years. The teams are ranked by games back of first place, to give us an ever better sense of just how futile each club's efforts was. Today we'll start with the 1985 Brewers.
The 1985 club featured many of the same faces as the pennant-winning '82 ballclub, but a lot can change in three years and unfortunately the results were not nearly the same. That year the Brewers were lead by George Bamberger and finished 71-90 for a .441 winning percentage, and they were 28 games back of the division champion Blue Jays. The team that Harry Dalton assembled mustered only 690 runs scored throughout the season and gave up a whopping 802. Milwaukee did somehow manage to outplay their Pythagorean W-L by two games that year, at least.
Top Hitter - 3B Paul Molitor
After missing almost all of 1984, Molly managed to return to the field to play in 140 games in 1985 and played well enough to be named to the All-Star team. He batted .297/.356/.408 with 10 home runs and 21 stolen bases. His OPS was 10% better than league average that year and he lead the Brewers with 3.7 WAR.
Worst Hitter - OF Rick Manning
Manning was a decent player for the Indians for about a decade before getting traded to the Brewers in 1983, and then proceeded to become basically terrible. His -0.8 WAR in 1985 was the worst total of his career and was also the worst mark on the Brewers among players with at least 100 PAs. In 79 games Manning hit just .218/.265/.296 with two home runs and one stolen base while also playing shoddy defense in center and right field.
Top Pitcher - RHP Teddy Higuera
1985 was Higuera's rookie year in The Show, and it was certainly a memorable one as he lead the Brewers with 15 wins (and was the only 10+ game winner on the staff that season). He posted a 3.90 ERA and 3.77 FIP in 212.1 innings pitched across 32 appearances (30 starts) with 127 strikeouts and 63 walks. Teddy threw seven complete games that season, including two shutouts. He lead the pitching staff with 3.2 WAR and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting that season.
Worst Pitcher - LHP Rick Waits
Waits enjoyed a 12 year career as a swingman in the MLB and came to the Brewers along with Rick Manning from Cleveland in 1983. But 1985 would prove to be both his worst and final season in the big leagues. Waits pitched exclusively in relief for the Brewers that year, working 47.0 innings covering 24 appearances. He posted a cringe-worthy 6.51 ERA, though his FIP of 3.77 was markedly better. Waits was mainly hurt by a very high 12.8 H/9 and today we would probably say that his .370 BABIP against was unsustainable. Still, Waits' -0.7 WAR that season ranked him as the worst pitcher on a staff that allowed the third highest ERA in baseball that season.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference