Best Rotations In Brewers History

When Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies, we heard a lot of talk about Philadelphia fielding one of the best rotations in baseball history. While the combined 2010 rWAR for Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, and Joe Blanton of 20.3 would certainly put them up there, it’s probably wise to see how the season actually plays out before we give them that title. It did get me thinking, though — who were some of the best rotations in Brewers history?

I went through the team encyclopedia on Baseball Reference year-by-year, noting the WAR totals for the five pitchers who made the most starts every year in team history. I put the spreadsheets up on Google Docs if you’re interested in going through the individual numbers yourself, but the breakdown is after the jump.

Year – Combined rWAR
1992 – 16.1
1986 – 15.7
1979 – 14.3
1987 – 14.1
1976 – 13.3
1978 – 13.3
1988 – 13.0
1991 – 12.2
1996 – 11.4
2004 – 11.3

2008 – 11.1
2006 – 11.0
2005 – 10.5
1971 – 10.3
1989 – 10.0
1980 – 9.9
1994 – 8.9
1985 – 8.5
1990 – 8.5
1973 – 8.1

1995 – 7.8
1997 – 7.8
1977 – 7.3
2007 – 7.2
1984 – 7.0
1993 – 6.4
2000 – 6.2
1983 – 6.1
1974 – 5.6
1975 – 4.5

1970 – 4.0
1982 – 4.0
1999 – 3.1
2010 – 2.2
1998 – 1.1
2002 – 0.6
1981 – 0.3
1972 – 0
2001 – 0
2003 – 0
2009 – -5.9

So, according to Baseball Reference’s version of WAR, the 1992 Brewers had the best rotation in club history (Wegman-Navarro-Bosio-Bones-Eldred), and they’d still be 4 wins worse than what the 2011 Phillies could possibly produce. Perhaps the most suprising thing to me, though, was just how bad the 2009 rotation was. Sitting through that season, you knew it was brutal, but the worst rotation in the team’s 40+ year history? Nearly 6 wins below replacement level?

The 2010 rotation was still one of the worst rotations in club history, but it still represented an 8.1 win improvement over the previous season. Another 8-win improvement, while seemingly unlikely, would move the rotation into the 10-20 range in club history.

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