Earlier this week, we unveiled our plans to start a Disciples of Uecker Hall of Greatness — a community-driven ode to the greatest baseball players/managers/owners who have ever donned a jersey in Milwaukee.
It’s certainly an ambitious project, so we decided to separate the voting this year into eras. Readers (and the DoU staff) will be able to vote for up to ten individuals in each of the following eras of Milwaukee baseball: the Braves, the ‘70s, the ‘80s, the ‘90s, and the 2000s. We opted to follow the current Miller Park Walk of Fame guidelines, which state an individual must garner 65% of the vote to be inducted, must receive at least 5% of the vote to remain on the ballot in subsequent years, and must have spent at least three seasons in Milwaukee.
With that in mind, the voting period has closed for the first official ballot for the DoU Hall of Greatness, and the results are in for the Milwaukee Braves era.
Six players will be inducted into the DoU Hall of Greatness: Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn, Joe Adcock, Lew Burdette, and Del Crandall. That includes three unanimous selections in Aaron, Spahn, and Mathews, which isn’t unexpected considering all three are already enshrined in Cooperstown.
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+.
Prior to this project, if you had asked me to name the Milwaukee Braves with the highest overall batting WAR, it wouldn’t have taken long for me to respond, “Hank Aaron.” The vast majority of you would have answered the same. Well, we all would have been incorrect.
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.
Johnny Logan (57.69%) and Joe Torre (42.31%) were the next closest to breaking the 65% threshold for induction into the DoU Hall of Greatness.
Here are the complete voting totals:
|Player||% of Vote|
Despite receiving votes, some individuals did not overcome the 5% needed and will not be eligible on next year’s ballot. They include: Felix Mantilla, Red Schoendienst, Don McMahon, Frank Torre, and Lou Perini. Lee May and John Quinn narrowly avoided missing the 2014 ballot and will need more support to avoid slipping beneath the 5% threshold.
Check back on Thursday morning for the upcoming ballot, which will span the 1970s in Brewers baseball.