The Bucks have been one of the NBA’s basement dwellers for a long time. It was not until last year where they had a legitimate chance to make the second round in the Eastern Conference. This year is a different story, with Giannis Antetokounmpo running the show, Milwaukee beat the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the playoffs. This is the first time they have made the second round since 2001 when Ray Allen and Glenn Robinson were the big dogs. For nostalgia purposes and because it’s fun to see how far Milwaukee teams have come, I dove into what the Brewers looked like last time the Bucks were this good. Make sure you read the whole article, there are definitely some names that will bring back all the feels. Ladies and gentleman, your 2001 Milwaukee Brewers.
Record: 68-94, 4th in the NL Central behind the Astros (Led by Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt), Cardinals (Led by Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, Placido Polanco, Matt Morris) and Cubs (Led by Sammy Sosa, Eric Young, Rondell White, Kerry Wood)
Run Differential: -66
Manager: Davey Lopes
Lopes coached the Brewers in 2000, 2001, and for 15 games (he was fired after Milwaukee started the season 3-12) in 2002. He finished his Brewer managerial career with a 144-195 record. The best his team ever finished was 3rd in the NL Central. This was his one and only managerial stint.
Jamey Wright: GS – 33 : W – 11 : L – 12 : ERA – 4.90 : IP – 194.2 : SO – 129 : WHIP – 1.536 : WAR – 0.4
Jimmy Haynes: GS – 29 : W – 8 : L – 17 : ERA – 4.85 : IP – 172.2 : SO – 112 : WHIP – 1.506 : WAR – 0.9
Ben Sheets: GS – 25 : W – 11 : L – 10 : ERA – 4.76 : IP – 151.1 : SO – 94 : WHIP – 1.414 : WAR – 0.6
Allen Levrault: GS – 20 : W – 6 : L – 10 : ERA – 6.06 : IP – 130.2 : SO – 80 : WHIP – 1.569 : WAR – -1.1
Paul Rigdon: GS – 15 : W – 3 : L – 5 : ERA – 5.79 : IP – 79.1 : SO – 49 : WHIP – 1.664 : WAR – -0.2
The 2001 Brewer starting rotation was one of the youngest in the league with an average age of 24 years old. This age showed because the Brewer starters finished with an abysmal average ERA of 5.27. If anybody was to blame for Milwaukee’s poor 68 win season, it was the starting pitching. The only good thing to come out of the starters was the rookie season of, Ben Sheets. Sheets ended up having a very nice career where he made 4 all star games with the Crew and is considered one of the most popular Brewer pitchers of all-time. The only other starter to have any sort of success in the league after 2001 was Jamey Wright who ended playing 13 more years in the bigs.
Mike DeJean: G – 75 : ERA – 2.77 : IP – 84.1 : SO – 68 : SV – 2 : WHIP – 1.352 : WAR – 1.4
Chad Fox: G – 65 : ERA – 1.89 : IP – 66.2 : SO – 80 : SV – 2 : WHIP – 1.200 : WAR – 2.3
Curt Leskanic: G – 70 : ERA – 3.63 : IP – 69.1 : SO – 64 : SV – 17 : WHIP – 1.356 : WAR – 0.9
David Weathers: G – 52 : ERA – 2.03 : IP – 57.2 : SO – 46 : SV- 4 : WHIP – 1.075 : WAR – 2.0
Ray King: G – 82 : ERA – 3.60 : IP – 55.0 : SO – 49 : SV – 1 : WHIP – 1.345 : WAR – 1.0
As bad as the starting pitching was, the Milwaukee bullpen was a nice change of pace in 2001. For the most part they were lights out combining for an ERA of 2.78. To put it in perspective last year’s 5 main bullpen guys on the Crew combined for an ERA of 2.95. Players like Mike DeJean, David Weathers, and Ray King all had solid careers after 2001.
Catcher: Henry Blanco
AB – 314 : BA – .210 : OPS – .634 : HR- 6 : RBI – 31 : R – 33
With Henry Blanco his offensive numbers were very underwhelming. However, he played in the MLB until he was 41 years old because of his consistency behind the dish. Even in 2001 he had a very good CS% of 42% which was a year off of his career high 58%. Albeit, Yadier Molina isn’t retired yet, but Blanco had more 40%+ CS% seasons than him. Blanco played 16 years for 11 different teams meaning he was an ultimate journeyman after 2 years with Milwaukee.
First Baseman: Richie Sexson
AB – 598 : BA – .271 : OPS – .889 : HR – 45 : RBI – 125 : R- 94
The 2001 Milwaukee Brewers MVP was none other than the 6’7” monster at first base, Richie Sexson. At the end of the season he was 9th in the MLB in home runs and 5th out of all first basemen. Also, he was 11th in RBIs which ranked 6th out of first baseman. In 3 and 1/3 seasons with Milwaukee Sexson hit a remarkable 133 home runs (over 1/3 of his career total), 398 RBIs and was selected to his only two career All-Star games. After his years with the Brewers he went on to play for the Diamondbacks, Mariners, and Yankees but never quite reached the success he did with the Brewers.
