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One Special Season: Average Brewers Who Played Out of Their Minds

by Tim Muma                                                             7/6/12
(Twitter:  @brewersblend)                                       11:00am





For the most part, Major League Baseball players are incredibly consistent from year-to-year in terms of production and statistics. Of course, there are often a couple peak years and a couple of down seasons, but overall they follow extremely similar trends.

However, there are those special years that seem to come out of nowhere and stick out like a sore thumb when compared to an athlete's career numbers. It's especially obvious when an average or mediocre player goes out of his mind and posts numbers normally saved for stars.

The Brewers' franchise is no different, and many of the best years of certain guys go unnoticed due to a bad season as a team - though it's not always the case. Below I've presented for you four of the more surprising seasons from players that normally were, well, okay at best.

Jaha was an All-Star and gained some
MVP votes for Oakland in 1999
1) JOHN JAHA (1996)

The Brewers finished 80-82 that season, but Jaha played like an MVP candidate at the age of 30. Though he did have a higher OPS in 1995 (.968), Jaha only played in 88 games that season.






.300 AVG/.398 OBP/.543 SLG/.941 OPS
34 HR
118 RBI (9th in AL)
108 Runs
85 BB
145 Games

Career Bests in '96: 636 Plate Appearances, 108 Runs, 163 H, 28 Doubles, 118 RBI, 295 Total Bases

Sure, he had a similar year in 1999 in Oakland, but he never really came close to the sort of overall production in Milwaukee like he did in '96. Jaha had 7 seasons where he played fewer than 90 games, and only that '99 season in Oakland did he eclipse 20 HR, 100 RBI or a .300 average. It would have been interesting to see what he could have been if he avoided the injury bug, as his 1996 campaign was extremely impressive.

Hall's pink bat walk-off HR on
Mother's Day was also in '06
2) BILL HALL (2006)

A fan favorite for a time, Hall was considered a top prospect before the Braun - Fielder - Hart - Weeks - Hardy group gained recognition. Hall was mostly used as a super utility player early in his career, but was given the chance to play regularly in '06 due to injury, starting 126 games at shortstop.




.270 AVG/.345 OBP/.533 SLG/.899 OPS
35 HR (t-10 in NL)
85 RBI
101 Runs
39 Doubles
2.2 defensive WAR (Wins Above Replacement; 0-2 = reserve player)

Career Bests in '06: 148 Games, 608 PA, 101 Runs, 39 Doubles, 35 HR, 85 RBI, 63 BB, .345 OBP, .553 SLG, .899 OPS, 5.6 WAR (All-Star Level)

Hall wouldn't come close to these numbers and became a whipping boy for many Brewers' fans, thanks in large part to his 4-year, $24 million contract he signed after his "one big year." Hall would fail to ever reach a .255 AVG, a .316 OBP, 18 HR, 63 RBI or 59 runs in a season. He has played for 5 different teams (besides Milwaukee) since 2009, never showing that 2006 form.

He always reminded me of Napoleon
 Dynamite - face and voice
3) DERRICK TURNBOW (2005)

Perhaps the ultimate scrap heap, one year wonder in the history of the franchise. Turnbow was thrust into the Brewers' closer's spot in 2005 and became an instant rock star. Suddenly discovering some command with his fastball and curve, Turnbow was one of the most dominant relievers of recent memory - but it really only lasted a single season.



1.74 ERA (5th in NL of pitchers with 20+ IP)
1.084 WHIP
2.67 SO/BB
3.2 BB/9
39 Saves (91% conversion) (t-5th in NL)
7-1 record
247 ERA+ (an average ERA+ is 100)

Career Bests in '05: 7 Wins, 1.74 ERA, 39 Saves, 1.084 WHIP, 3.2 BB/9, 247 ERA+

His lights out '05 clearly was a fluke or some sort of perfect storm of factors. He would be named an All-Star in 2006 thanks mainly to his stellar '05 season, but also due to a solid first half in '06. However, Turnbow completely blew up in the 2nd half with an ERA over 11, WHIP over 2.2 and a .976 OPS against.

