The latest baseball news: the White Sox signed Jonathan Lucroy to a minor league deal. Lucroy is a very curious case — not because he got a minor league deal today, but because he experienced one of the most precipitous collapses we’ve seen in recent history.
During his first five seasons in the league, Lucroy provided massive value. He was third in fWAR among position players from 2010-2014, and had around 1,000 fewer PAs than the two players ahead of him (Miguel Cabrera, Andrew McCutchen). Brian McCann was one of those guys who had massive framing-related gains in his fWAR when Fangraphs added framing to their valuation; Lucroy rode that high to insane degrees. His first two years in the league, he couldn’t hit too well (84 wRC+ over 765 PAs) yet still compiled over 9 fWAR. Then came his all-around hitting breakout in 2012 (6.0 fWAR in 346 PAs), followed by a 7 fWAR and then an 8 fWAR year.
And then, something odd happened. In 2015, his massive framing value just went kerplop and was gone. His bat went to average, and he posted only 1.6 fWAR. There was a bit of a rebound with the bat in 2016, though the framing wasn’t recovering — he still managed 4.6 fWAR, but that was the end. Since then, he’s posted 0.1 fWAR in 1,263 PAs. He hasn’t had an above-average framing year since 2015.
If he beats out his competition, he’ll pair with a guy who’s taken up his mantle as one of the best catchers of the present day: Yasmani Grandal.
Also the Braves exist or something. Maybe.