Ex-Royals C Kratz finally gets his moment in the sun with big NLDS performance
Of course, Erik Kratz kept hoping for a moment like this.
That’s why he stuck around, through a dozen big-league organizations (including the Kansas City Royals), a couple of cruel demotions in the minors, a bunch of near-misses in October.
And the time he accidentally shot himself in the hand with a nail gun.
“I really feel like I’ve played my last game for the last 12 years because the game doesn’t owe anybody anything,” the Milwaukee catcher said. “When you understand that, you appreciate these times more than anything else.”
Still scrapping at 38, Kratz was a .211 career hitter in the bigs, the very definition of a veteran backup catcher. He did have a piece of World Series jewelry, however — he went 0 for 4 in the regular season for Kansas City in 2015, and even though he was nowhere near the playoff roster, the Royals rewarded him with a ring.
Kratz batted .276 (8 for 29) with two homers and three RBIs for the Royals in 2014. He was designated for assignment in the middle of Kansas City’s championship season in 2015.
Kratz was in the minors this June when the Yankees traded him to Milwaukee for a player to be named. He impressed the Brewers with his work regimen and knowledge, and produced enough to earn a spot in the playoffs.
Against Colorado last week, he became the oldest position player to start in his postseason debut since Lave Cross for the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1905 World Series.
“Lave Cross from Milwaukee, yeah, he was a really good third baseman. We played together in rookie ball,” Kratz joked.
“It’s something that is part of history, so maybe in 113 years, some dude is going to be like, Erik Kratz — is it Kratz? What is that?” he said.
No joke: Kratz went 5 for 8 in the NL Division Series sweep of the Rockies, and his Milwaukee teammates started chanting “MVP! MVP!” at him in the bubbly-soaked clubhouse.
“It’s gone from an unsung season to kind of a front-and-center role right now,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
During the series, Kratz reflected on his future in baseball. He realizes time is running out.
“I haven’t had a good enough career to retire. I’m just going to quit. I’ll just be out. That’s what’s going to happen,” he said.