August 21, 1970 |
South Bend, Indiana
|Batted: Left||Threw: Right|
|September 17, 1995 for the Colorado Rockies|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 28, 2011 for the Milwaukee Brewers|
|Runs batted in||390|
|Career highlights and awards|
Counsell is best known for his playoff performances in 1997 with the Florida Marlins and in 2001 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He has the distinction of having been on base for the last two times that the World Series ended with a walk-off hit, and was named the NLCS Most Valuable Player in 2001. He is also known for his unique batting stance, where he would hold his bat very high, with his hands over his head.
Counsell was born in South Bend, Indiana. He grew up in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, and attended Whitefish Bay High School, where he played baseball. His father worked for the Milwaukee Brewers. He attended college at the University of Notre Dame, where he played for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish baseball team.
After playing only one game with the Rockies, Counsell was traded to the Florida Marlins for Mark Hutton in late July 1997. He immediately became the regular starter at second base and contributed significantly to the Marlins' World Series championship that year.
In June 1999, the Marlins traded Counsell to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a player to be named later (minor leaguer Ryan Moskau). The Dodgers released Counsell during 2000 spring training, and he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. This first stint with the Diamondbacks lasted four years, during which Counsell again contributed significantly to a World Series championship in 2001.
After the 2003 season, the Diamondbacks traded Counsell to the Milwaukee Brewers with Chris Capuano, Chad Moeller, Lyle Overbay, Jorge de la Rosa and Junior Spivey for Richie Sexson, Shane Nance and a player to be named later (minor leaguer Noochie Varner). With the Brewers, Counsell started at shortstop in 2004. After one season with the Brewers, Counsell returned to the Diamondbacks as a free agent for two more seasons. In front of a sold out crowd on his final game with the Arizona Diamondbacks on October 1, 2006, Counsell hit a solo home run, his fourth of the season.
Counsell returned to the Brewers as a free agent for 2007 and filled the role of utility infielder. He recorded his 1,000th career hit on August 16, 2008 against Derek Lowe of the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 2011, he was the fourth-oldest player in the National League, and had the second-best career fielding percentage of all active second basemen (.991).
From June 11 to August 3, 2011, Counsell tied the all-time record for consecutive at bats without a base hit for a position player, going hitless over a streak of 45 at bats as a bench player and spot starter. The record was set by notoriously poor hitter Bill Bergen in 1909, and later tied by Infielder Dave Campbell in 1973; though it had been reported Bergen's streak was 46 games, subsequent research definitively established Bergen's streak stopped at 45, meaning that Counsell tied but did not break the record. The record was broken only a few weeks after Counsell tied it, by Eugenio Vélez of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Velez rung up his record-breaking 46th consecutive hitless at-bat in what was, to date, his final major league game on September 28, 2011—coincidentally, the very same day Counsell ended his major league playing career (singling off Daniel McCutchen in his only at-bat).
By the SAFE: Spatial Aggregate Fielding Evaluation method of evaluating defense, Counsell was both the highest-rated 2nd baseman and the highest-rated 3rd baseman over the period from 2002 to 2008, with an average runs saved of 10.18 and 5.86, respectively.
Counsell won the 2001 National League Championship Series MVP award while on his first tenure with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Counsell was on-base for the winning scoring plays of two World Series Game 7's. He scored the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning of Game 7 of the 1997 World Series for the Marlins on an Edgar Rentería single over pitcher Charles Nagy's head, after tying that game in the bottom of the ninth with a sacrifice fly. He was also hit by a pitch by Mariano Rivera to load the bases for Luis Gonzalez in the bottom of the 9th inning of Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, after which Gonzalez drove in the winning run for the Diamondbacks, a bloop single over the drawn-in infield which ended the Yankees hopes of four straight World Series titles.
Front office career
In early 2012, Counsell retired as a professional baseball player to take a front office position with the Milwaukee Brewers. Counsell will serve as special assistant to general manager Doug Melvin.
Counsell has also spent off-seasons coaching middle school basketball at University School of Milwaukee.
He and his wife Michelle have 4 children, sons Brady and Jack and daughters Finley and Rowen.
- "2011 National League Awards, All-Stars, & More Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
- "Active Leaders & Records for Fielding % as 2B". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
- "SN names the 20 smartest athletes in sports". Sporting News. September 27, 2010.
- . "SABR article". SABR article. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
- "SAFE: Spatial Aggregate Fielding Evaluation". Stat.wharton.upenn.edu. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
- Brewers' Craig Counsell retires
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube