Milwaukee Brewers catcher Manny Pina had a very successful rookie season. Many people forgot that Pina was technically a rookie this season at age 30. With the way he played, he didn’t give off the impression that he was.
Manny Pina came into Spring Training in a competition for playing time with Jett Bandy and Andrew Susac. Fortunately for Pina, Susac went down with an injury. The competition came down to Bandy and Pina. They ended up splitting playing time during the early months of the season.
What happened in 2017?
Bandy did fairly well in the beginning of the season, and it seemed as if he would emerge as the starting catcher for the Brewers. However, Bandy fell into a bad slump, and was replaced by Stephen Vogt when he was picked up off waivers.
The signing of Vogt didn’t mean anything against Pina. The situation wasn’t even a platoon. The job was Pina’s to lose because he earned it, and continued to earn it with his bat and his defensive ability.
Pina had 330 at bats in 2017 and posted a .279/.327/.424 slash line. He managed a total of 92 hits, 43 RBIs, and nine home runs. Pina had one of the highest batting averages on the team, and was over .300 for a majority of his season.
How did Pina do behind the plate?
Despite the offensive success, the most impressive part of Pina’s game was his defense. Pina totaled 760 1/3 innings at catcher last season, only making six errors. That totals to be a .992 fielding percentage. What was more impressive was his throwing arm. Pina lead the league in “back-picks.” That’s where a runner is on base and the catcher throws him out after a pitch.
Pina’s arm got the Milwaukee Brewers out of many tough situations, and helped control the running game. Pina’s pop-up time from when he gets the pitch to when he throws it is one of the fastest in baseball, and has moved him into the class of high level MLB defensive catchers.
Did he come through in big situations?
Another important element to Pina’s season is how he came through in the clutch multiple times. Most notably, two important eighth inning home runs. One in the Mother’s Day comeback against the Mets, and the go ahead home run in game against the Pirates in August.
One of the reasons people forgot that Pina was a rookie is because of how he never seemed to crumble in big situations. He went to the plate with the same approach every time, and often came through with key hits. Also, he came through in many clutch situations on defense as well by making big throws to get key runners out late in games.
Manny Pina had a unexpected, very good year for the Milwaukee Brewers. It will be important for him to continue to improve and develop into key member of this young Brewers team. While Pina is new to being a Big Leauger, he can still step up and be a leader with his age, and his demeanor. He seems to fit in very well with his teammates, and it will be exciting to watch the development of him and his team.