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Opening Day Countdown: The 1970 Brewers

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Baseball in 70's days. Yadda yadda yadda, '70 Brewers.

The 1970 baseball season was a monumental one for the city of Milwaukee. After the 1965 season the Milwaukee Braves became the Atlanta Braves. Four years the city was without baseball. But thanks to the bankruptcy of the Seattle Pilots, Bud Selig was able to purchase them, bring them to Milwaukee, and create the Brewers. The 1970 season was their first in Milwaukee.

Reading up on this season I learned an interesting tidbit about their uniforms. Apparently Bud Selig wanted the uniforms to be navy blue and red. But the move to Milwaukee wasn't approved until the week before the season began--can you imagine that happening today--and so there wasn't enough time to order new uniforms. Instead they just had to remove "Pilots" from the old uniforms and add "Brewers." The Seattle Pilots colors were blue and gold which the Brewers ended up keeping, as you know.

In their first season as the Milwaukee Brewers, the team finished with a 65-97 record. That was good enough for fourth place in their division. But what division is that? Not the American League East. At this point they were still part of the American League West, as a hold over from their origins in Seattle. They actually didn't move to the AL East until the 1972 season which I forgot to mention.

In their entire franchise history the Brewers have played in three (it's actually four, I totally forgot about the AL Central) different divisions, while only relocating the one time. The next most are the Houston Astros who've played in the NL West, NL Central, and AL West divisions.

The following teams have played in two different divisions during their lifetime: Chicago White Sox (ALE, ALC), Cleveland Indians (ALE, ALC), Detroit Tigers (ALE, ALC), Kansas City Royals (ALW, ALC), Minnesota Twins (ALW, ALC), Texas Rangers (ALE, ALW), Atlanta Braves (NLE, NLW), Chicago Cubs (NLE, NLC), Cincinnati Reds (NLW, NLC), Pittsburgh Pirates (NLE, NLC), St. Louis Cardinals (NLE, NLC).

Most of these teams simply moved because of restructuring of the leagues and divisions though. Of course we all know the famous story of the Dodgers moving from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, but that was a long time ago. When the Milwaukee Braves became the Atlanta Braves there was just the American League and National League. So they didn't have to switch. The Montreal Expos eventually moved to Washington D.C. to become the Washington Nationals, but they stayed in the same division. As far as I can tell, the Brewers are the only team during the modern era whose relocation ultimately forced them to move divisions.

There's not a ton to say about the players on the team but I will highlight two of it's stars. Outfielder Tommy Harper more than tripled the WAR total of the next best position player on the Brewers that year. He hit 296/377/522 with 31 home runs and and 38 stolen bases. He was a legitimate superstar level player that year. His 6.8 fWAR was 6th baseball, tied with Giants' first baseman Willie McCovey and Angels shortstop Jim Fregosi. Harper was only bested in fWAR by Reds catcher Johnny Bench (7.9) and third baseman Tony Perez (8.2), in addition to Red Sox outfielder Carl Yastrzemski (8.9). That's some damn fine company.

On the pitching side, Marty Pattin put up a great season for Milwaukee. If you remember from yesterday, he was the top pitcher on the 1971 team as well. He made 29 starts and pitched in a 37 games for a total 233.1 IP. He had a 6.21 K/9, 2.74 BB/9, 0.77 HR/9, .232 BAA, 1.18 WHIP, 3.39 ERA, 3.38 FIP, and 4.3 fWAR. This was the start of a nice little stretch for Pattin's career. Though he did start to drop off after the 1973 season. He would never hit the 200 IP plateau again. I wonder if all the innings he logged between 1970-1973 just wore him out.

You can see the whole list of 1970 Brewers here on FanGraphs.

Tomorrow if finally the last day of this look back at the Brewers franchise. But after tomorrow there are still going to be 68 of these before MLB's opening day. That's a lot. It'd be great if you could help me come up with some ideas for tie-ins to the number. Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions!