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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Your catcher should not be one of your better hitters. Updated from 2013.

Catchers get hurt and/or they must be rested to prevent them from getting hurt.

Your catcher should not be one of your better hitters.  Saturday, November 30, 2013

Conventional wisdom in recent years has been that a team has an advantage if it has good offensive production from a defensive position, generally one up the middle: catcher, shortstop, second base, center field.  The Yankees since 1996 are used as an example: Jorge PosadaDerek JeterRobinson CanoBernie Williams.

However, that only helps if the team has big boppers at the corners, otherwise it's just shifting it's offense.

I now think that it's a mistake to pay too much money to a catcher.  The Jorge Posada model is outdated...

Here are the catchers to simply play enough to qualify for leadership in averages, which is only 502 plate appearances (PA) in order by OPS+:


No more than nine in any season and only three qualified each of the three seasons:
Yadier Molina  StL
Carlos Santana Cle
Matt Wieters Bal ...

Using common sense we can figure that a player will have four PA per game.  If we divide the required 502 PA by four we get 112 games needed to qualify for leading in batting average, etc.  That's a very low threshold.  It's only 69% of the 162 scheduled games.

That actually fits well with my suggestion that teams use two catchers.  The ideal would be one catcher who hits lefty getting 70% of the games and another catcher who hits righty getting the remaining 30%.

The problem is that teams are paying full time salaries for part time players.  For $17 million the Yankees can get a really good full time player or a really good starting pitcher.  The Giants will be paying Buster Posey $21 million per season as he ages.  The Twins have been paying Joe Mauer $23 million and Mauer will transition to first base in 2014 and get that same pay for several more years.  It's nuts...

teams are becoming much more concerned about concussions, especially for catchers who absorb most of that type of physical abuse in baseball

So what happened to the three iron men: Molina, Santana, Wieters?

Yadier Molina: age 32, 2014 salary $15 million, 425 (PA), OPS+ 103

Carlos Santana: age 28, 2014 salary $3.5 million, 637 PA, OPS+ 129, MOVED TO FIRST BASE!

Matt Wieters: age 28, 2014 salary $7.7 million, 112 PA, OPS+ 134, injured; last played May 10, 2014.

In 2014 only seven of thirty teams had a catcher qualify for BA.  Sorted by OPS+:

Jonathan Lucroy August 2, 2010
by hj_west via Wikimedia Commons
Even with a late season surge, McCann's hitting is still below league average.  He and Posey are paid the most.

Posey: $21 million
Lucroy: $2 million
Navarro: $3 million
Montero: $10 million
McCann: $17 million
Perez: $1.5 million
Castro: $2.5 million

Lucroy at 28 is an MVP candidate for $2 million, second lowest among these seven catchers.  He's signed through 2017 when his pay reaches $5.25 million, team option; $25,000 buyout.  McCann stayed healthy in 2014 but did not hit anywhere near what he did when he was young.  McCann currently leads all catchers in 2014 with 22 homers but his on base average is below .300.  So how dumb are the Yankees for signing McCann for FIVE years at $17 million per season?

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