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Catchers on the Mend

For the most part, the catcher position has been a pretty big disappointment this season.  Some have performed as expected, but by and large, there are more downs than ups.  Hopefully, things will pick up in the second half when we get a serious influx of players coming back from injuries who might be better options than the Nick Hundley, Miguel Olivo, or Jason Castro that you have sitting in your catcher slot right now.  They’re not all precious gems coming back, but some are definitely better than others and likely better than what’s out on your waiver wire as well.

Geovany Soto, CHC — Fresh off the disabled list on Monday and immediately inserted into the lineup.  Offensively he was a disappointment to start the season and unfortunately that trend did not change during his rehab assignment.  Still, he’s likely a better option than some of the other aforementioned backstops, so perhaps he can rein himself in, maybe be a little more selective at the plate and fix those outside-the-zone swing percentages.

Salvador Perez, KC — We were hoping to see Perez back this week, but the Royals are being extremely cautious with their primary backstop after signing him to an extension during the spring.  He’s been batting .333 on his Triple-A rehab assignment and has just begun catching full games back to back.  You won’t see a lot of power but he doesn’t strike out very often.  He usually makes solid contact, so if his BABIP stays around league average, he could hit close to .300 the rest of the way.

Ramon Hernandez, COL — The impending return of Hernandez is actually more about the adverse affect on Wilin Rosario than it is about using the veteran backstop in your lineup.  Rosario has been filling in rather nicely as the primary catcher for Colorado, and while the .230 average stinks, the nine home runs and 27 RBI have been great and he’s even kicked in three stolen bases.  Obviously, if it goes back to being a straight platoon, you’re looking at fewer opportunities fro Rosario, so you might want to think about preparing for that with another option.

Alex Avila, DET — He’s been a relative disappointment this season and given the fact that his K% remains close to last season’s and his walk rate has dropped, all while swinging at fewer pitches this year, fuels the belief that last year was tremendously luck driven with his .364 BABIP.  His LD% this year is even up from last year and still nothing.  Plenty of ground balls being mashed into the dirt though.  Still, if he starts his rehab assignment on Monday or Tuesday like he is supposed to, then there’s plenty of time for him to right the ship.  And even if he hovers around what he’s done here in the first half, it’s still better than what some of the other garbage behind the plate is providing.

Chris Iannetta, LAA — He’s had his rehab assignment pushed back twice now, but is supposedly starting up sometime next week.  Coming back from a wrist injury never bodes well for power, and upon his return, if he hits the way he did to open the year, then you may as well let someone else have the headache.  As expected, his move to the AL pushed his walk rate down while increasing both his strikeouts and his ground ball rates.  No more hitting in front of a pitcher really took a toll on his on-base percentage too.  He has a lot to prove before losing the” low-end second catcher in a two-catcher league” label.

Jonathan Lucroy, MIL — Probably the furthest off from any of these guys, but word on the street is that Lucroy will have his cast removed either later this week or sometime next week and from there he’ll be able to start taking some cuts and seeing where he’s at, health-wise.  The good thing for him is that neither of his replacements are doing much to supplant him, so you can probably expect him to return to his starting duties when he is ready.  There was nothing to be unhappy with regarding Lucroy’s numbers to start the year, but you’ll have to keep in mind his BABIP was at .381 and the likelihood of him maintaining that or the .237 ISO are very slim.  Pretty tough to do so regardless of how nice the batted ball data looked.  Given it’s a hand injury, you can probably expect some power struggles early in as well.