The Milwaukee Brewers are at it again with William Contreras
William Contreras is just the latest stud to be affected strongly by the Milwaukee Brewers catching lab. As previously mentioned, when first acquired, William Contreras defense was something that was to be expected as below average. However, the opposite has been true as Contreras finds himself near the top of the league in pitch framing, arguably his biggest defensive concern.
In 2021, Contreras faced a somewhat small sample size of pitches, 1,317 and finished 45th in pitch framing, three spots behind his brother in Chicago, Willson Contreras. 2022, despite William Contreras being an All-Star with the Braves, got slightly worse behind the plate, finishing 48th in pitch framing. This move down in the ranks is clearly cause for wonder if Contreras could improve as a defensive catcher. However, the start to the 2023 season with the Milwaukee Brewers is strongly encouraging as William Contreras, according to Statcast, currently sits second in all of Major League Baseball in pitch framing. Brother Willson still sits down at 41. As the chart in the link shows, Contreras has been very good at turning low pitches into strikes.
Looking at the metrics brought up with other catchers the Milwaukee Brewers have helped improve, only Omar Narvaez has seen a bigger improvement from his previous team to his first year with the Milwaukee Brewers. William Contreras has made massive improvements in every single aspect. In 2022 Contreras had -4 framing runs, in the first month of 2023 Contreras is at +1 framing runs.
Blocking above average, in 2022 Contreras was -3, so far in 2023 he is at +4. William Contreras has shown his athleticism behind the plate as he currently ranks as the number five pitch blocker according to statcast. As the visual shows, Contreras has done a fantastic job blocking pitches in the dirt.
His caught stealing percentage has also rapidly improved, in 2022 Contreras caught just seven percent of 29 runners stealing. So far this season Contreras has caught 2-of-6 steal attempts, admittedly a small sample size but an encouraging percentage.
Now framing rate, the area of possibly biggest concern for William Contreras has been an area of strong improvement. In 2022, William Contreras' framing strike rate was at 44.9 percent, so far in 2023 Contreras has a framing strike rate of 49 percent, an over four percent improvement.
As the group of work over the last five years and several players shows, the Milwaukee Brewers have done a fantastic job of taking below average defensive catchers and turning them into players near the top of the league in several defensive metrics.