Meet the Brewers unsung heroes so far in 2017

With the Milwaukee Brewers right in the middle of a top to bottom rebuild, expectations were surprisingly low entering the 2017 season. So far though, the team has its own. Milwaukee will enter play on Sunday with a respectable 15-16 record despite losing the first two games in Pittsburgh.

Eric Thames is getting the bulk of the attention after returning from Korea and dominating the league in his first month back. Ryan Braun’s still there too, though he’s been hampered by a flexor strain in his right forearm. Veteran Travis Shaw looks like he’ll be a good fit at third base. But most baseball fans know those names. We want to talk about the unsung heroes of the Brewers season.

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Of course we’re talking about the catching duo of Jett Bandy and Manny Piña, who are both putting up exceptional numbers so far this season despite sharing time almost equally.

It would be safe to say the production of Piña and Bandy has added a dimension to Milwaukee’s lineup that no one expected this season. Jonathan Lucroy they are not in terms of all around talent and production, but manager Craig Counsell has clearly found a formula that’s helped keep them fresh and functional as a unit.

Catchers Jett Bandy (left) and Manny Pina (right) have played key roles in the Brewers respectable start. (AP photos)

Bandy, 27, is the power man of the duo. He’s hitting .304/.361/.571 to go along with four homers and three doubles. He provided some thump in limited playing time for the Angels last season as well, hitting eight homers and nine doubles in 70 games. Bandy was brought to Milwaukee in the Manny Maldonado trade on Dec. 13.

Piña, 29, has been reaching base at a slightly better clip (.333/.375/.483), and is further along defensively. His game-calling and pitch-framing skills have drawn praise from scouts, which should make a better fit on a rebuilding team.

The truth is, Counsell and company probably entered the season feeling the catcher position would be a weakness. Even though both players won’t continue producing at this level, they’ve been able to turn that around. Now Counsell has two options he should feel comfortable rolling with moving forward this season, which is a pretty big deal.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!