Team Trends

2019 Brewers Catcher Preview: Kratz, Pina… Realmuto?

BREW MATHs Assesses Pina & Kratz’s Value While Dreaming Realmuto Dreams…

BIOGRAPHY

Kratz:   R/R   6-4, 250lb   38 years old: MLB Debut 2010 / 3.046 Service Time

Pina:     R/R   6-0, 215lb   31 years old: MLB Debut 2011 / 4.156 Service Time

HITTING

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Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) Trends:

  • EK shows a startling trend: the less he hits, the better he is. Conversely, the more he hits, the worse he gets.
    • MP is a better overall hitter but like EK, he is very inconsistent
  • Overall
    • MP: 0.301 (POOR)
    • EK: 0.278 (EVEN WORSE)

WHY wOBA?

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How Much Of Last Year Was Luck / Chance?

Let’s Consult BABIP Over Their Career To Optimize Sample Size:

BABIP Trends:

  • EK: Validates what we saw above in wOBA; the more volume Kratz sees, the worse he hits
    • Kratz has plummeted back to Earth after seeing the jump in 2017. He finished the 2018 season around his average but is unreliable at the plate.
  • MP: Pina seems to be settling in around .300 which is what most ‘average MLB hitters’ will hit.

Remember, BABIP tends to be a player’s ‘set point’ over their career. Unless there is a change in swing mechanics or batting stance, it is difficult to escape it after 800 plate appearances. In other words, if a lifetime 300 BABIP player has a 350 March / April, they are due for a reality check (i.e. Kratz from ’17 to ’18).

A final ‘OBP check’ makes it seem clear:

Screen Shot 2018-12-27 at 2.21.19 AM.pngOutside of Kratz’s ‘low volume surge’ in 2017, both of these players settle to about the same point at the plate… Below average (at best). That said, one could make a case that Pina has shown slow, steady improvement over his career.

Plate Discipline

MP: Fastballs (14% whiff rate) / Breaking (28%) / Offspeed (18%)

  • Steady to Patient Approach; good against breaking stuff

EK: Fastballs (20% whiff rate) / Breaking (32%) / Offspeed (32%)

  • Fairly aggressive approach with surprisingly high whiff rate on FBs

Overall, Pina shows better patience as a hitter & makes contact more frequently when he swings.

FIELDING

While fielding is more difficult to compare, the best way to get a relative idea of catching performance is by comparing defensive values:

Here we began to see the catchers separate more definitively. Specifically:

  • EK and MP have similar offensive values (again, confirming what we found above).
    • MP makes up for his deficiencies at the plate with defense; he was the third best defender on the team in 2018.
    • EK does not make up for his transgressions at the plate… While Kratz is not a poor defender, his fielding numbers are above average, at best
      • Kratz tends to find his value as a field general. Most pitchers he has worked with are impressed with his gamesmanship and baseball IQ. Possibly a manager in the making (did someone say Vogt)?
  • MP has an elite arm and guns down runners at a league leading clip (36.7% over his career compared to 32.7% over EK’s).
    • Last year Pina was fourth in the league and caught 40.82% of all runners trying to steal.

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OTHER OPTIONS

INTERNAL: Jacob Nottingham

  • A Future Value (FV) of 40; not ranked in Fangraphs Top 32 Brewer Prospects (11/29/2018)
  • Nottingham has steadily climbed the minor league ranks since 2013. Last year in Colorado Springs he hit .281 with 10HRs / 36RBI in 196PAs (projects to roughly 30HRs and 110RBI over a season). That said, his offense was inconsistent before 2017. He probably is not ready for the Major League level at this time.

FREE AGENCY:

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We see that the only impact player left on this board is Yasmani Grandal. However, he will not come cheap… Ramos signed a deal that averages 9.5M over two years.

TRADE:

  • J.T. Realmuto has been linked to The Brewers all offseason. He is generally regarded as a top 5 MLB catcher and is only 27 years old. He has one year left on his contract with The Marlins. Most everyone feels his days with Miami are limited. This could fare well for The Crew.
  • Last year, he posted a 4.3 WAR and hit .277/.340/.484 with 21HR (125 games)

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CONCLUSIONS:

  • EK is an aging catcher whose best years are behind him. His hitting spike in 2017 was likely an aberration and not sustainable.
    • He is an above average defender whose value is rooted in leadership & pitcher management
  • MP has performed slightly better at the plate than Kratz. Where he truly shines is behind the plate… Pina’s defense is elite.
    • Manny seems to be playing near his peak but has made consistently small strides since breaking into the league
  • The Brewers best option is likely external…
    • On a team thinking World Series catcher is a position easy to mark for upgrade. Realmuto would cost quite a bit and would likely demand 1-2 top prospects from The Brewers Farm System.
    • Grandal also would be a significant upgrade but the cost will be high after Ramos’ deal set the market.
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