When Jonathan Lucroy left the Milwaukee Brewers at the 2016 trade deadline, many thought the catching position would become the weakest on the team. Martin Maldonado filled in admirably, but most knew he was only a short term solution to a larger problem. The Brewers completely revamped their catching corps in the off-season. How are the two new catchers holding down the fort?
Coming into Spring Training 2017 the Milwaukee Brewers had three viable options to replace Lucroy: Andrew Susac, Jett Bandy, and Manny Pina. Pina was an in-house option, while Bandy and Susac were both brought in via trades. Pina tore it up in Spring Training, batting near .400, while Bandy and Susac both struggled to get anything going offensively.
It was a very competitive Spring as all had an equal chance of making the team. The roster decision for Counsell was made easier when Susac suffered an unfortunate injury towards the end of Spring Training. Pina and Bandy capitalized on that injury and have arguably given the Brewers a pair of viable options behind the plate.
Pina is currently hitting at .300 clip and, as Steven Ohlrogge points out, just recently added to an impressive list of Mother’s Day moments for the Brewers. In 24 games this season he has already surpassed his career hit total. He’s also contributed eight doubles and two home runs to the Brewers explosive offense. In addition to his production at the plate, he has already cut down seven would be base stealers.
Bandy has been equally productive when placed in the lineup. In 24 games he owns a .275 batting average with five doubles, and five home runs. Not to be out done by his counterpart, Bandy knocked in the winning run against the Padres on May 17th to deliver the victory.
The Brewers can consider themselves lucky to have two dynamic catchers to call upon. Many teams struggle to find one reliable player to man the backstop. With both players contributing, Counsell can rest easy knowing whoever he pencils in at catcher will contribute to the team’s success.