Craig Counsell
Counsell at the 2015 Winter Meetings
Chicago Cubs – No. 30
Infielder / Manager
Born: (1970-08-21) August 21, 1970 (age 53)
South Bend, Indiana, U.S.
Batted: Left
Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 17, 1995, for the Colorado Rockies
Last MLB appearance
September 28, 2011, for the Milwaukee Brewers
MLB statistics
Batting average.255
Home runs42
Runs batted in390
Managerial record707–625
Winning %.531
As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards

Craig John Counsell (born August 21, 1970) is an American former professional baseball player and current manager for the Chicago Cubs of Major League Baseball. He was previously the manager for the Milwaukee Brewers and holds the Brewers’ franchise record for managerial wins. He led the team to five of their nine all-time postseason appearances.

Counsell was an infielder who played 16 seasons in MLB for five teams, and was known for his unique batting stance. He had several notable postseason performances, winning the World Series in 1997 with the Florida Marlins and in 2001 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Counsell 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.

Early life

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, John, worked for the Milwaukee Brewers as their director of the speakers bureau and community relations. Counsell attended the University of Notre Dame, where he played for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish baseball team.[1][2] He was an infielder for the Irish, with a career batting average of .306, 204 runs, 166 RBI, 50 doubles and twice as many walks (166) as strikeouts (82), graduating in 1992.[3]

Professional career

The Colorado Rockies selected Counsell in the 11th round of the 1992 MLB Draft. He made his MLB debut with the Rockies on September 17, 1995, appearing in only three games that season. The Rockies traded Counsell to the Florida Marlins for Mark Hutton in July 1997. He immediately became the Marlins' starting second baseman. 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 Édgar Rentería single over pitcher Charles Nagy's head, after tying the game in the bottom of the ninth with a sacrifice fly.[4]

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. His stay with the Diamondbacks lasted four years. Counsell batted 8-for-21 in the 2001 National League Championship Series (NLCS), and won the NLCS Most Valuable Player Award.[5] He was 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.[6]

Counsell batting for the Milwaukee Brewers

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.[7]

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.[8] 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).[9][10] In 2009, Counsell gained more regular playing time due to injuries and inconsistent play from other Brewers players, and had a .285 batting average, along with 8 triples, finishing in the top 10 in the National League in the latter category.

In 2010, Counsell was chosen as the 13th-smartest athlete in sports by Sporting News.[11]

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. It had been reported Bergen's streak was 46 at bats; however, subsequent research definitively established that Bergen's streak stopped at 45, meaning that Counsell tied but did not break the record.[12] The record was broken only a few weeks after Counsell tied it, by Eugenio Vélez of the Los Angeles Dodgers.[13]

Batting stance

For much of his career, Counsell had a batting stance that was very distinctive, usually holding his bat high, with his arms fully extended above his head. As he reached the end of his career, Counsell lowered his bat more in his stance, though he would nearly have his back to the pitcher, to where the number on his back was almost completely visible to the pitcher. Counsell also didn't wear batting gloves for the majority of his career, with the exception of his rookie season and his final season.


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.[14]

Post-playing career

In early 2012, Counsell retired as a professional baseball player, and took a front office position with the Brewers. Counsell served as special assistant to general manager Doug Melvin.[15] In 2014, Counsell was named a part-time color analyst for Brewers radio broadcasts. He rotated with Darryl Hamilton and Jerry Augustine to call games with Joe Block when primary announcer Bob Uecker was absent.[16]

Managerial career

Milwaukee Brewers

On May 4, 2015, Counsell was hired by the Brewers to become their manager after Ron Roenicke was fired the day before. He signed a three-year contract with the team.[17] The Brewers, going through a rebuild, went 61–76 and 73–89 under Counsell in his first two seasons as manager.[18]

In 2017, the team went on a surprising run, going 86–76. They finished 2nd in the NL Central, falling one win short of a wild card berth. Counsell finished 4th in NL Manager of the Year voting.

In their 2018 campaign, the Brewers went 96-67 under Counsell in the regular season, and won the NL Central by defeating the Chicago Cubs by a score of 3–1 in a tiebreaker game.[19] In 2018 he was successful on a lower percentage of replay challenges than any other MLB manager with 10 or more challenges, at 20.6%.[20] The Brewers advanced to the National League Championship Series after a sweep of the Colorado Rockies in the National League Division Series. The Brewers won the first and sixth games of the 2018 National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Miller Park in Milwaukee and the third game of the series at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, before falling to the Dodgers in seven games. Counsell thus became only the second Brewers manager to lead the team to the postseason after managing a full season with the team. After the season ended, he finished 2nd in NL Manager of the Year voting, losing to Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker.[21]

On September 18, 2021, Counsell won his 500th game as a manager, a 6–4 Brewers victory over the Chicago Cubs. He finished 2nd in NL Manager of the Year voting, losing to San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler, with one first place vote, 22 second place votes, and four third place votes.[22]

On June 15, 2022, with a win over the New York Mets, Counsell passed Phil Garner (563) for most wins as a Brewers manager.[23]

On September 19, 2023, Counsell won his 700th game as a manager, a 7−3 Brewers victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Counsell's contract with the Brewers expired on November 1, 2023.

