Taking stock of Lucroy's tenure with Brewers

Taking stock of Lucroy's tenure with Brewers

SAN DIEGO -- Every television in the visitor's clubhouse at Petco Park was tuned to the first pitch of Tuesday's Rangers-Orioles game, and the room filled with cheers when new Texas catcher Jonathan Lucroy made a clean pick of Yu Darvish's first pitch in the dirt.

At that moment, it was even more official: Lucroy's tenure as the Brewers' primary catcher was over after parts of seven seasons.

"'Luc' was a huge piece for us for so long," pitcher Jimmy Nelson said. "A great person, not just a great player. We're going to miss him behind the plate - but also, [Martin Maldonado] is incredible behind the plate. We trust 'Maldy' because we know Maldy just as well."

Before Maldonado gets too deep into his tenure, here's a question: Where did Lucroy rank in Brewers history?

• He was worth 18.3 wins above replacement, using the Baseball-Reference.com measure, which is most by far in franchise history for a catcher, and 14th of all hitters in Brewers history. Prince Fielder is 15th, with 16.8 WAR.

• If one only includes players drafted or signed by the Pilots/Brewers themselves, Lucroy moves up to ninth-most valuable. Hall of Famer Robin Yount, naturally, tops the list with 77 WAR during his 20-year Brewers career.

• Arguably, Lucroy was the best Brewers catcher ever. In addition to his WAR, his 111 OPS+, .436 slugging percentage and 79 home runs are best in franchise history for the position. More telling is weighted runs created plus, a measure of offensive production that accounts for ballpark factors (important considering the Brewers' move from pitcher-friendly County Stadium to hitter-friendly Miller Park) and era. Among catchers with more than 500 at-bats for the Brewers, Lucroy's 111 wRC+ leads the way, followed by Dave Nilsson (108), Darrell Porter (104) and Ted Simmons (98).

Only B.J. Surhoff had more extra-base hits (275 to 255, in more than 1,000 additional at-bats). Among players who spent any significant time behind the plate for the Brewers, only Nilsson (.464) and Bill Schroeder (.451) had better slugging percentages while playing catcher than Lucroy's .443. Only Nilsson (.820) had a better OPS as a catcher than Lucroy (.790).

• In terms of single seasons by OPS, Lucroy had three of the top four and four of the top seven years for a catcher in franchise history. If you set the minimum at 95 games played (Lucroy's total this season), and at least half of those games at catcher, Nilsson's .954 OPS in 1999 tops the list. Lucroy is second (.881 in 2012), third (.841 in 2016) and third (.837 in 2014).

• How does Lucroy match-up with Simmons, who is often cited as the top catcher to play for the team? It's a challenging comparison because Simmons came to Milwaukee near the end of his storied career, but using wRC+ to account for ballparks and eras, Lucroy has two years (135 wRC+ in 2012 and 132 wRC+ in 2014) better than Simmons' best season as a Brewer (122 wRC+ in 1983 as a 33-year-old).

Lucroy, however, has work to do if he wants to match Simmons' career. Including his time with the Cardinals and Braves, Simmons made eight All-Star teams and garnered MVP votes seven times. His 50.1 bWAR is 10th all-time among Major Leaguers who played at least half of their games at catcher.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.