Sunday, March 24, 2013

Brewers By Position - Catcher

A position where the Brewers have depth?! WHAT IS THIS NEW DEVILRY?

Jonathan Lucroy

Lucroy was one of the biggest surprises in baseball during the 2012 season, spraying line drives all over the field and putting up a 138 wRC+  with 12 dingers in 346 plate appearances. It might have been even more awesome had Lucroy not suffered a broken hand in a bizarre hotel-room incident involving a suitcase and his wife. Luc was thought of as a bat-first catcher coming up through the system, but was just okay in his first two seasons and if anything was more impressive defensively. Last year brought a refined approach and a better swing, striking out way less and hitting more fly balls as well as a willingness to go to the opposite field.


It's easy to point at his .338 BABIP and say "well, he got lucky, he'll regress", but that's lazy analysis. When a player sees a BABIP spike (and not a huge one, in Lucroy's case), the reaction should be finding out WHY it was high before declaring luck as the culprit. The reason his BABIP was high is he leveled out his swing and also swung at better pitches. Miraculously, his well-hit average soared by 46 points. He squared up the ball way more often, cutting his swinging strike numbers and not only hitting more fly balls but maintaining a solid line drive rate to boot. He improved as a hitter overall, and its possible that even further development is in store. He can even run the bases a little bit (for a catcher), which isn't nothing.

Defensively, Lucroy is rock solid. His mediocre throwing arm will prevent him from being Molina-level behind the plate, he's pretty much a wizard in every other form of catcher defense. His pitch-framing is already at a legendary status, ranking fourth in baseball in this pitch-framing study despite only playing for two partial years at the time (the study covered six seasons). He's also excellent at blocking pitches and pitchers seem to enjoy working with him (except for Randy Wolf, but screw him). All told, Luc is quickly developing into the total package.
.285/.340/.430, 16 HR, 4 SB

                                                                                                    my god


Martin Maldonado

Unlike Lucroy, Maldonado is already an elite defender. Also unlike Luc, Maldonado's bat leaves a little something to be desired. Called upon as the starting catcher while Luc was sidelined with the hand injury, Martin got off to a great start at the plate while providing superb defensive chops behind it. All told, his .266/.321/.408 line was nothing to sneeze at, but going forward it's more likely he settles around the .220-ish hitter he was in the minors. He has solid power and has some plate discipline, which is really all you can ask of a backup. Defensively, you name it, he's got it. Excellent pitch-framer, laser throwing arm, pitchers love him. Despite the limited bat, he's probably good enough overall as a player to start for a major league team at some point.
.215/.285/.340, 7 HR, 0 SB

Blake Lalli
A former Cub farmhand, Lalli was brought in on a minor-league deal and will serve as the team's third catcher, probably starting for AAA Nashville. He's raised some eyebrows by hitting well during Spring Training, but it's Spring Training so the first part of this sentence is now worthless. He's acceptable defensively and can hit a tiny bit, but has little power. If he sees time in the majors it will be because of injury.
.230/.275/.300, 0 HR, 0 SB

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