Posted 05/26/2012 at 12:34 PM
One of the lone bright spots in a tough first two months of the season for the Milwaukee Brewers has been the emergence of catcher Jonathan Lucroy as a great offensive force in the lineup. The loss of Prince Fielder is often cited as a primary reason for the early season struggles but with Lucroy picking up a lot of production the Brewers have actually been a higher scoring team than last year at this point in the season. Milwaukee has scored 198 runs through the first 45 games while last year en route to a division championship, the Brewers had scored just 183 runs through 45 games. That team was 22-23 while this year the Brewers are 19-26 as the pitching has been much worse.
At first glance Lucroy looks like a lock to be an all star for the first time in his career, hitting .343 with 29 RBI so far this season, posting an impressive .968 OPS. Lucroy doesn’t walk often but he has been clutch this season, batting .611 with runners in scoring position and with two outs. Upon further review however the National League is stacked at catcher right now. Due to his relative anonymity nationally Lucroy has virtually no shot to be voted in as a starter. That spot will go to the more popular and well established catchers, likely Yadier Molina or Brian McCann who have both been all stars each of the last three seasons.
While McCann has not had a great start to the season offensively and wouldn’t justify a spot if he is not voted in, Molina has strong numbers. Given that Tony LaRussa will be managing the game and making roster decisions he will be a lock to make the squad as a reserve if he doesn’t get voted in. Carlos Ruiz has also had an incredible start to the season for the Phillies, batting .362 with seven home runs and he will warrant a spot one way or another. Buster Posey and A.J. Ellis have also enjoyed very good starts to the season and they will have to be strongly considered. In three of the last five years the NL has only taken two catchers but with the depth of quality at the catching position and the game being played in an AL Park with a DH there is a good chance that three can make the squad this year.
For Lucroy however it looks like he may be the odd man out. Best case scenario for the Brewers catcher would be that Molina is voted in as the starter and that he makes it along with Ruiz but the case for Posey or Ellis is nearly as strong and both are in bigger markets and likely better stories with Posey coming back from injury and Ellis drawing Crash Davis comparisons. If someone other than Molina is voted as the starter Lucroy will face even steeper odds of making the team. Lucroy has enjoyed a fine season and deserves recognition however as he has played a huge role in helping the Brewers avoid falling too far behind the NL Central leaders.