Brewers' 2 backstops providing pop since Lucroy trade
By Curt Hogg
MILWAUKEE -- It would be unfair to ask the Brewers' catching contingent of Martin Maldonado and Manny Pina to produce like Jonathan Lucroy, but the two backstops have more than held their own since the Crew traded away the two-time All-Star at the Trade Deadline.
Lucroy ranks second among all catchers in WAR since 2012, according to Fangraphs. Maldonado has a career OPS under .640. Pina entered the season with 17 career plate appearances.
In the two weeks since Lucroy was sent to the Rangers, however, Maldonado and Pina have produced as well as any team's catchers. With Maldonado's two-run homer in an 11-5 loss to the Reds on Saturday night, the catching tandem is batting .302 with a .434 OBP and three homers since the Aug. 1 deal.
"We're certainly getting offensive production from that spot and, obviously, that's a good thing because we lost a big offensive producer in that spot," manager Craig Counsell said. "Manny and Maldy have both been producing and doing a good job offensively, that's for sure."
On the season, Maldonado has a weighted runs created plus of 87 -- above Major League average for catchers. He has turned it around at the plate as the summer has progressed, batting .209 but with six homers and a .345 OBP and .374 slugging.
Now the regular starter, Maldonado has a history of producing at the dish when given regular playing time. In 2013, when Lucroy played in just 96 games due to injury, Maldonado was valued at 1.3 wins with a .729 OPS over 256 plate appearances.
"Especially when you play more often, your timing is better," Maldonado said. " As a guy like Pina, he was playing every day down there, so he's pretty good on timing. For me it took a couple weeks, but these couple I've been feeling better every time I go up there."
Pina received the promotion from Triple-A Colorado Springs once the trade of Lucroy freed up a roster spot. The 29-year-old notched his first career RBIs on Thursday with a bases-clearing double and followed that Friday with his first big league homer. Through seven games, Pina is batting .500 with a .571 OBP and six RBIs.
"Manny is doing a nice job," Counsell said. "It's early with him, but he's come up and done what he was doing with Colorado Springs. It's good to see that it hasn't fazed him. He's not doing anything different, he's just going out and continuing to have good at-bats."
The Brewers continue to figure out how to rotate playing time between Maldonado and Pina, but through two weeks, either player has been a viable option.
"At the plate, the more you get in there, the more comfortable you're going to get," Maldonado said.
Curt Hogg is a reporter for MLB.com based
in Milwaukee.. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.