MVBrewers #2: Jonathan Lucroy

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Playing in his fourth major-league season, Jonathan Lucroy has continued to improve each year and has become a critical part of the Brewers success.

Before Jonathan Lucroy came to Milwaukee, Brewers fans had been waiting for years for a new player to come up and be the franchise catcher that the team needed. They went through several free agents and other prospects, but no players stepped up to fill that role. When Lucroy came up, they didn't expect him to fill that role either. Angel Salome was the big catcher prospect at the time. Lucroy was brought up to help fill the catcher position after Gregg Zaun was lost for the season. When George Kottaras couldn't keep the starting catcher role, Lucroy became the starter and cemented his place in history for the Brewers.

Last year was the beginning of the breakout for Jonathan Lucroy. Due to his hand injury, he only played 96 games, but put together a career year with a batting average of .320, on-base percentage of .368, and a slugging percentage of .513. Those batting numbers came down in 2013 (.280/.340/.455) but his offensive growth continued as he set many other career highs. Those new career highs included hits (146), doubles (25), triples (6), home runs (18), runs (59), RBI (86), walks (46), and even stolen bases (9). It was what the Brewers needed in a year where so much else was going wrong for them.

What Lucroy provided beyond the bat was invaluable to the team. He gave the Brewers fans a new star player to follow in a year where the older star players were out of the spotlight. In the batting order, he was called on to fill more critical positions as he spend the year batting 3rd (53 games), 4th (34), and 5th (41). Batting 3rd in the lineup eventually became his spot as he batted there in 45 of the last 48 games of the season. Plus, he helped the Brewers fill a very weak position by making his first starts at first base. While he only made 9 starts there, it allowed the Brewers to keep a strong bat in the lineup while giving him some rest from catching.

The future looks very bright for Jonathan Lucroy. He will turn 28 next season, and will be a Brewer for at least three more years. The franchise catcher that the Brewers had been waiting for years to find is here, and the road ahead looks very good for Lucroy.

Best Game

Jonathan Lucroy had three four-hit games, and he also had a 5-for-5 night with two home runs. However, his best game of the year came on August 16th, when he went 3-for-5 and hit his first walk-off home run of his career, which snapped a five-game winning streak for the Reds and beat Aroldis Chapman for the first time in 22 games. Here is the walk-off home run, as well as the interview/celebration that followed.

Contract Status

Jonathan Lucroy will enter the third year of his five-year/$11 million contract in 2014. This would have been his first year of arbitration had he not signed that contract, but with the contract he will make $2 million in 2014. Considering that deals that other catchers are getting, the Brewers got a very good deal. Here's a couple of comparisons:

  • Buster Posey: $8 million to avoid arbitration in 2013 before signing a 9 year/$167 million deal in March.
  • Carlos Santana: $3.5 million in 2014, the third year of a 5 year/$21 million contract.
  • Matt Wieters: $5.5 million to avoid arbitration in 2013 (2nd year of arbitration)
  • Nick Hundley: $9 million contract signed in March 2012, will make $4 million in 2014
The deal ended up being very team-friendly for the Brewers, and if he continues to play well, that option will be easy enough to pick up. He should be a great addition to the Brewers for many years.
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