There are plenty of questions surrounding the Milwaukee Brewers in 2013, and as we gear up for the General Manager’s Meetings and the Winter Meetings, some of those will be answered.
But still others will have to wait for Spring Training. One of those questions is centered on the performance of one Mr. Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee’s starting catcher.
Battered with a hand injury that kept him sidelined for a large part of the season, Lucroy was still able to contribute to this team in a big way upon his return. Will he be able to parlay that performance into more production in 2013?
Most fans have their own personal opinion on Lucroy at the plate. Most are assured that he is a hot starter who cannot keep momentum after the All-Star Break. That is largely true – but if 2012 is any indication, that gap might be closing.
After the All-Star Break – and after Lucroy’s return from injury – he hit .299 down the latter half of the season, consisting for him of 53 games. In that time he posted more hits (53), more home runs (7), equaled his stolen bases (2), total bases (81), and more than doubled his walks (15).
Sample sizes aside, it would appear as though Lucroy played fairly consistently through the entire campaign. It’s easy to point to past numbers and say that the proof is there that Jonathan Lucroy does not have it in hi to perform throughout 162 games, but there are some things that change that mindset.
First, he is only 26 years old, and has yet to play a truly full season injury free. Judging by how he bounced back from a hand injury (potentially career-altering for any player, let alone a catcher) there is a case to be made that were he able to stay out of harm’s way on and off the field that he could perform commendably the whole way down. But you know how I hate using injuries as an excuse. His health is somewhat worrisome, but his injuries have been far from severe.
Second, he now has a more dependable defensive replacement. Martin Maldonado has a good bat and a good glove, good enough in fact to give Lucroy more rest if necessary during the season. George Kottaras, now of the Oakland Athletics, left something to be desired with his arm and ability to move behind the plate. His offensive power was good if not a bit inconsistent as well. Martin Maldonado should help to give a bit more consistency on the field in Lucroy’s absence, thus allowing him to retain more sustained performance throughout the season.
The truth of the matter is there is just no way of telling how Lucroy will perform in 2013. We can look at the numbers, the splits, and any metrics that you want, but judging a player on two and a half years of Major League experience is a dangerous bet to make. Looking at the way his plate discipline has improved, the large gap of defensive ability and potential that he’s closed, and the fact that he has been nearly unstoppable with men on base, and I’d say that there are plenty more things to be excited about with his career than to be worried.