Projecting Catcher and the First Base Monster

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Today we discuss Jonathan Lucroy (good) and the first base platoon, whoever it may end up being (not so good).

Jonathan Lucroy

We always have and always will have criticisms of the front office around here, but it's also nice to point out when they make an excellent move. As I pointed out with Carlos Gomez, it is not so much fun to imagine having to bid on Lucroy's services after next season, and even these two years at $2 and $3 million is a bargain compared to what he would likely get in arbitration. Fangraphs just began doing power rankings of each position across baseball, and the Brewers check in at 9th in the catcher department. If that seems low, it's because they do not include pitch framing in their defense calculation even though a lot of research has indicated that it is a very big deal, and that Lucroy is very good at it. The author, Jeff Sullivan, does not say exactly how high the rank would jump if it were to be included but says it would be "near the top". If we were having a catcher draft and I had the number 2 pick after Posey, I think I would be inclined to take Lucroy.

Contract situation: 2014: $2M, 2015: $3M , 2016: $4M, 2017 team option for $5.2 M

ZiPS: .273/.331/.437 in 506 PA

7 runs above average on offense, 10 runs above average at catcher, 3.4 WAR

Jordan's over/under: Over by tiny bit. Lucroy hit better than that line in both his fluke-injury shortened 2012 and his stellar 2013. I don't really expect him to make big improvements at this point in his career, but I don't expect him to get worse either.

First Base

I cannot imagine that there is any way they keep 3 first basemen on the roster and I cannot imagine them keeping two lefties, and considering Reynolds has not really done anything to disqualify himself I think we can pencil him in. Look at that ZiPS projection below for Reynolds! The funny thing about him, though, is that ZiPS sees his defense as being so bad that even with that fairly excellent line, something he hasn't approached since 2011, he's still a below-average player overall.

People will complain, but Francisco is basically the only thing representing any upside here. Basically we have three players who look to be pretty close to what we call replacement level-- but after last year's debacle, even finding moderately competent replacement-level players will be a fairly significant upgrade. I would be very tempted to just let the Reynolds/Francisco Strikeout Record Experiment get underway and see what happens. But here's the good news: if the Brewers do find themselves in contention near the trade deadline, there's a pretty obvious spot to look to upgrade with a rental!

Contract Situation: Haha.

ZiPS:

Lyle Overbay: .245/.300/.401

Mark Reynolds: .234/.335/.474

Juan Francisco: .246/.295/.465

Jordan's over/under: Just, under, regardless.

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