Hello, Brewers fans! Your BCB resident bobblehead aficionado is back at it again and ready to make some bold predictions on next year’s all-fan bobblehead giveaways at Miller Park. How did the 2016 season fly by already…?
Since everything here is baseball-centric and the analytics side of the game uses past performance to predict future performance (amongst other things), I will be looking at the bobblehead giveaways from the last couple of seasons to foresee what’s coming ahead. And this will apply to both what kinds of bobbleheads are given away AND how many will be given away. Like last season, I’ll only be addressing the all-fan bobblehead giveaways, not the limited special ones (past examples are Star Wars, Superhero, Ghostbusters, etc.) or any other kind of all-fan giveaway (gnomes, t-shirts, etc.).
But first, a little insight into my deduction process using data from the 2015 and 2016 seasons:
- After averaging around 7-8 bobblehead giveaways per season for a number of years, the Brewers gave away a whopping 10 in 2015! Then, suddenly, they dropped to giving out only 6 – a relatively low number by Brew Crew standards – in 2016. What happened? I think we all the answer to that: the infamous REBUILD. Going into 2015, the organization was riding high on the very successful April-to-August of 2014 (let’s just forget about September of that year) and gave it one last go at being competitive. To go along with that, they saturated the fan base with bobbleheads that season. Since that last "go" was more of a "stop", the Brewers shifted their direction and began the rebuild. Since most would argue that we’re still deep in the middle of said rebuild, I would imagine that 6 bobbleheads would be the amount given away in 2017, as well.
- In 2016, there were 13 Sunday home games, which is always when they give out the all-fan bobbleheads (and the kids-only Paint-Your-Own-Bernie bobblehead this past season). Yet they only gave out 6 all-fan bobbleheads. They added a few different kids-only giveaways, including the aforementioned Bernie, and some other items, like the highly sought-after Bob Uecker alarm clock, so Sundays were no longer focused mostly on bobbleheads. In 2017, there will also be 13 Sunday home games, so I can’t imagine the team breaking away from their formula of last year. Sure, maybe they’ll add one more all-fan bobblehead this year, but for the sake of consistency, I’ll stick with my prediction of 6 this upcoming season.
- Going back the last couple of years, there are some similarities around the types of bobbleheads given out in 2015 and 2016. Here’s how I’m breaking it down:
1. Obscure old school player (2015 – Rob Deer; 2016 – Greg Vaughn)
2. Up-and-coming starting pitcher (2015 – Wily Peralta; 2016 – Jimmy Nelson)
3. Vintage Brewer from different eras (2015 – 70’s Vintage Brewer; 2016 – 80’s Vintage Brewer)
4. BOBBLEHANK! (2015 – Mother’s Day Hank; 2016 – Barking Hank)
5. A non-player member of the organization (2015 – Bud Selig; 2016 – Craig Counsell as manager… alongside the player one they gave away, too)
6. Current position player (2015 – Carlos Gomez, Khris Davis, Jonathan Lucroy; 2016 – Ryan Braunn… Note: This is the most common type of bobblehead in general, so I just want to point out there will definitely be at least one of these)
So by incorporating those similarities with the fact that I think 6 is the magic number for how many all-fan bobbleheads will be given away in 2017, let’s move right ahead into what I think those 6 will be, followed by my wish list (which does repeat some of the ones I described in my grading post from 2015 and 2016 and my prediction post from 2016, so I won’t go into too much detail there). Alright, here are my guesses, kids:
1. Juan Nieves – My obscure old school player prediction. The timing is absolutely perfect for it. 2017 will be the 30th anniversary of Nieves throwing the only no-hitter in Brewers history, so it really does seem like a no-brainer. During a rebuild, sometimes it’s hard to keep casual fans engaged in the team, so what better way to get fans jazzed up than to go back to that nostalgia well and bring back happy memories of a once-in-a-lifetime performance by Juan, a legendary diving catch by Robin Yount, and Bill Schroeder being the architect of one of the best games in Brewers history (it will also give Rock the opportunity to talk about this game in great detail, which I don’t think he’s ever done in his life…). I also have a guess as to when it will be given out… well, actually two guesses. Either on Sunday April 9, which is the closest date to the actual 30th anniversary (April 15, 1987) or on July 2 when the Marlins are in town. Nieves is currently the pitching coach for Miami and it would be a very cool gesture to present his bobblehead to him while he’s in town. My money is on July 2.
2. Junior Guerra – My up-and-coming starting pitcher prediction. What more can be said about the 2016 Brewers ace that hasn’t already been said on this site? He was a great Stearns pickup – his first, in fact – that worked out really well for the team this past season and hopefully into the future. There’s some whispering about Guerra being a trade candidate while his value is as high as it is, but until I hear otherwise, he’s my choice. Zach Davies would definitely be the runner-up in this category, but his bobblehead may have to wait until 2018 (if he continues to perform and build on his late 2015 and full 2016 campaigns).
3. 90’s Vintage Brewer – My vintage Brewer from a different era prediction. They’ve done the 70’s, 80’s, and current uniform, so all that’s left is the 90’s. And with how the team embraced that decade this past season with the Greg Vaughn bobblehead giveaway and the 90’s night with the Will Smith "Fresh Prince of Milwaukee" t-shirt giveaway, it seems like that glorious span of 10 years is back in fashion! This would also complete the vintage bobblehead collection, which will be fine by me since I love completing a collection (see #4 below).
4. Bratwurst (German Heritage) – My BOBBLEHANK! prediction. Wait, what? Hank? Bratwurst? Is Hank eating a bratwurst??? I don’t get it. Listen, hear me out. So we can all agree that Bernie Brewer is the official mascot of the Brewers, right? So you could say that Hank the Ballpark Pup is the unofficial mascot of the team. Well, frankly, we’ve all had enough of bobbleHanks (something else I addressed last season), so we don’t need another one. But we do need another unofficial mascot bobblehead. Well, you know what else are unofficial mascots? The Racing Sausages! So this goes back to yet another thing I addressed last year. This is a direct quote from my post back then:
"The Brewers have given away a regular version of all 5 racing sausages but have only done 4 special versions (Hot Dog – Breast Cancer Awareness, Italian – Birrai, Polish – Piwowarzy, Chorizo – Cerveceros). The Brat is the only one they haven’t done yet in this fashion. So the Bratwurst with a ‘Bierbrauer’ jersey is due this year. Make it happen, Brewers. I hate having an incomplete collection."
So yes, it all comes back to completing the collection. All local bobblehead nerds have been asking for it for years. Just do it, Brewers.
5. David Stearns – My non-player member of the organization prediction. I threw out the idea last year that they might do a bobblehead of the rookie GM, but deep down, I thought it was too early for that. Now, however, is the ideal time to bobblize him. He’s won over the hardcore and casual fans by making smart trades, drafting well, keeping the 2016 major league club surprisingly not-horrible, and elevating the minor league system to the top spot or near the top spot in all of professional baseball (depending on the publication you read). And in the hypothetical (and certainly possible) situation that Ryan Braun is traded, we can just use the heads from old Braun bobbleheads (which I’m sure they have stacks of in a Miller Park closet) and pop them on top of the necks of old Doug Melvin bobbleheads (which I’m sure Miller Park has even more of than Brauns) to make near-identical Stearns bobbleheads. It’s eco-friendly and cost-effective!!!
6. Jonathan Villar – My current position player prediction. I mean, it has to be him, right? In my social circles, I affectionately and facetiously refer to Villar as "the greatest Brewer of all time", but gosh darn it, maybe it’s not so far from the truth. He has had an amazing breakout season, won the 2016 stolen base title, and was only one home run away from the extremely exclusive 20-60 club. And he has the potential to only get better. Plus, you gotta love how he seamlessly made the move from shortstop to third base when Orlando Arcia got called up. Versatility is key to modern baseball.
Speaking of Arcia, I think he and some other Brewers are just on the outside looking in when it comes to being bobblized in 2017, despite having good years. Along with Arcia and the aforementioned Davies, there’s Hernan Perez and Keon Broxton, who could all make solid arguments for getting a bobblehead. They all made big steps forward this season but still need to break out more to reach bobble status.
There’s one more player who I think is on that line of being a possible #7 and being on the outside looking in: Chris Carter. He just won the National League home run title (shared with Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies), so that’s absolutely worth memorializing in a bobblehead. You know what? Let’s go all in and say there’s going to be 7 bobbleheads this year and Sleepy will be that 7th one. All of this, of course, is contingent on offseason trades, but I really don’t think Guerra, Villar, or Carter will get traded. These are all guys that have a lot of team control and could be a part of the not-too-distant competitive Brewers team of the future.
So for my wish list/other possibilities, I’ll throw out those four (Arcia, Davies, Perez, and Broxton), as well as Teddy Higuera, Ed Sedar (bobblearm, of course), Domingo Santana, Tyler Thornburg, and Dean Rosko (ONE DAY!!!). But I really do think the 6/7 that I picked have a very good chance of being the ones that are actually revealed shortly after the World Series ends this year, if history serves me right.
And like in the past, after the giveaways are revealed, I’ll post my highly subjective grades on how well the Brewers organization did on their choices for all-fan bobbleheads in 2017. I’m looking forward to it, as well as your comments and thoughts on my predictions and your own!