Jonathan Lucroy: Underrated fantasy catcher

USA TODAY Sports

Ray Guilfoyle takes a look at Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy and wonders why he didn't rank him higher in his Midseason Catcher Rankings.

I published the Fake Teams Consensus Midseason Catcher Rankings on Monday morning, and the first question I received in the comments section was from former Fake Teams writer Kevin Boger. He is a Brewers fan, so naturally, he asked about Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, after stating that he liked the rankings overall.

Here is the question he submitted in the comments section:

Pretty much completely agree w/ how the final list played out. I agree w/ Lucroy’s final ranking @ #8, but am curious why some ranked him as low as #12 or #13 when his stats are identical and in some cases better than Santana and Rosario. The Brewers are terrible, but mostly due to their pitching. Their offense is relatively stacked at the top and Lucroy should continue to hit either fourth or fifth in the lineup after Aoki, Segura, Gomez/Braun, Ramirez and he is currently hitting third while Braun/Ramirez are unavailable and calls Miller Park home.

As he usually does, Kevin provides solid support for his opinion above, and frankly, I couldn't disagree with him. I was one of the writers who ranked him at 12 in my individual rankings. I flat out ranked Lucroy too low after taking a second look.

Lucroy had a breakout, albeit an injury shortened, season in 2012 hitting .320-.368-.513 with 12 HRs, 46 runs, 58 RBI and 4 stolen bases in just 96 games. He maintained his 6% walk rate, but greatly reduced his strikeout rate from around 22% to just under 13%, while showing improved power and making more contact at the plate.

He started the 2013 season slowly, hitting just .235 with 3 HRs, 9 runs and 13 RBI in 81 April at bats. But, his bat got going in May and he hasn't looked back since. Here are his monthly stats, courtesy of Baseball-Reference:

Split G AB R H 2B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
April/March 22 81 9 19 2 3 13 6 10 .235 .292 .395 .687
May 23 77 5 21 2 2 11 5 7 .273 .321 .403 .724
June 23 81 7 24 4 3 18 4 16 .296 .330 .506 .836
July 12 44 6 14 1 5 10 2 4 .318 .348 .682 1.030
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/16/2013.

As you can see, he has improved at the plate in every month thus far in 2013, although July is only half over at this point. His batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS have risen in each month, and he has already hit a career high 13 home runs in 283 at bats.

Among fantasy catchers, he currently ranks fifth in batting average, tied for third in home runs, thirteenth in runs scored, and second only to Buster Posey in RBI. Pretty impressive, yet I gave him little love when ranking my fantasy catchers last week.

Lucroy is on pace to hit 22 home runs, scored 47 runs and drive in 90 runs this season. The home runs and RBI total would be career highs. Since 2007, only four catchers have put up a season with 20+ home runs and 90+ RBI: Jorge Posada, Victor Martinez, Brian McCann, Joe Mauer and Buster Posey. Yeah, that's pretty good company.

And 2013 may be the last time we can say Lucroy is underrated. But, right now, he is underrated. He should get plenty more love in offseason rankings and fantasy drafts should he meet those expectations.

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