One tidbit of news emerged from Royals’ camp, as manager Whitey Herzog brought in his one-time Kansas City A’s teammate Roger Maris to give the team some tips on power hitting. As a group in 1976, Royals hitters had barely bested Maris’ single-season record for home runs, with a slight 65-61 advantage. Herzog specifically mentioned first baseman John Mayberry, who had dropped from the franchise record 34 dingers in 1975 to just 13 in 1976.
Of course, home runs aren’t everything, or at least they weren’t in 1976. That was proven by the last-place finishers in the AL East, the Milwaukee Brewers, who did hit 88 bombs, good for sixth place in the league. But the Brewers were lousy in just about every other offensive category, scoring just 570 runs, coming in 11th in that stat. Milwaukee was definitely stronger on the pitching side, but still below league average with a 3.64 ERA and 4.07 runs allowed per game.
The Brewers did make some offseason moves in an attempt to improve. They signed free agent third baseman Sal Bando and traded for first baseman Cecil Cooper. They also made a trade with the Royals that wouldn’t turn out so well, sending catcher Darrell Porter to Kansas City with pitcher Jim Colborn for outfielder Jim Wohlford, catcher Jamie Quirk, and pitcher Bob McClure.
Milwaukee was another team counting on a youth movement, spearheaded by shortstop Robin Yount, who had already put up three decent seasons at age 21. He was joined by catcher Charlie Moore, outfielder Sixto Lezcano, and pitchers Bill Travers and Jerry Augustine.
The Brewers were going to play the 1977 season under a cloud after pitcher Danny Frisella died in a dune buggy accident near his Phoenix home on January 1. Little was expected from the Brew Crew, with another finish near the bottom of the division predicted by most observers.