Baseball has a way of turning the most anonymous player into a star in October.
On Sept. 3, the Cubs were five games ahead of the Brewers in the NL Central. Cole Hamels took the mound that night in Milwaukee and pitched well, allowing two runs in six innings to lower his ERA to an even 1.00 in seven starts with the Cubs.
At that time, who would have ever guessed that a month later, Erik Kratz would be the former Phillie making the biggest playoff impact?
Kratz, the journeyman catcher who spent 2011 through 2013 in the Phils' system and came back for a second stint in 2015, was key for the Brewers in their NLDS sweep over the Rockies. He went 5 for 8, breaking open Game 2 with a two-run single in the eighth inning and going 3 for 4 in the Game 3 clincher.
He also caught two shutouts.
At 38, Kratz became the oldest position player to make his postseason debut since 1905. He had three more hits in the NLDS than he had in the majors in all of 2017.
"If you told me 16 years ago that I'd be here today I wouldn't have changed the path that I took," Kratz told MLB.com after Game 3. "I never gave up. I've been blessed every day to be in this situation."
Kratz's story is one of perseverance. He was a 29th-round pick. He didn't make his MLB debut until the age of 30. He has never had a multi-year contract.
And yet here he is, playing an integral role for a Brewers team that is hotter than any in baseball.
Kratz has always been an extremely likable guy. And although he's just a .211 lifetime hitter with a .258 OBP, he does have 30 home runs and 32 doubles in 868 plate appearances. There aren't many above-average offensive catchers in starting roles, let alone backup roles. Out of a backup catcher, most teams typically seek power and defense.
Kratz has both. He's also regarded as a very good pitch-framer, something this current Phillies regime is obsessed with.
In a Chase Utley-less postseason devoid of rooting interests for Phillies fans, Kratz is definitely a guy to cheer for.