Aug 4, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy (20) goes after the ball bunted by Washington Nationals pitcher Taylor Jordan (not pictured) for an error in the 2nd inning at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Grading the Brewers: Jonathan Lucroy

Aside from the two All-Stars on the team, the one bright spot in a downtrodden 2013 was none other than catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Even though he wasn’t an All-Star this year, Lucroy did well enough to build a huge case as one of the premier Brewers.

What kind of a grade will Lucroy earn from his efforts this season?

Jonathan Lucroy has become one of the better parts of the line-up Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Lucroy’s impact on the Brewers this season may have been overshadowed by the production from Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez, but here we take all players into account. This season, Lucroy solidified his role as one of the crucial Brewers and going forward, he’s definitely a player that this team will want to hold onto for dear life after his current contract. It’s not everyday you get a catcher who can not only field well (and be versatile at that), but can hit the ball while maintaining productive numbers.

At the plate this year, Lucroy hit a slash line of .280/.340/.455 alongside smacking 18 homers, 82 RBIs and scored 59 runs. Unlike 2012 where he hit over .300 for the season, Lucroy played in 51 more games this season so some of his numbers won’t be exactly the same. For instance, he had a solid ISO (isolated power) of .193 last year, but in more games played this year, he still managed a great rating of .175.

The presence Lucroy brings to a line-up is incredible, especially when that line-up lacks Ryan Braun, Corey Hart and a healthy Aramis Ramirez. Lucroy’s ability to produce not only in the middle of the order, but in the clutch (an average of .290 or above with runners on) makes his bat all the more lethal for opposing teams.

Defensively Lucroy runs into some problems, but not too many. Behind the plate, Lucroy hosted a fielding percentage of .991, but allowed seven passed balls and committed eight errors. He also only threw out .216 percent (22-for-80) of the runners attempting to steal on him. That aside, Lucroy did help turn five double plays and had 56 assists. Lucroy did well at first base in the 14 games played there, showing off his versatility.

Will Lucroy be an All-Star next year? I don’t know, but it’s certainly a possibility. Even if he doesn’t make it again, we still know how valuable he is to the Brewers. As a catcher, it’s not easy to maintain a high batting average to keep an offense going, but somehow Lucroy does. It’s simply incredible the level of professionalism he brings not only on the field, but off the field with his charities and donations. Plus, Lucroy is just a likable guy, so he has that going for him.

Lucroy’s final grade: A-

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  • William Gregory

    Pretty good assessment overall, Benjamin.

    While Lucroy is not at the level of a Yadier Molina defensively (certainly not as far as throwing out would be base runners, where Molina is well over 40%), one thing that is mentioned time and time again about Luc is his ability to frame pitches. He’s one of the best in the game at doing this (3rd best in the league according to Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan). For a very young pitching staff, that’s going to be huge going forward. Peralta, Tyler Thornburg and Jimmy Nelson will all benefit from Luc’s work behind the plate.

    Offensively, you don’t have many catchers with Luc’s potential. He started the season off horribly (39 games into the season, on May 29th, he was hitting a woeful .221 with a .611 OPS). From that point going forward, Luc really caught fire. The last 108 games he played, Jonathan Lucroy was simply one of the most productive catchers in the game, hitting .301 with 15 HR and 63 RBI. His OBP of .360 and SLG of .499 gave him an outstanding OPS of .859. And his strikeout to walk ratio of 53:36 was very good, also.

    I think 2014 is the year that Jonathan Lucroy finally gets the respect he deserves nationally. He could have easily been an All Star last season, hitting .276 with 13 HR and 52 RBI in the first half. He will be one in 2014. With the return of Ryan Braun, and the likely return of Corey Hart at first base, there will be less pressure on Luc, and I think he will thrive.

    • Benjamin Orr

      William, thanks for your comment! Lucroy is definitely one of the best assets the Brewers have, especially when you take into account all he can do as the catcher. It just seems each year so far Lucroy gets better and better, so hopefully he’ll continue that trend in 2014.