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 since 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. We've already looked at the 1985 and 1998 ball clubs, and today we'll recall the 1995 Milwaukee Brewers.
Baseball's infamous strike in 1994 saw the cancellation of the World Series for the first time since 1904 over issues relating to the revenue sharing for small market clubs and a potential salary cap that was vehemently opposed by the Players' Union. The strike lasted 232 days from August 12, 1994 through April 2nd, 1995. This caused both the 1994 and 1995 seasons to be played with shortened schedules.
Despite playing just 144 games in 1995, the Brewers still managed to finish 35.0 games back in the American League Central Division with a 65-79 record. The Indians won the division and the pennant that year while posting a dominant 100-44 record. Lead by old "scrap iron" Phil Garner, the Brewers' offense was actually pretty good that season, averaging 5.14 runs per game to rank 7th in the AL. In a familiar theme, however, the pitching staff was also among the league's worst with a collective 4.82 ERA. The club allowed seven more runs than they scored during the season, 740 to 747, but inefficient play lead them to under perform their Pythagorean W-L total of 71-73 by six games. Milwaukee's attendance plummeted to the league's second worst and the team barely drew one millions fans over the entire season.
Best Hitter - LF B.J. Surhoff
The Brewers drafted Surhoff number one overall as a catcher in 1985, and while he did have a solid career he was never able to really live up to the hype that accompanies being the first pick in the draft. He couldn't stick behind the plate and eventually moved to third base and then left field for Milwaukee. 1995 wound up being his final season in a Brewers' uniform, and it was also his best. In 117 games, the 30 year old left-handed hitter posted a .320/.378/.492 batting line with 13 home runs. His .320 average was sixth in the AL that year, he recorded eight outfield assists (fourth among AL left fielders), and he finished first on the Brewers with 2.9 WAR. Surhoff would play another 10 productive seasons in the Majors with the Orioles and Braves, finally retiring in 2005.
Worst Hitter - OF David Hulse
The Brewers picked up Hulse in a trade with the Texas Rangers right at the start of the 1995 season. He slotted into a fourth outfielder role and played 115 games between all three outfield spots. Unfortunately he wasn't a very good defender at any of them and also posted a meager .251/.285/.345 line at the plate for an OPS+ of just 60. He was the worst player on the club in 1995 with a full -1.0 WAR. He would again post a negative WAR in a backup role for the Brewers in 1996, which wound being the final season of his five-year big league career.
Best Pitcher - RHP Ricky Bones
Bones came to the Brewers in 1992 as a part of the deal that sent Gary Sheffield to the Padres. He was an All-Star for Milwaukee during the strike year in 1994 and followed it up with a team-leading 3.4 WAR campaign in 1995. Bones made 32 appearances (31 starts) and pitched 200.1 innings of 4.63 ERA ball, which actually translated to a better-than-average ERA+ of 107 in the offensive climate of 1995. Funny thing is Bones actually walked more batters (83) than he struck out (77) during his 1995 campaign. The Brewers traded Bones to the Yankees the next season, and he bounced around quite a bit with six teams between 1996 and finally hanging up his cleats in 2001.
Worst Pitcher - RHP Bob Scanlan
One of the tallest pitchers in the league at 6'7", Scanlan pitched for the Brewers from 1994-95 and then again briefly in 2000. 1995 was the worst of his parts of nine seasons in the majors, as he posted an atrocious 6.59 ERA in 83.1 innings pitched covering 17 games (14 starts). He walked more batters (44) than he struck out (29!) and allowed one home run every 9.0 innings pitched. He was well below replacement level at -0.6 WAR that year and never again threw more than 26.1 innings at the big league level before his career ended after the 2001 season.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference