Geoff Jenkins was one of the faces of the Brewers for a decade, and now he’s a member of the Milwaukee Brewers Walk of Fame.
Jenkins will have a plaque installed on Miller Park’s walkway after receiving a vote on 27 of 37 ballots (73%) from media members across the state and team executives. He was the only person on this year’s ballot to surpass the 65% needed for induction, with Pete Vuckovich coming next-closest with 54.1% of the vote. Ben Oglivie and Ben Sheets drew 51.4%.
Jenkins was a first-round pick by the Brewers in 1995, going 9th overall. It wouldn’t be long before he was in the majors. He made his debut in 1998, and after struggling to a .229/.288/.385 line in 84 games as a rookie, he broke out in 1999. He hit .313/.371/.564 and put up the second-highest bWAR on the team behind only Jeff Cirillo that year (and just barely -- Cirillo finished with 4.8 bWAR, Jenkins 4.6). In 2000, he hit a career-high 34 home runs. He was never quite the same after a horrific ankle injury in 2002, but did make the only All-Star appearance of his career in 2003 (in those days, the Brewers were only getting one All-Star rep, and Jenkins was often passed over in favor of Jeromy Burnitz, Richie Sexson, or Ben Sheets). Jenkins left as a free agent after the 2007 season, making way for Ryan Braun in the outfield and signing with the Philadelphia Phillies -- who would beat the Brewers in the playoffs in 2008 and go on to win the World Series.
Jenkins finished his 10 years with the Brewers second on the team’s all-time home run list with 212, behind only Robin Yount (he’s since been passed by Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun). He also ranks 5th all-time in doubles, 5th in total bases, 5th in RBI, 5th in slugging, 4th in OPS, and 9th in WAR.
The team also announced that Prince Fielder, Doug Melvin and Harry Dalton will also be added to Miller Park’s Wall of Honor in July. The Wall of Honor is a different honor, with automatic inductions based on statistical achievements and time served with the organization.
Fielder may have come up just short of holding the team’s all-time home run record, but you could argue he’s still the most prodigious power hitter in team history. Nobody else has hit 30 home runs in five consecutive seasons, and he still holds the Major League record for youngest to hit 50 home runs in a season when he did it at the age of 23. Once he became a full-time starter in 2006, he only missed 13 games over a six-year stretch, playing in all 162 games twice for the Brewers (in 2009 and 2011, and twice more for the Tigers in 2012 and 2013). Fielder was also a three-time All-Star with the Brewers, and had three Top-4 MVP finishes, including 2011, when he finished 3rd behind Ryan Braun.
Dalton is the longest-tenured general manager in Brewers history, serving as GM from 1978 to 1991. The Brewers won more than 90 games in both of his first two seasons and went to the playoffs in 1981 and 1982, losing the World Series in 1982 in 7 games. Dalton swung a key trade to push the Brewers into the playoffs those years, acquiring Rollie Fingers, Ted Simmons and Vuckovich in a deal that sent Sixto Lezcano, Lary Sorensen, Dave LaPoint and David Green to St. Louis.
Of course, it wouldn’t be until 2008 under Melvin’s watch that the Brewers returned to the playoffs. Through building up the farm system, some savvy trades and waiver wire pick-ups, the Brewers were able to finish at .500 for the first time in 13 years in 2005, and finished above the .500 mark in 2007 before breaking through for a wildcard berth in 2008, thanks largely to Melvin’s trade for CC Sabathia. A few years later, Melvin would put together the best team in franchise history following two more blockbuster trades for Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, leading to an NL Central title and an appearance in the NLCS. Melvin would eventually make way for current GM David Stearns, but not before trading Carlos Gomez to Houston in yet another deal that could shape the future of the franchise, bringing back Domingo Santana, Josh Hader, Brett Phillips and Adrian Houser.
Fielder, Dalton and Melvin will be honored on July 21st at Miller Park, while Jenkins’ ceremony will be held on July 24th.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference