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Milwaukee Brewers decade in review: All-Decade team for the 2010’s

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Who were the best players in the Cream City during the last 10 years?

Milwaukee Brewers v Detroit Tigers Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Milwaukee Brewers just completed arguably the most successful decade in franchise history. During the 2010’s, the Brew Crew posted six winning seasons and made three playoff appearances, including two trips to the NLCS. 19 different players combined for 26 All-Star game appearances, and two members of the Cream City Nine earned Most Valuable Player awards in the National League. Milwaukee’s .508 winning percentage during the decade ranked second among Central division teams, behind only the St. Louis Cardinals.

During the past ten years, fans in Milwaukee have been lucky enough to witness many of the top players to ever don the Brewers uniform. So let’s take a moment to reflect on the All-Decade team:

Starting Lineup:

C Jonathan Lucroy

805 G || .284/.342/.436 || 79 HR || 29 SB || 111 wRC+ || 35.3 fWAR

1B Prince Fielder

323 G || .280/.408/.518 || 70 HR || 2 SB || 148 wRC+ || 7.3 fWAR

2B Rickie Weeks

660 G || .250/.343/.431 || 88 HR || 46 SB || 112 wRC+ || 11.8 fWAR

3B Aramis Ramirez

455 G || .284/.342/.473 || 65 HR || 13 SB || 121 wRC+ || 9.4 fWAR

SS Jean Segura

478 G || .266/.302/.361 || 23 HR || 96 SB || 78 wRC+ || 3.9 fWAR

LF Ryan Braun

1,305 G || .294/.359/.519 || 241 HR || 166 SB || 133 wRC+ || 31.7 fWAR

CF Carlos Gomez

697 G || .267/.325/.452 || 87 HR || 152 SB || 111 wRC+ || 18.9 fWAR

RF Christian Yelich

277 G || .327/.415/.631 || 80 HR || 52 SB || 170 wRC+ || 15.4 fWAR

Behind the plate, we have the most valuable player of the decade by fWAR, Jonathan Lucroy. With his useful bat (especially for his position) and defensive chops highlighted by his outstanding pitch framing, Luc accrued 35.3 wins above replacement across his 805 games. First base was a black hole for several years following the departure of Prince Fielder, who was the top player of the decade at the cold corner despite playing only two seasons. Rickie Weeks and his tantalizing power/speed combination holds down the keystone, and the man who replaced Prince at the cleanup spot in the starting lineup — Aramis Ramirez — was the top player at the hot corner. Shortstop was another desolate spot during the decade; Jean Segura leads the way at the six, his total production buoyed mostly by his one great season with Milwaukee in 2013.

We do have a slate of stars across the outfield, however. Ryan Braun is the only man who played in the Menomonee Valley in each of the last 10 years, and the 2011 MVP leads the way in pretty much every counting stat for the 2010’s. In center field is the mercurial Carlos Gomez, who snapped the club’s 31-year Gold Glove drought by winning the award at his position in 2013, when he also posted 6.7 fWAR and finished 9th in MVP balloting. Finally, Milwaukee’s current superstar Christian Yelich lines up in right field. The 2018 MVP on the Senior Circuit and 2019 runner-up has posted two of the best seasons in franchise history back-to-back after arriving via trade, including the organization’s first two NL batting titles and a near triple crown.

Bench:

1B/OF Corey Hart

424 G || .279/.343/.514 || 87 HR || 19 SB || 130 wRC+ || 8.8 fWAR

CF Lorenzo Cain

332 G || .286/.359/.397 || 22 HR || 55 SB || 104 wRC+ || 8.4 fWAR

C Martin Maldonado

355 G || .217/.299/.342 || 28 HR || 2 SB || 72 wRC+ || 6.8 fWAR

IF Travis Shaw

382 G || .239/.335/.456 || 70 HR || 15 SB || 106 wRC+ || 6.3 fWAR

1B Eric Thames

383 G || .241/.343/.504 || 72 HR || 14 SB || 118 wRC+ || 5.0 fWAR

Corey Hart was an All-Star and one of the most productive offensive players of the decade; I was honestly surprised by his 130 wRC+ but he was a truly superlative hitter from 2010-2012 until a knee injury ended his tenure with Milwaukee prematurely. Lorenzo Cain — the highest paid free agent in team history — gets the nod as the other backup outfield spot. He finally won his long-deserved Gold Glove in 2019. Backup catcher goes to defensive stud Martin Maldonado, who paired effectively with Lucroy behind the plate for half the decade. Southpaw sluggers Travis Shaw and Eric Thames are the backup infielders, with Shaw providing versatility as a 1B/2B/3B and Thames supplying the ‘pop’ as a pinch-hit specialist. Shortstop was so bad across the decade that this Brewers team is going without a true backup to Segura.

