Milwaukee Brewers’ catcher Jacob Nottingham got the most extensive look of his so-far brief big league career in 2020, appearing in 20 games with 54 plate appearances while filling in for an injured Manny Pina and ineffective Omar Narvaez. He did well enough in that time, showing the same power and swing-and-miss that has been typical of him in the upper minors while batting .188/.278/.458 with four home runs and 20 punchouts for an OPS+ of 93. He also was graded at +2 Defensive Runs Saved, +0.5 Framing Runs, and threw out two of eight attempted base stealers in 134.0 innings behind the dish.
Nottingham, however, suffered an injury to his thumb during game two of the Wild Card series against the Dodgers that forced him to leave in the sixth inning. As it turns out, he had to go under the knife in order for things to get healing properly:
Brewers catcher Jacob Nottingham, who was forced out of Game 2 of the Wild Card Series, has undergone thumb surgery per his Instagram. pic.twitter.com/NiZClcHCVL— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) December 30, 2020
McCalvy went on to elaborate that Nottingham’s procedure was on the radial collateral ligament on his left thumb. He is expected to be ready to go by the start of Spring Training or shortly thereafter.
Nottingham, who turns 26 in April, has made brief appearances at the game’s highest level in each of the last three seasons and will enter 2021 without any minor league options remaining. Narvaez and Pina still sit ahead of him on the depth chart. Fellow out-of-options catcher David Freitas remains in the fold for now, free agent signing Luke Maile is present but able to be optioned to the minors, and of course there is also prospect Mario Feliciano to round of the sextuplet of backstops on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster. Nottingham hasn’t quite developed as hoped since he was the centerpiece of the now seemingly ill-fated Khris Davis trade with Oakland following the 2015 season, but he still looks like a good bet to stick in the big leagues for awhile as a “backup catcher with pop.”
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference