Hall of Greatness | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

The Disciples of Uecker Hall of Greatness was a project started in February 2013 and was designed to celebrate the greatest baseball players, announcers, managers and owners who have played for Milwaukee throughout the years.

The criteria for induction:

(1) Participants may vote for up to ten individuals per ballot, and ballots are not restricted to players. You may vote for players, announcers, managers or owners.

(2) The individual must have played in Milwaukee for at least three seasons.

(3) An individual needs 65% of the vote to be inducted into the DoU Hall of Greatness and must receive at least 5% of the vote to be included on next year’s ballot.

The current members of the DoU Hall of Greatness:

Bob Uecker played two years with the Milwaukee Braves in 1962 and 1963, but he has become a beloved part of Milwaukee’s baseball culture due to his long-time role as radio broadcaster for the Milwaukee Brewers. He has held the position since 1971 was named into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame in 2011. He was also named to the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2001 and received the Ford C. Frick Award in 2003. Brewers fans know Uecker for his vast knowledge of baseball, but love him for his storytelling and his humor. In 2012, the Brewers honored him with a bronze statue outside of Miller Park.

Hank Aaron played multiple outfield positions for the Milwaukee Braves throughout his tenure and eventually played some first base, as well. He hit an incredible .320/.376/.567 with 398 home runs between 1954 and 1965 with the Braves. He drove in 1305 runs and even swiped 149 bases in that time frame. It’s incredible to think Aaron compiled a .246 ISO with the Braves, while only striking out in 9.4% of his plate appearances. Sure, the game has changed over the years, but that’s essentially Ryan Braun type power with Ichiro Suzuki type contact skills at the plate. No wonder he had a career .403 wOBA an 153 wRC+.

Third baseman Eddie Mathews (+97.8 WAR) compiled the highest WAR in Milwaukee Braves history and may not get enough attention for just how dominant he was in Milwaukee. Only Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle had higher WARs between 1953 and 1965. Mathews hit the most home runs in Milwaukee Braves history with 452 and owned a staggering .385 on-base percentage over the course of 13 seasons and 8423 plate appearances. Not only that, but the man who grew up playing baseball in Santa Barbara, California also picked it pretty well at third base.

For some perspective, over the most-recent 13 seasons in Major League Baseball, no single player has a higher WAR. The closest player, Albert Pujols, only has a +91.6 WAR over the last 13 years. Just a tremendous career in Milwaukee for Eddie Mathews.

Left-hander Warren Spahn immediately made a name for himself in Cream City. The Braves moved to Milwaukee in 1953, and in that season Spahn twirled a 2.10 ERA over 265.2 innings and finished fifth in the MVP voting. He later won a Cy Young in 1957 and also finished second in the Cy Young voting three more times (1958, 1960, and 1961). His +44.2 WAR over his 12 seasons with the Milwaukee Braves ranked fifth in all of baseball, behind only Bob Friend, Robin Roberts, Don Drysdale, and Whitey Ford. He was known for his fastball early in his career, but he eventually developed a screwball and slider later in his career. Spahn could also swing the stick a little, hitting .208/.243/.325 with 28 home runs during his tenure in Milwaukee.

First baseman Joe Adcock spent ten years in Milwaukee from 1953 to 1962. He has the third-most home runs (239) in Milwaukee Braves history, including a banner year in 1956 in which he launched 38 long balls. He only made one All-Star appearance throughout his time with the Braves, despite hitting .285/.343/.511 and posting a .374 wOBA. His +31.6 WAR ranks fifth amongst Milwaukee Braves hitters. During the Braves’ 1957 Chapmionship season, however, he missed the majority of the season with a broken ankle that he injured sliding into second base. Adcock bounced back from the injury and went on to post three-consecutive four-win seasons between 1959 and 1961.