Following his terrific '05 campaign, Turnbow only threw 130.2 innings in his career. His time as a Major Leaguer was done after 6.1 innings in 2008 at the age of 30, sporting a 15.63 ERA and a WHIP a shade under 4. He took Milwaukee by storm and blew away just as quickly.


Played all 11 yrs. with
Milwaukee: 81-90, 4.16
4) BILL WEGMAN (1991)

Wegman had a longer, more consistent career than the previous 3 guys mentioned, but he still was rather pedestrian in production. In 1991, however, he put everything together to post his best season at 28 years old.






2.84 ERA (3rd in AL)
1.117 WHIP (6th in AL)
0.7 HR/9
2.23 SO/BB
8.2 H/9
15-7 record
142 ERA+ (t-4th in AL)

Career Bests in '91:  15 Wins, .682 Win%, 2.84 ERA, 2 Shutouts, 1.117 WHIP, 8.2 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 7 Complete Games

Wegman had another good year in 1992 (throwing 261.1 innings) in helping the Brewers come within a few games of the division title and the eventual champion Toronto Blue Jays. Still, most of Wegman's rate stats were superior in '91, giving him a standout season among the rest. In no other season did Wegman have an ERA under 3.20 or give up fewer than 1 HR per 9 innings.

Wegman was a decent pitcher that could hold a spot in the middle to back of a rotation. Seeing that he threw over 190 innings in a season on 5 different occasions, Wegman was reliable - but 1991 was a special year for him.
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Hopefully you can remember and appreciate how good these guys were for one amazing season, even if the overall memories of them are rather so-so. It's important to grasp that any player who makes it to the Majors is supremely talented and capable of showing off these flashes of brilliance.

Please put down a few names in the comments section of players that you recall having a truly terrific season, especially if they were otherwise mediocre. Sometimes, in the words of Andy Pettitte, we "misremember" things from the past, including how good or bad our favorite (or most hated) players were.

7 comments:

  1. Pat Listach in 1992.

    -Geoff

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good work Tim.. lol i remember those days.. what about turner ward, angel miranda jeff juden ruben quevedo

    ReplyDelete
  3. That's a good call on Listach, Geoff. Rookie of the Year in '92 with 93 runs and 54 stolen bases and a .352 OBP. After that, highs were 51 runs, 25 stolen bases, .319 OBP in only 5 more seasons.

    Those other 4 guys that are listed really don't fall under the same category. Miranda had a decent rookie year (3.30 ERA, 1.267 WHIP, 2 complete games), but he never came close to the caliber of those others.

    Thanks for the comments. Let's keep them coming!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Bill Schroeder's .927 OPS in 1987 comes to mind, although he only had 270 PA that season, so that's probably more a product of the sample size. Still an impressive season though.

    Another guy I remember from back in the day was Paul Mirabella. Had a great 1988 season out of the bullpen. A 1.65 ERA a WHIP of 1.083 and WAR of 2.1. He certainly was nothing special any of his other seasons (though he was only with the Brewers for 4 years), but for one season he had it going (on an underrated Brewers team - everyone remembers '87 and '92, but the '88 team finished just 2 games out of first).

    Josh

    ReplyDelete
  5. Jeff D'amico.
    Career - 45-52 with a 4.61 ERA, 97 ERA+, 1.343 WHIP.

    2000 - 12-7, 2.66 ERA, and a 1.16 WHIP with a 171 ERA+.

    In that season he was 5th in the NL in WAR for pitchers, 3rd in ERA, 4th in WHIP, 2nd in ERA.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Lary Sorensen, 1978. 18-12, 3.21 ERA (ERA+ of 118), 280 innings pitched, 3 scoreless innings in the All-Star Game... but with only 78 strikeouts in 280 innings. Had a few other decent seasons, but he was basically a decent back-of-the-rotation type who lucked into a career year.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Awesome additions guys!

    Mirabella is an interesting one, but you're right, '88 was a great one for him.

    I remember thinking D'Amico was going to be a stud as he was making his way up, and that 2000 season got people excited. But, alas, injuries struck.

    I like the Sorenson pick. It's actually quite amazing he could have that ERA and ERA+ striking out just 2.5 hitters per 9 innings. Sometimes things just fall into place.

    I'd love to see some more - these were all great contributions.

    ReplyDelete


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