Milwaukee Brewers: Erik Kratz brings stability to catcher

When we think of big Milwaukee Brewers trades, deals for Mike Moustakas, Christian Yelich, and others come to mind. But on May 25th of this year, the Brewers made an inconspicuous trade for journeyman catcher, Erik Kratz.

As catcher Jett Bandy’s struggles at the plate persisted early on and Stephen Vogt was on the DL, the only reliable catcher the Milwaukee Brewers had, was Manny Pina.

Kratz was a player on GM David Stearns’ radar this past off season. However with Bandy, Vogt and Pina fighting for playing time at the big league level and the up and comer Jacob Nottingham in the minors, Kratz saw little opportunity for playing time in Milwaukee. Instead, Kratz signed with the New York Yankees and began the 2018 season in Triple-A.

Kratz’ Career

Kratz was drafted in the 29th round and made his minor league debut in the 2002 season. It wouldn’t be until 2010, at 30 years of age, that he made his first major league appearance.

From 2010 to this point in his career, Kratz has bounced around numerous organizations. Other than 2012-2014, where he played consistently at the big league level, Kratz has been going back and forth between the majors and the minors.

Offensively in his career, Kratz has been inconsistent and has had his struggles. He has a career batting average of just .214, an OPS of .630, while totaling 30 home runs and 96 RBIs.

More so than Kratz’s bat, the Milwaukee Brewers knew they were getting a great player behind the plate and a leader in the clubhouse.

2018 Season offensively

Not only did the Milwaukee Brewers get a great defender, but Kratz is playing well above his career averages as a hitter this year.

As a Brewer, Kratz has made 50 starts and has 63 total appearances on the season. He’s batting .251, with an OPS of .677 and six home runs. Kratz is also batting .600 when he comes off of the bench.

In fact, he’s gone from being a backup to Pina to sharing starts with him in the second half. Both have started in 30 games since the All-Star break.

Having Kratz in the lineup has helped bring some consistency to the bottom of the Brewers batting order. An area that struggled early on in the season.

What Kratz brings to the Brewers

But what may be Kratz’ biggest contributions to the Milwaukee Brewers are his defense and work ethic.

In a very short time as a Brewer, Kratz was able to build great chemistry with the pitchers he worked with. And his ability to study and know the batters that the Brewers are facing, make him an excellent game caller behind the plate.

Kratz does a wonderful job of framing pitches that end up close to the strike zone. In turn getting more strike calls for his pitchers. He’s also only recorded two errors in his 455 2/3 innings played defensively this season and has thrown out 12 base stealers.

Whether it’s in prepping for each game or during the game, Kratz does all the little thing correctly. You don’t have as long of a baseball career as Kratz has had without being valuable on the field and in the locker room.

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Kratz veteran experience along with Pina has brought stability to Milwaukee’s catcher position in 2018. At 38 years old, Kratz may not know what his baseball future holds, but we do know that he will be a contributor to the Milwaukee Brewers post season run.

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