Chicago Cubs

On November 6, 2023, Counsell was hired as the manager of the Chicago Cubs on a five-year contract worth over $40 million, making him the highest-paid manager in Major League Baseball history, both in annual average value and total value.[24] The move was described as a surprise by observers, who had expected Counsell to sign with the New York Mets or Cleveland Guardians if he did not remain with the Brewers.[24][25]

As a result of Counsell's unexpected move to the Cubs, the sign for Craig Counsell Park, located in his hometown of Whitefish Bay, was vandalized.[26] The Whitefish Bay little league primarily plays in this park. This vandalism echoed a common feeling of betrayal among the Milwaukee community, due to Counsell's unexpected signing with the Brewers' biggest rival, while others remarked upon the lowball offer Milwaukee offered Counsell.[27]

Managerial record

As of games played on October 3, 2023
Team Year Regular season Postseason
Games Won Lost Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
MIL 2015 137 61 76 .445 4th in NL Central
MIL 2016 162 73 89 .451 4th in NL Central
MIL 2017 162 86 76 .531 2nd in NL Central
MIL 2018 163 96 67 .589 1st in NL Central 6 4 .600 Lost NLCS (LAD)
MIL 2019 162 89 73 .549 2nd in NL Central 0 1 .000 Lost NLWC (WAS)
MIL 2020 60 29 31 .483 4th in NL Central 0 2 .000 Lost NLWC (LAD)
MIL 2021 162 95 67 .586 1st in NL Central 1 3 .250 Lost NLDS (ATL)
MIL 2022 162 86 76 .531 2nd in NL Central
MIL 2023 162 92 70 .568 1st in NL Central 0 2 .000 Lost NLWC (ARI)
Total 1332 707 625 .531 7 12 .368

Personal life

Counsell and his wife, Michelle, have four children together. The family resides in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.[28] Counsell's oldest son, Brady, plays college baseball at the University of Minnesota, and his younger son, Jack, was on Whitefish Bay High School's state championship baseball team in 2023.[29] Jack will be playing college baseball at University of Michigan in 2024.


  1. ^ Tom Haudricourt. "Craig Counsell grew up with the Brewers". Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  2. ^ Cruz, Brandon (March 24, 2016). "Craig Counsell in his first full year as Brewers manager, running his very first spring training". FOX6Now. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  3. ^ "Irish Alum Craig Counsell Retires After 16 Years In MLB". Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website. January 17, 2012. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  4. ^ "October 26, 1997 World Series Game 7, Indians at Marlins -". Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  5. ^ Beaton, Rod (October 22, 2001). "MVP Counsell looks like a kid, plays like a man". USA Today. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  6. ^ "November 4, 2001 World Series Game 7, Yankees at Diamondbacks -". Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  7. ^ "Craig Counsell Statistics and History -". Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  8. ^ "Craig Counsell career highlights". January 22, 2012. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  9. ^ "2011 National League Awards, All-Stars, & More Leaders". Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  10. ^ "Active Leaders & Records for Fielding % as 2B". Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  11. ^ "SN names the 20 smartest athletes in sports". Sporting News. September 27, 2010. Archived from the original on May 23, 2013.
  12. ^ "SABR article". SABR article. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  13. ^ "Dodgers' Velez Sets Hitless Streak Record - SABR". Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  14. ^ "SAFE: Spatial Aggregate Fielding Evaluation". Archived from the original on October 8, 2011. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  15. ^ "Craig Counsell retires, will join Milwaukee Brewers' front office". January 17, 2012. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  16. ^ Wolfley, Bob (March 3, 2014). "Craig Counsell and Darryl Hamilton will call Brewers radio games Uecker elects to miss".
  17. ^ Tom Haudricourt (May 4, 2015). "Brewers give Craig Counsell three-year deal as manager". Milwaukee, Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  18. ^ "Craig Counsell". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  19. ^ "Yelich, Brewers beat Cubs 3-1 for NL Central title". ESPN. October 1, 2018.
  20. ^ 2018 Major League Baseball Managers |
  21. ^ "Brewers' Craig Counsell named runner-up for National League Manager of the Year". November 12, 2019. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  22. ^ "Gabe Kapler wins NL Manager of the Year after leading Giants to 107 victories – BBWAA".
  23. ^ "Counsell sets Brewers mark with 564th victory". June 16, 2022.
  24. ^ a b "Chicago Cubs hiring Craig Counsell, will make him MLB's highest-paid manager: Sources". The Athletic. November 6, 2023. Retrieved November 6, 2023.
  25. ^ Perry, Dayn (November 6, 2023). "Cubs hire Craig Counsell: Four reasons why this was one of most shocking managerial moves in MLB history". CBS Sports. Retrieved November 6, 2023.
  26. ^ Carson, Sophie (November 7, 2023). "Craig Counsell Park sign vandalized in Whitefish Bay following Chicago Cubs deal". Journal Sentinel. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved November 7, 2023.
  27. ^
  28. ^ Lori Nickel. "Craig Counsell opens home to Lakeshore Chinooks player". Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  29. ^ Moen, Corey. "Milwaukee Brewers: Manager Craig Counsell watches his son win a state championship". Wisconsin Sports Heroics. Retrieved September 27, 2023.

Further reading