Second Baseman: Ronnie Belliard
AB – 364 : BA – .264 : OPS – .788 : HR – 11 : RBI – 36 : R – 69
The Brewers got a hold of Ronnie Belliard right before he hit his prime. Milwaukee had him as their second baseman from his age 23 season all the way through his age 27 season. However, it wasn’t until the next year when Belliard was with Colorado that he hit his stride in the league. After Milwaukee found a new second baseman, Belliard played 8 more years in the bigs averaging .278 at the plate with a .336 OBP. He also averaged 11 home runs, 53 RBIs, 28 doubles, and 55 runs. These averages compare to Belliard’s absolute best season (1999) with the Brewers. To add to his personal legacy even more, he won a World Series and made 1 All-Star game after the Brewers.
Shortstop: Jose Hernandez
AB – 542 : BA – .249 : OPS – .743 : HR – 25 : RBI : 78 : R – 67
When it comes to shortstops, Jose Hernandez had a very good season at the plate. He had more home runs and RBIs than Derek Jeter and a better OPS than 5x All-Star, Edgar Renteria. Hernandez started his career in 1991 when he was 21 years old but by the time the Brewers got him, it was looking like his best years were behind him. This proved to be incorrect because his three years in Milwaukee were his best. He even made his only All-Star appearance one year after 2001. The only knock on Hernandez in 2001 was his defense which was below average. He committed 18 errors which was 17th worst in the league. Great hitting (Besides the fact he led the league in strikeouts) and so-so defense was the case with the Brewers shortstop in 2001.
Third Baseman: Tyler Houston
AB – 235 : BA – .289 : OPS – .815 : HR – 12 : RBI – 38 : R – 36
Third base was a cluster for Milwaukee in 2001 until they found their guy in Tyler Houston. They tried guys like Luis Lopez and Mark Coolbaugh but none of them stuck until Houston made his mark at the plate. Houston was starting to fall out of the league until 2001 was able to buy him two more years. For his final years he played for the Brewers, Dodgers, and Phillies.
Utility Man: Mark Loretta
AB – 384 : BA – .289 : OPS – .698 : HR – 2 : RBI – 29 : R – 40
Before beloved utility players like Craig Counsell, Junior Spivey, and Bill Hall, there was a man before them. Mark Loretta did it all for the Brewers in 2001. He played second, third, shortstop, and he even pitched an inning (he struck out 2 and gave up 0 runs). Loretta had a very nice 15 year career where he hit for an average of .295. He made 2 All-Star games (one with San Diego and one with Boston) and won a silver slugger award. Loretta was the epitome of what a utility player should be. Perhaps, he was one of the most useful players on the 2001 Brewers despite having no solidified position.
Left Field: Geoff Jenkins
AB – 397 : BA – .264 : OPS – .808 : HR – 20 : RBI – 63 : R – 60
What can I say that hasn’t already been said about Geoff Jenkins? He played in Milwaukee for 10 years and gave the city everything he had even if his teams weren’t the best. He was the Brewers first round pick in the 1995 draft and never failed to live up to expectations. Geoff Jenkins was awesome. He was a fan favorite who could hit the ball as well as anybody and throw someone out from the warning track with his canon of an arm. In the 10 years Jenkins played in Milwaukee he hit 212 home runs (average of 21 per year), 704 RBIs (average of 70), 287 doubles (average close to 29 per year) all while hitting an average of .277. For 10 years, I would say that’s very good. I could go on and on about how much I love Geoff Jenkins, but I have to move on to the next starter on the 2001 Brewers.
Center Field: Devon White
AB – 390 : BA – .277 : OPS – .802 : HR – 14 : RBI – 47 : R – 52
Devon White played for the Brewers in his last season of his 17 year career. Even though he was 38 he still provided a decent bat and speed on the base paths (He stole 18 bases on 21 attempts in 2001). Also, White had a very good glove out in center. During his career, he won 7 Gold Gloves while also winning 3 World Series and making 3 All-Star appearances. It’s a shame that Blue Jay fans got to see him in his prime and not Brewer fans.
Right Field: Jeromy Burnitz
AB – 562 : BA – .251 : OPS – .851 : HR – 34 : RBI – 100 : R – 104
The best thing about Jeromy Burnitz is that we got him in the prime of his career. For 5 1/8 years, Milwaukee got to see Burnitz juice 165 home runs. He was a power hitter through and through who also had surprising speed and very good plate discipline. Burnitz played for 5 teams after his stint in Milwaukee but could never find the same success. Burnitz was an excellent option to have bat right before Richie Sexson.
The 2001 Milwaukee Brewers had a lineup that could go up against anybody in the league, but the starting pitching situation proved to be the team’s downfall. Wait…maybe the 2019 Brewers have something in common with the 2001 Brewers…