The Milwaukee Brewers entered the 2016-17 off season with a goal of improving their line-up from the left side of the plate. Mission accomplished. They coaxed Eric Thames out of super-stardom in Korea with a three year deal in November. The move was not without risk, though. Milwaukee DFA’d incumbent Chris Carter in the process, the same one that hit 41 homers and tied the NL lead in the 2016 season.
Then, in early December, Milwaukee sent relief pitcher Tyler Thornburg, who had been successful as a setup man and closer in 2016, to the Boston Red Sox for third baseman Travis Shaw. The Brewers also received infielder Mauricio Dubon, pitcher Josh Pennington, and PTBNL infielder Yeison Coca in the deal, and with Thornburg missing the entire 2017 season with thoracic outlet syndrome surgery it would appear to be a very lopsided deal. Of course, Thornburg could come back next season and put the Red Sox over the top and back to a World Series, so we will await judgement on that.
Thames, with 31 homers, and Shaw, with 30, have provided exactly what GM David Stearns was looking for. The last time two lefties had 30 or more dingers for the Brewers was in 2000, when Jeremy Burnitz and Geoff Jenkins both hit 31. In 1982, Ben Oglivie (41) and Cecil Cooper (32) accomplished the feat (and joined Gorman Thomas with 39 as the only triumvirate in Brewer history).
In total, Milwaukee has had at least two players at or above 30 homers fourteen times in their 47 seasons. It has happened nine times in the Miller Park era, since the Brewers moved in for the 2001 season. They reached this benchmark in six consecutive seasons from 2007 through 2012; four times with Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, once with Fielder and Corey Hart, and once with Hart and Braun. They missed from 2013-15, and have done it the last two seasons (Braun and Carter last year). The Brewers have reached 30 or more homers in a season forty times.
The Brewers have a (very) outside chance of getting to three players with 30 or more for the second time in franchise history. Domingo Santana is at 25, and would need five more over the final thirteen fourteen games to join Shaw and Thames.
It would be a worthy team goal to have four players reach thirty next season, don’t you think?
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference