The Brewers of the ’90s and early 2000s had some great individual players. These players were legitimate sluggers, on-base machines, and big game pitchers. However, there was not enough talent to go around for these players to end the playoff drought and experience October baseball in Milwaukee. Here are some of these all-Brewer players who were never a part of a Milwaukee post-season.
In the early ’90s, Greg Vaughn was the Brewers biggest power hitter. In his eight Brewer seasons, Vaughn launched 169 homeruns. He was not only a power hitter, but a fan favorite, who had a “Vaughn’s Valley” section in the bleachers in left field. When he was traded in the middle of the 1996 season, upset fans tore the Vaughn’s Valley sign off the top of leftfield bleachers. Vaughn went on to help the Padres make two post-season runs (once even hitting 50 homeruns) while the Marc Newfield and other prospects the Brewers received in the trade did not have long careers.
John Jaha was another Brewer slugger who for several seasons played in the lineup with Vaughn. When healthy there was no one with more power on the club. In 1996 playing in 148 games, Jaha smashed 34 homeruns and drove in 118 runs. However, the problem with Jaha was remaining on the field. In five of his seven Brewers seasons, he missed significant time due to injury. Many of these injuries were gruesome, including a time he was carted off the field on a stretcher. He currently ranks 17th in all-time homeruns for the franchise with much fewer at-bats than most on the list. After his seven years in Milwaukee, Jaha signed a free agent deal with the Oakland Athletics. Through his career he never played in the post season.
Jeff Cirillo is one of the best hitters in Brewers history. His .307 career batting average is second in the franchise, just behind Ryan Braun. During his first stint with the club, Cirillo batted over .320 three times. He was also one of the slickest fielding third basemen. After being traded to the Rockies and signing a free agent contract with Seattle and San Diego, Cirillo return to the Brewers in 2005 in a bench role. He was a veteran who was able to give a professional at bat each time he stepped up to the plate. Finally, in 2007 he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks where he was able to appear in the post-season.
As a first round pick, Jeff D’Amico quickly made his way to Milwaukee. His sharp breaking, curveball was constantly able to keep hitters offbalance. However D’Amico, much like Jaha, was unable to stay on the field often, missing almost three full seasons due to injury. He posted his best season in 2000 when he had a 2.66 ERA, which ranks as the seventh best single-season by a Brewer pitcher. After five seasons with the Brewers, D’Amico played for the Pirates, Indians, and Mets. He was never able to see the post season.
In his time with the Milwaukee Brewers, Fernando Vina was a sparkplug. Batting at the top of the order, Vina was not afraid to turn into pitches to get on base. In the field, he was one of the quickest to turn a double play in franchise history, and he showed in a run in with Albert Belle that though he was small he was not afraid to back down. His career .288 Brewer batting average ranks eighth all-time. After his time with the Brewers, Vina made several post-season runs with the St. Louis Cardinals, but he was never able to make it to a World Series.
When Geoff Jenkins was drafted in the first round of the 1995 draft, he was expected to be a power hitting outfielder. In his time with the Brewers, he was one of the most feared sluggers on the team. During ten Brewer seasons, Jenkins high leg-kicking swing accounted 212 homeruns. Currently that ranks third best in club history (one ahead of Braun). He not only hit with power, but he had an outstanding throwing arm. His arm accounted for double-digit outfield assists five times. Jenkins lost many at-bats in his prime due to wrist, shoulder, and a crushing ankle injury. After leaving the Brewers, Jenkins played one season with the Phillies, where he went on to win a World Series title.
Ben Sheets had the skills to not only be one of the best Brewers in club history, but also one of the best in the game. He leads the franchise in strikeouts, and he is tied for fifth in both ERA and wins. When he was on, he was untouchable. His best performance came against the Atlanta Braves when he struck out a franchise record 18 batters in a complete game victory. The problem with Sheets, like many others was that he could not stay on the field long enough. In 2008, Sheets best season with the Brewers, he started the all-star game, but went on the disabled list at season’s end. That October as the club ended their playoff drought, Sheets had to watch from the bench. After that season, he pitched he pitched for the A’s and the Braves.
Statistics Provided by Baseball Reference
References: Brewers Leaders Baseball Reference