Brewers: Why William Contreras has the potential to be the best catcher in MLB

Contreras is coming off of his first Silver Slugger award and is only looking to build on 2023
Mar 12, 2024; Mesa, Arizona, USA; Milwaukee Brewers catcher William Contreras goes 3-4, with 4 RBI's.
Mar 12, 2024; Mesa, Arizona, USA; Milwaukee Brewers catcher William Contreras goes 3-4, with 4 RBI's. / Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
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William Contreras is entering just his second season with the Brewers, but he has already emerged as a leader in this clubhouse. Contreras will go into his fifth year in the league having only progressed each season. Last season, we saw his BA jump up to .289 and WAR skyrocket to 3.8, which was an entire 1.1 WAR better than his 2022 campaign.

Those stats of course highlight Contreras' offensive production, however where he has improved the most is on defense. In his rookie season, Contreras only caught 4 games, which is not a large enough sample size to gather data. But, in 2021 he had a Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) of -7 in 49 games played.

He followed that performance with another subpar season in 2022 posting a -4 DRS in 60 games caught for the Braves. When he got to Milwaukee, a clear adjustment was made as he posted a DRS of +5 in his first season with the Brewers.

This turnaround is nothing short of remarkable as it appears the Brewers catching lab may have struck again. Contreras isn't satisfied just yet though and has even higher expectations for 2024.

"I know I am one of the best catchers, but it’s always on my mind that I haven’t achieved anything," Contreras said. "I haven’t done anything. And I come to work hard every day."

Contreras is coming off a season where he just won his first Silver Slugger award. On top of that, he finished 11th in National League MVP voting. If Contreras continues to evolve at the plate, there is no telling what the ceiling is for him this season. Contreras has already classified himself in an elite group of catchers, recognized in a similar tier with players like Adley Rutschman, Sean Murphy, Will Smith and JT Realmuto.

FanGraphs is projecting Contreras to slash for .270/.348/.454 line in 2024. This type of production would be slightly below his final statline from the previous season. However FanGraphs is projecting Contreras to finish with 22 HR's which would be five more than he tallied in the 2023 season. An increase in power is something the Brewers lineup will definitely be looking for ahead of the new season.

Contreras has shown the ability to evolve every year in the league thus far. Whether that be staying healthy, putting together good at-bats, or even defensively saving runs, he has impacted the game in a number of ways. All of this and Contreras is looking at just his age 26 season. Contreras has the potential to not just be the best catcher in the league, but ultimately could find his way into the MVP conversation when this season is all said and done.

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