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Opening Day Countdown: The 1974 Brewers

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See that off in the distance? That MLB's Opening Day just a hop, skip, and a 74 days away! Tying in with our countdown is a look back at the '74 Brewers.

It's starting to get pretty hard to come up with different things to say about these early Brewers teams. I have ideas for the next few, but man...this one is a slog. I guess they were better than the '75 team. That much is easy to see. The '74 team won won 76 games which is 8 more than the following year. They had more top end position talent too.

Or at the very least, a couple of players gave better performances. Don Money and George Scott were worth 4+ fWAR that year which bested the two 3+ WAR values from the top performers in '75--George Scott and Darrell Porter. The pitching was equally bad with not a single player at or above 2 fWAR--which is roughly what an average player is worth.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the 1974 Brewers season is that it's the rookie campaign of future star Robin Yount. He played in 107 games that year, accumulating 364 plate appearances. He 250/276/346, 77 wRC+, with 12 doubles, 5 triples, 3 home runs, and 7 stolen bases. By FanGraphs' metric he was worth 0.8 WAR.

I touched on this recently, but I think Yount's early few seasons teaches us a good lesson about expectations. Even great players can take time to find their stride at the major league level. Baseball is hard. THAT'S WHY IT'S NOT CALLED SOFT BALL! THAT'S A JOKE YOU GUYS! IT'S FUNNY! LAUGH! PLEASE?

Anyway, this was also the first season Sixto Lezcano appeared in the majors. He only got 61 plate appearances though.

The Brewers had a much better draft in 1974 than they did the following year. Things were different back then and there were only 16 rounds. The three notable acquisitions were Moose Haas, Jim Ganter, and Jerry Augustine. More importantly than all that was their first round pick: Butch Edge. He only made 9 MLB starts--for the Blue Jays--but hot damn if that isn't an amazing name.

The playoffs that year saw the Athletics best the Orioles in four games. The Dodgers took down the Pirates in four as well. The A's would win the World Series in five games.

One other notable thing happened with the Brewers in 1974. In November of that year they OF Dave May to the Braves for OF Hank Aaron. He would spend the next two seasons with the Brewers, finishing his major league career in the city where it began.

Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs