Brewers' Catcher Lucroy Evolving as a Hitter
A month and a half into the season and the Milwaukee Brewers are not exactly lighting it up with their bats. Rickie Weeks is batting .159, Aramis Ramirez has finally started to hit well over the past few weeks, yet his average is still just .235 and Corey Hart started hot, but is now down to .244.
Ryan Braun is the MVP mainstay he is supposed to be and is consistantly at or above .300. He's hitting .305 in this young season so far.
A nice suprise for Brewers' fans has been how well catcher Johnathan Lucroy has been swinging the bat. In 75 games as a rookie in 2010, Lucroy hit .253 with 24 runs scored and 26 RBI. In 136 games last year, he hit a respectable .265 with 45 runs scored and 59 RBI, prompting Brewers' management to give Lucroy a 5 year contract extension that runs through the 2016 season.
Through 32 games in 2012, Lucroy is hitting .330 with 10 runs scored and already 17 RBI. What is most impressive has been Lucroy's ability to hit with runners in scoring position. He's an outstanding 11-22 with RISP.
He's been pretty consistant since the beginning of the season, but in the month of May he's been tearing up opposing pitching. He's hitting .388 with 5 runs scored and 9 RBI and it's only May 16th.
Some people believe catchers take a little longer to adjust to hitting in the majors because a majority of their focus is spent learning how to catch effectively. Studying opposing hitters, as well as coping with the stress of learning their own pitchers is enough to occupy any young catcher's full attention.
Lucroy has been with this staff almost two full seasons and is already one of the better defensive catchers in the league. It seems as though he is evolving as a hitter in his third year as the Brewers' fulltime catcher.
A perfect example of Lucroy's maturity and evolution at the plate came yesterday against the New York Mets. With one out in the 6th inning and runners on first and second, Lucroy fell behind and looked like he was in trouble with a 1-2 count. Mets' starter Dillon Gee put an off-speed pitch on the outside part of the plate that Lucroy pushed into RF for an RBI single. A year or two earlier and Lucroy probably swings and misses for strike 3 or tries to pull it and rolls over on it for an inning ending double-play.
Not this year. So far. Let us hope Lucroy has found his comfort zone at the plate; we know he's definitely found it behind the plate.