Sep 29, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets left fielder Eric Young Jr. (22) scores a run ahead of a tag by Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy (20) during the first inning of a game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Lucroy: The Cajun Catcher Known as Luc

Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Did you know that 27-year-old Brewer’s catcher, Jonathon Lucroy has an official fan site? Chalk me up as a fan because here are three things I learned about Lucroy:

    1. His favorite food is anything that’s authentically Cajun, undoubtedly related to the fact that he attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
    2. He enjoys hunting and fishing, while his favorite movies are Last of the Mohicans and The Avengers, interests that place him firmly in the realm of being a “man’s man.” That’s not surprising for a MLB catcher.
    3. He is known as Luc to many of his fans.

    But what does all that have to do with Luc’s fantasy value?

    What’s Good

    Lucroy had a good fantasy line for a catcher in 2013:

    Jonathan Lucroy 27 59 18 82 46 69 9 0.280 .340 .455

    The above numbers were tallied even after Lucroy’s April start was slower than molasses in January. But his brutal .687 OPS in April improved every month until it peaked at 1.054 in July before dipping again in September at .622. All that added up to a career year, and his 2012 was looking solid until an injury limited his games that season.

    But does his 2012 and ’13 mean big things are again in store for 2014? I say yes!

    One would presume I have some additional data to back up that claim.

    Hmmm…. looking around…. under a stack of papers…Oh! There’s a player profile on Wilin Rosario…but, not seeing…oh, wait, here’s a whole list of numbers to back up that claim!

    • Lucroy strikes out well below the league average. In fact, his K% has been trending better year-over-year, only to land him at a career best 11.9% in 2013.
    • His walk rate is a respectable 7.9%, more proof that Lucroy knows the strike zone, which is a great indicator for a better-than-average batting average.
    • He’s hitting fewer balls on the ground and lifting more into the air, highlighted by a career best 38.0 FB% (fly ball %). He’s matured into a fine hitter and none of his 2013 numbers are so out of his norm that they can’t be repeated.
    • In terms of power, 10.3% of those fly balls are going for homers (HR/FB) a number that suggests a repeat of his 18 home runs is likely in 2014.

    Another positive is that Lucroy picked up 1B eligibility in 2013, an indicator that the Brewers are committed to getting him at bats away from behind the plate. Most of his first base reps could be due the the hole the Brewers had at that position, which undoubtedly led them to ask “Does anyone know how to play first base?” Still, us fantasy owners will take at bats however we can get them as they lead to higher counting numbers.

    Lucroy also pitched in 9 steals with a 905 success rate, meaning he should reasonably log at least 5-6 next season, which is gravy for a catcher.

    What I don’t like

    There isn’t much head room for growth with Lucroy. What you saw in 2013 most likely represents the ceiling of his talent. Not that that’s a bad thing in the least. The only downside is that he won’t be a secret again in 2014, so just make certain you don’t bid on an improvement of 2013, which most likely won’t come. Keep it in perspective.

    Look to 2014

    Again, if I’m looking to 2014 for Jonathan Lucroy, I’m not looking much further than his 2013 stat line. It’s early and stuff can happen between now and then, but in looking closely at his numbers I don’t spot a thing that says his 2013 was anything other than his true talent level, nor did I spot any numbers that looked unsustainable.

    Lucroy should land just inside the top 5 when 2014’s catchers are ranked. Many fantasy owners wait to fill their catcher position and that’s not a bad strategy. It’s bad policy to pay the same for a top 5 catcher as you’d pay for a top 5 player at another position, but if other fantasy owners let Lucroy slip, be confident in knowing that he’s a strong candidate to repeat his fine 2013 season in 2014.

    Tags: Catcher Jonathan Lucroy Milwaukee Brewers

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