It’s been no surprise that our pitching has been struggling, but also that our offensive numbers are just not there right now. In a Brewers’ season that hasn’t started off to the greatest of ways, Jonathan Lucroy and Ryan Braun are providing a bright spot. Both guys are batting well over .300 and been our most clutch hitters this year. We’ve known that Braun is very capable of this, but to see this production from Luc is just amazing. Not many catchers have ever hit for a very high average while still producing in other offensive categories. The catcher position is one of, if not the most, demanding in the entire game of baseball and I tip my hat not only to Luc, but to his back-up George Kottaras who has done excellent on Luc’s off days.
What amazes me is that going well in May, Lucroy is still on fire. He did have a nine game hit streak going, but was ended in a loss against the Cubs on May 13th. Since then however, he has a hit in his past four games. On the season, Luc is batting .333 with two home runs and 19 RBIs. Now obviously Luc starts four games then sits for one as Randy Wolf’s personal catcher is Kottaras, which I think honestly is a good thing. Sure, it means Lucroy won’t play 34, 35 (however many starts Wolf will have) games a season, but it lets him rest and gives him the strength to perform at a higher level. Catchers can wear down easily and we definitely don’t want to see that in Luc. Signing him to a 5-year extension was an absolutely genius move by our front office. We know that Lucroy’s bat is valuable in the lineup, especially in this season so far. I like when Roenicke has him bat second because that provides the team the opportunity to get on early. Even if you bat Luc 6th or 7th, I still think it’s a great move. You have the heart of the order, consisting of Corey Hart, Aramis Ramirez and I suppose now Travis Ishikawa as your 4th, 5th, and 6th batters with Lucroy behind that. It’s great to know his bat is reliable anywhere in the line-up.
Defensively, Lucroy has room for improvement, but his errors have always been on the low side of things. He’s only committed two error this season inside of 273 defensive chances and that’s really good. He’s currently tied in top 8 for best defensive stats for a catcher so far this season. Luc’s also thrown out his far share of batters, going 10 for 31 in runners caught stealing. All around the ball, Lucroy is just flat out good. He’s young and with that, he has a promising career that hopefully he’ll play in Milwaukee for. We know he’s ours for the next five years, but after that, let’s hope we can hold onto him.
Ryan Braun’s production never stopped from last year and I don’t think it ever will. I make that sound like a bad thing towards the end of that sentence, but I assure you, that’s as far from bad as you can get. Braun leads the Brewers in every offensive category, except batting average that is held by Luc. On the year so far, Braun is batting .304 with 10 home runs and 21 RBIs. His OPS is nearly through the roof at .985. He’s a guy that likes to get on base and when the situation is dire, he will do whatever it takes to get on. Lately, it’s been getting hit that’s seen Braun’s arrival to first base, but hopefully that will calm it. In the series against the Cubs, Braun was plunked three times inside two games and once in the Mets series. Braun has also been proving himself as a base stealer, stealing three bases in his past six games. Could Braun be up for another MVP title at the end of the season? If he keeps up this production no doubt, but even then, I still think his name has to be somewhere near that discussion come November.
Braun’s defense has been nothing to scoff at either. In his five years in the majors, Braun established fast and early that he would ultimately be one of the best left fielders in the game today. His bat helps him back that up, but his defense provides an even greater argument. Yes, his first year he did commit 26 errors, but that was at third base, not left field. Since then, Braun has only committed EIGHT errors (including this season) in four years. This year, Braun has committed two errors in 81 chances and that’s pretty good for an outfielder, considering there’s three ways a ball can go in an outfield. We do have Braun locked up until 2016, but until then, Braun will do nothing but produce offensively and defensively.
The interesting thing about Luc and Braun is combined, their WAR is 2.8, higher than the rest of the position players on the Brewers’ roster combined. Heck, even apart, Luc’s WAR is 1.0 and still higher than everyone else but Braun’s 1.8. These two have been providing in ways that most teams would, I dare say, envy. To have two consistent batters and fielders like this and not be a big market team, it’s pretty incredible. The pitching is starting (slowly but surely wins the race) to warm up and if we can just get the rest of our bats to wake up, we’ll be a wrecking crew of a baseball team.
Until next time, go Brew Crew!