The Brewers have been a franchise since 1969 and have used numerous different catchers throughout the years. Yasmani Grandal was signed this offseason to a huge contract and had high expectations to produce in Milwaukee as their everyday catcher. Grandal responded to the high expectations by having one of the greatest seasons the franchise has ever seen by a catcher. His extraordinary year raises the question, where does Grandal’s 2019 season rank among the greatest ever by a Brewer catcher?
15. Charlie Moore (1980)
Charlie Moore played in Milwaukee for 14 years and was the team’s primary catcher for just a few of those. In 1980, Moore played in 111 games and had 93 hits in 320 at-bats. He added 2 home runs, 30 RBIs, 13 doubles and 42 runs scored. Although the numbers don’t look like much, they were enough to get Moore’s 1980 season in the Top 15 of greatest ever by a Brewer catcher.
14. B.J. Surhoff (1987)
Surhoff exploded onto the scene as a 22-year-old rookie in 1987. He batted .299 with an OPS+ of 102. He hit 7 homers, batted in 68 runs, and scored 50 runs. In 1987, it looked like Surhoff was going to be one of the best catchers in the league for a long time.
13. Bill Schroeder (1987)
Most Brewer fans know Bill Schroeder as Milwaukee’s color commenter on FS Wisconsin but before that, he was a solid backup catcher for the Brewers. 1987 was easily his best season in Milwaukee. That year he only played in 75 games but he made a tremendous impact backing up the rookie, B.J. Surhoff. He hit .332 and had an OPS of .927 which are both elite numbers for an MLB hitter. He had 14 home runs, 42 RBIs, and 12 doubles in a very limited role. If Schroeder played in more than 75 games, his 1987 season would have been much higher than 13th.
12. Ellie Rodriguez (1972)
The 1972 Brewers only won 65 games but that was not due to poor play from their catcher. Ellie Rodriguez made the 1972 All-Star Game and joined guys like Rod Carew, Willie Stargell, and Hank Aaron in the summer classic. This was Rodriguez’s second All-Star appearance but his first as a Brewer. In 1972, he batted .285 with an OPS+ of 123 which was the best mark of his career. He also added 35 RBIs, 14 doubles, and 31 runs en route to the 12th best season by a Brewer catcher.
11. Charlie Moore (1979)
Charlie Moore finds himself on the list again, but this time a little bit higher. In 1979, he hit .300 and added 5 home runs, 38 RBIs and 45 runs scored. The Brewers were just starting their run of consecutive solid seasons and Moore was a big part of that.
10. Johnny Estrada (2007)
To start of the Top 10, we finally get our first player from this century in Johnny Estrada. A former All-Star with the Atlanta Braves, the Brewers we’re getting Estrada in 2007 as a one year rental. Estrada made the most of it by batting .278 with an OPS of .699. He hit 10 homers, added 54 RBIs, 25 doubles, and 40 runs scored. Estrada was traded in the next offseason for reliever, Guillermo Moto, and was out of the league by mid-season of 2008.
9. Jonathan Lucroy (2012)
One cannot simply make a list of greatest Brewers’ catchers seasons without fan favorite, Jonathan Lucroy. 2012 was Lucroy’s breakout season in the majors, he hit a remarkable .320 with an OPS+ of 132 in 96 games. A great season no doubt, but it could have been better if Lucroy played more than 96 games.
8. B.J. Surhoff (1991)
B.J. Surhoff is back on the list at number eight. In 1991, Surhoff played in 143 games and hit .289 with 5 home runs and 68 RBIs. He registered 146 hits that season and scored 57 runs thanks to teammates like Greg Vaughn, Dante Bichette, and Robin Yount.
7. Dave Nilsson (1994)
The Australian born catcher had himself a fantastic season in 1994. He hit .275 with 12 homers, 69 RBIs, 28 doubles, and 51 runs scored. It was Nilsson’s best season to date that the 53-win Brewers desperately needed.
6. Dave Nilsson (1999)
In 1999 Dave Nilsson became the first Australian born player to become an MLB All-Star. After a few seasons off of being Milwaukee’s primary catcher, Nilsson resumed the role in 1999. Surprisingly, 1999 was Nilsson’s final season in the MLB even though it was his best. He hit 21 home runs, which is very good for a catcher, and drove in 62 runs. He also had a batting average of .309 with an OPS of .954 and an OPS+ of 141 which was higher than guys like Todd Helton, Mike Piazza, and Luis Gonzalez. Nilsson has a season for the books in 1999 but it still wasn’t enough to crack the top five.
5. Jonathan Lucroy (2013)
Lucroy followed up his breakout season in 2012 with a dominant 2013 campaign. He played in 147 games and batted .280 with 18 home runs and a career high, 82 RBIs. This was the season that solidified Lucroy’s place as one of the best catchers in the National League.
4. Yasmani Grandal (2019)
Grandal’s first season in Milwaukee has been phenomenal. As of September 16th, Grandal has an .869 OPS with 27 homers and 72 RBIs. He made the 2019 All-Star game and is having the greatest season of his career. Grandal has been one of the main reasons Milwaukee is still in the playoff race in Mid-September.
3. Ted Simmons (1982)
1982 was the most successful season in Brewer franchise history. The 82’ squad was led offensively by Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Cecil Cooper, Gorman Thomas and the often forgotten, Ted Simmons. In 1982, Simmons had already established himself as one of the best power hitting catchers in the entire MLB. His name was often put in the group of all-time great catchers of his time like, Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter, and Lance Parrish. In 82’, Simmons hit .269 with an OPS of .759. He hit 23 home runs, 29 doubles and had 97 RBIs. Without Ted Simmons, Milwaukee’s catcher would have been an afterthought during their World Series run.
2. Jonathan Lucroy (2014)
Lucroy made his first All-Star game in 2014 while leading the entire league in doubles with 53. He also scored 73 runs, hit 13 homers, and drove in 69 RBIs. He had a batting average of .301 with an OPS+ of 131. Also, what makes 2014 even more impressive for Lucroy is that he played in 153 games. Many catchers take regularly scheduled off days but Lucroy didn’t which made him even more valuable. He finished 4th in MVP voting in 2014 behind Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton, and Clayton Kershaw.
1. Ted Simmons (1983)
The greatest season in Brewer catcher history goes to Ted Simmons’ 1983 season. He finished 6th in the AL in RBIs with 108 while hitting 13 home runs. He also rocked 39 doubles which was good for 8th in the American League and had an elite batting average of .308. Simmons made his 8th and final All-Star game in 1983 and was perhaps the most effective player for the Brewers during the season.