Lew Burdette is perhaps best known for tossing three complete-game victories (including a shutout on two-days rest) against the New York Yankees to win the World Series in 1957. Aside from that postseason lore, however, the right-hander was the second-best pitcher for the Braves throughout their time in Milwaukee. Burdette was known for his plus-command, as illustrated by his career 1.82 BB/9 walk rate with the Milwaukee Braves, and according to an old scouting report on Sports Illustrated, Burdette was known for “constantly fidgeting” on the mound. He largely relied on keeping the ball low in the zone with his sinker and screwball. Arguably, his best season in Milwaukee came in 1956, when he compiled a 2.70 ERA over 256.1 innings which included six shutouts and 16 complete games.

Del Crandall played catcher for the Milwaukee Braves from 1953 to 1963 and was one of the best catchers in baseball in the 1950s. He was known for his defense and power, and his 162 home runs ranked second amongst catchers only behind Yogi Berra over that time frame. Crandall was an eight-time All Star in Milwaukee and won four Gold Glove awards. His best season came in 1958, when he hit .272/.348/.457 with 18 home runs. Crandall was eventually traded to San Francisco in 1964 and later managed the Milwaukee Brewers from 1972 to 1975.

George Scott played first base for the Milwaukee Brewers for five seasons between 1972 and 1976, earning a Gold Glove in each of those seasons, and he was named to the 1975 All-Star Team. Among first basemen across Major League Baseball, only Willie Stargell of the Pittsburgh Pirates accumulated more wins above replacement (WAR) than Scott’s +23.3 WAR in the years he played in Milwaukee. Much of his value came via his glove — which he named “black beauty” —  but Scott also slugged 115 home runs with the Brewers. That powerful bat helped him earn the nickname “Boomer.” His best year came in 1975, when he led the American League in home runs (36) and runs batted in (106). He ultimately ended stint in Milwaukee with a .283/.342/.456 slash line and a 129 wRC+.

Third baseman Don Money became a household name among Brewers fans during the ’70s and early ’80s. He played 12 seasons in Milwaukee and has the fifth-highest cumulative WAR (+28.3) for position players in Brewers history. Though never a dominant player in his career, Money was a four-time All Star and posted eight double-digit home run seasons. Unlike many of the Brewers players who received votes on this ballot, his productive career is defined by his longevity, rather than a two- or three-year spurt of elite performance. Money further cemented his place in organizational history by becoming a minor-league manager with multiple Brewers’ affiliates. In 2007, he was voted Manager of the Year in the Southern League (Double-A) before accepting a promotion to Nashville. Most recently, the Brewers took Money away from the managerial ranks and named him Special Instructor of Player Development within the organization.

Mike Caldwell is the only pitcher to be inducted on this ballot. The left-hander is best remembered for his magical 1978 season, in which he posted a 2.36 ERA over 293.1 innings and finished second in the Cy Young Award voting. He also led the American League in complete games that season with 23 — including six complete-game shutouts. Caldwell followed up that incredible season with a solid 3.29 ERA over 235 innings and was once again one of the best pitchers in the American League. Such elite performance is rarely sustainable, however, and he spent his last five seasons in Milwaukee being a one- to two-win player. Caldwell rarely walked opposing hitters, finishing his Brewers career with a 1.98 BB/9 walk rate, and that stinginess helped him overcome an inability to strikeout hitters. Sorted by WAR, Caldwell is the fifth-best starting pitcher in franchise history.

Robin Yount is considered the greatest player to ever don a Milwaukee Brewers uniform. He played 20 seasons in Milwaukee and is the only two-time MVP in franchise history. He’s only a three-time All Star — which surprised me — and finished with a career .285/.342/.430 slash line. The 1982 season will always be a special season in Brewers history, but that was the year that really put Yount on the national map. He hit .331/.379/.578 with 29 home runs and compiled an otherworldly +10.5 WAR. Between 1974 and 1993, only six players had more wins above replacement than Yount. He was not only an elite player in Milwaukee, but he was one of the elite players of that generation. It’s only fitting that he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999.

Paul Molitor made his big-league debut with the Brewers in 1978 at only 21 years old, hitting .273/.301/.372 and finishing second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. He ultimately played 15 seasons in Milwaukee and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004. The Minnesota native played second and third base for the Brewers throughout his career, but he was never really known for his glove. Instead, he was known as one of the most professional hitters of the 1980s — finishing his career in Milwaukee with a .303/.367/.444 slash line. If it weren’t for Yount, Molitor would possibly be the leading candidate for best Milwaukee Brewers player in the history of the organization.

First baseman Cecil Cooper played six years for the Boston Red Sox to begin his professional career, but he didn’t become a feared hitter until he came to Milwaukee in 1977. His years between 1979 and 1983 were tremendous. In those five seasons, he hit .320/.359/.517 with 123 home runs and 535 RBI. He even stole 41 bases in that time frame. The only first basemen with more home runs in those five years were Eddie Murray and Dave Kingman. Unlike those two, though, Cooper rarely struck out with an 8.3% strikeout rate. Ultimately, he played 11 years with the Brewers, but it was that five-year stretch that made him an elite player in franchise history.

Gorman Thomas really struggled in his first four years in Milwaukee from 1973 to 1976. He showed some pop, but didn’t make enough contact to really matter. After an entire year in Triple-A Spokane in 1977 — where he hit 36 home runs in the Pacific Coast League — he returned to Milwaukee and became one of the best power-hitting players in baseball. Between 1978 and 1982 (his last full season with the Brewers), only Mike Schmidt hit more home runs than Thomas’ 175 homers. The South Carolina native led the league in home runs in 1979 and 1982. He hit for a low average and struck out a ton, but drew walks and hit for impressive power. He was the Carlos Pena of the late-70s and early-80s — which certainly caused him to stick out in a league that didn’t have many premier power hitters. Quite simply, Stormin’ Gorman was a three-true-outcomes type of player before that was fashionable.

Right-hander Rollie Fingers only spent four seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers, but they were memorable. He came to Milwaukee in 1981 and won both the Cy Young and the MVP, compiling a pristine 1.04 ERA in 78 innings and leading the league with 28 saves. Fingers was one of the premier closers in all of baseball throughout the 70s and 80s — and he simply brought those skills to Milwaukee in the early 80s. He saved 97 games in four years and finished with a 2.54 ERA, which includes an unsightly 5.04 ERA in his final season (when he was 38 years old). Fingers was a two-time All Star with the Brewers and was a large part of the legendary ’81 and ’82 teams. His statistics in Milwaukee would have only improved, too, if he wouldn’t have missed the 1983 season with an arm injury. Fingers was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992.

The Milwaukee Brewers drafted Jeff Cirillo in the 11th round of the 1991 amateur draft out of the University of Southern California. He made his major-league debut in 1994 and ultimately spent eight seasons with the Brewers, including a five-year hiatus between the 2000 and 2004 seasons. Known for a slick glove at third base and a plus hit tool, Cirillo finished his Brewers career with a .307/.383/.449 slash line and enjoyed three-consecutive seasons with more than +5.0 WAR starting in 1997 — which happened to be his only All-Star season in Milwaukee. It was perhaps the 1998 season that marked the high point of his career, though. He hit .321/.402/.445 with 14 home runs and 10 stolen bases, as well as phenomenal defense at third base. TotalZone ratings had him worth +16 runs defensively at third base that season. Cirillo now works as an analyst for the Milwaukee Brewers’ television broadcasts.

Geoff Jenkins was selected ninth-overall by the Milwaukee Brewers in the first round of the 1995 Draft, and he ultimately spent ten years in Milwaukee. Although he made his big-league debut in 1998, Jenkins burst onto the baseball scene in 1999 and 2000 with back-to-back four-win seasons. His 2000 season — in which he hit 34 home runs, scored 100 runs, and compiled a .396 wOBA — was arguably the best offensive season of his career. The California native is often overlooked due to only one All-Star appearance. He was extremely valuable for the Brewers, though. His defense was top-notch, and his +26.9 WAR ranks him as the 23rd-best outfielder between 1998 and 2007 (the years he was in Milwaukee).