Milwaukee Brewers catchers Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado have proved to be valuable assets to the team this season. Both players bring a quality bat to the plate offensively and are outstanding behind the plate defensively. With this in mind, will the Brewers play Lucroy in right field part time next season?
Lucroy and Maldonado have been trading off catching duties ever since both players have been on the active roster at the same time. It started out as a way for Lucroy to get back into catcher shape after his long stint on the disabled list. However, due to Maldonado’s high level of play, it is impossible to keep him out of the lineup.
The numbers do not lie; as Lucroy has the highest batting average on the team (.322), fifth most RBIs (49), and sixth most home runs (9). All of this has come with almost half of the at-bats (255) as the other every day starters. With these statistics, there is no way Milwaukee can afford to keep him on the bench one out of every two games.
Even though Maldonado was considered more of a defensive catcher in the minors with no offensive game, he has proven that is simply not the case at the professional level. In 214 plate appearances, he is batting .280 with 26 RBIs, seven home runs, 15 walks, and an on-base percentage of .333.
Maldonado is considered to have the better arm as he has thrown out 41.9 percent of his base stealers, while Lucroy has caught 30.4 percent of his base runners. On the other hand, Lucroy has a .992 fielding percentage with only five errors in 616 total chances. Maldonado is also very good behind the plate, as he has a .989 fielding percentage with six errors in 536 total chances.
Lucroy is clearly the better all-around player, which is why he is currently starting. However, it would certainly be nice to be able to start both players at the same time. Maldonado simply does not have the speed to play right field but Lucroy could handle the position. In that case, Norichika Aoki would then move over to center field so Milwaukee would not lose anything offensively.
The Brewers could also take a chance with Maldonado at first base, Lucroy at catcher, Corey Hart in right field, and Aoki in center. Maldonado has actually played two innings of first base this season and recorded three putouts in three total chances. Personally, I would feel more comfortable with Hart at first base and Maldonado at catcher.
This is something Milwaukee must consider going forward if Lucroy is up for the challenge. Of course, Lucroy has never played outfield at any of the professional levels; therefore, I do not expect the Brewers to try this experiment until next year’s spring training.
Michael is a MLB and NBA Featured Writer for Rant Sports, but covers topics for various teams in baseball, basketball, and football. Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelTerrill and on Facebook.