Starting Rotation:

RHP Chase Anderson

590.0 IP || 3.83 ERA || 90 ERA- || 7.70 K/9 || 3.07 BB/9 || 10.6 RA9-WAR

RHP Zach Davies

614.1 IP || 3.91 ERA || 91 ERA- || 6.36 K/9 || 2.64 BB/9 || 9.6 RA9-WAR

RHP Yovani Gallardo

969.1 IP || 3.73 ERA || 95 ERA- || 8.37 K/9 || 3.11 BB/9 || 9.5 RA9-WAR

RHP Junior Guerra

416.2 IP || 3.78 ERA || 89 ERA- || 8.21 K/9 || 3.82 BB/9 || 6.4 RA9-WAR

RHP Jimmy Nelson

633.1 IP || 4.22 ERA || 102 ERA- || 8.21 K/9 || 3.41 BB/9 || 5.2 RA9-WAR

The Brewers had a few one-off seasons of studliness in their starting rotation (Greinke, Marcum, etc), but the club also had a handful of tenured hurlers who turned in above-average run prevention during the decade. When looking back for an exercise like this, I prefer to use RA9-WAR, as it is based on the actual runs that a pitcher did or did not allow rather than using metrics like FIP or DRA that say how a pitcher “should have” performed. With that in mind, Chase Anderson was actually generated the most value of all starting pitchers for the franchise during this past decade based on his volume of innings and run prevention totals compared to the rest of the league. Command specialist Zach Davies comes in right behind him. Yovani Gallardo’s ERA is the best among this group, but he benefited by pitcher during several seasons where the league’s run-scoring environment was especially depressed prior to the advent of the juiced baseball. Next is Our Hero, whose #2016BrewersAce season was tied for the second most valuable by a starting pitcher this past decade despite making only 20 starts and tossing 121.2 frames. Finally we have Jimmy Nelson, who was a middling starter for three years before truly breaking out in 2017, only to have his career derailed by a freak baserunning injury that wound up requiring surgery on his labrum, shoulder capsule, and rotator cuff to repair.

Bullpen:

RHP Jeremy Jeffress

304.2 IP || 2.66 ERA || 63 ERA- || 8.63 K/9 || 3.10 BB/9 || 7.6 RA9-WAR

LHP Josh Hader

204.2 IP || 2.42 ERA || 57 ERA- || 15.35 K/9 || 3.17 BB/9 || 7.2 RA9-WAR

RHP Corey Knebel

214.1 IP || 3.02 ERA || 73 ERA- || 13.02 K/9 || 3.99 BB/9 || 4.8 RA9-WAR

RHP Francisco Rodriguez

250.2 IP || 2.91 ERA || 74 ERA- || 9.55 K/9 || 2.84 BB/9 || 4.4 RA9-WAR

RHP Tyler Thornburg

219.2 IP || 2.87 ERA || 72 ERA- || 9.01 K/9 || 3.73 BB/9 || 3.7 RA9-WAR

RHP Carlos Torres

155.0 IP || 3.43 ERA || 79 ERA- || 7.78 K/9 || 3.66 BB/9 || 2.2 RA9-WAR

RHP John Axford

255.2 IP || 3.34 ERA || 84 ERA- || 10.88 K/9 || 4.01 BB/9 || 1.9 RA9-WAR

In terms of run prevention, Jeremy Jeffress’ 2018 season was arguably the finest season turned in by a reliever in franchise history. That helps push him ahead of Josh Hader for most valuable reliever of the past decade, although Hader owns the hardware as the NL’s top relief pitcher for two years running. Corey Knebel had one stellar season in his own right in 2017, and his capacity for accruing value was hurt while he was on the shelf with Tommy John surgery for all of 2019. K-Rod was the drug that Doug Melvin just couldn’t quit, as the former GM acquired or re-signed the right-hander five different times before David Stearns finally sent him away for good in December 2015. Carlos Torres’ outstanding 2016 season perhaps flies under the radar because it came during a rebuilding season, and he enjoyed an overall solid two-year run with the team. Lastly comes the Ax-man, who was the team’s closer during the NLCS run in 2011. His brutal 2012 and 2013 seasons (-1.7 RA9-WAR) really weigh down his overall value, but he gets the nod for the last spot in the bullpen over other candidates by virtue of saving 105 games during the 2010’s — the most of any Milwaukee relief pitcher during the last decade.


There you have it folks, the All-Decade team for the Milwaukee Brewers for the 2010’s. As a whole, that lineup looks pretty imposing, the starting rotation is solid, and there are the makings of a dominant bullpen.

Now, what do y’all think? Were there any egregious omissions or oversights? Who would you add and subtract from the Brew Crew Ball All-Decade team?

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs