Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’14 – #12 Martin Maldonado

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Some awfully good things in this world come in dozens. A dozen eggs. A 12-pack of your favorite canned beverage. Your standard box of donuts (provided the baker doesn’t get generous).

Today’s entry in the Terrific 12s is how many days remain before we descend on Miller Park for Opening Day!

The man who’ll be wearing #12 (as is the point of “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers”) on Opening Day is none other than the backup catcher…

Martin Maldonado.

MartinMaldonado

The backstop affectionately known as “Maldy” has been the primary backup for the Milwauke Brewers now for two seasons, although for a good chunk of 2012 he was starting while Jonathan Lucroy was rehabbing from basically a broken hand.

Not known for his offensive prowess, Maldonado’s calling card is his work behind the plate. He’s a very strong receiver, has a cannon for an arm, and is mechanically sound in all facets of catching. He’s maintained a strong caught stealing percentage and his framing is good.

Another benefit that Maldonado has brought is his seeming ability to connect with the pitching staff, particularly the more mentally unique starters. He pairs very well with the combustible Wily Peralta right now, almost taking a “big brother” approach with the young Dominican. He’s worked with the picky Randy Wolf and learned the way he liked to work through games.

Nobody has issues with Maldonado’s in-game prowess at pitch selection and knowledge of how to attack a team’s hitters. One of his idols is fellow Puerto Rican catcher Yadier Molina, and you can see aspects of his game present.

But the bottom line for Maldonado’s value is not in his batting average or RBIs or many other statistics, but rather in many of the advanced metrics that measure the parts of his game where he truly excells.

Maldonado, who is 6’0″ (and dropped over 20 pounds in the off-season through an altered diet) does offer a bit of versatility in being able to play first base in a pinch, but his value is truly in his primary skill set and role.

Whether it’s every fifth day like clockwork, being paired up with a particular pitcher again, or more traditionally subbing in day games after night games, Maldonado will bring a quality work ethic, be well-prepared, and add value in one or more ways.

Not bad for a guy who hit .169 last year in in 183 at-bats across 67 games.

Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:

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