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Jesus Montero Needs To Solve His Righty Problem

Jesus Montero was traded before the 2012 season from the Yankees to the Mariners for Michael Pineda. Montero was finally given a full time job after not being able to break into the Yankees’ lineup. With the Mariners, Montero didn’t hit great, but not horrible either. For 2013, Montero will need to continue growing as a complete hitter for his fantasy value to increase.

The 23-year-old was the 14th highest rated fantasy catcher in 2013 according to Zach Sander’s end of season valuations. I think fantasy owners were expecting a little more from him after being the 4th (2010), 3rd(2011) and 6th(2012) highest rated prospect over the last three years by Baseball America. His hitting wasn’t a disaster (.260 with 15 HRs), but more was expected from him after hitting .308/.366/.501 throughout the minors.

The one advantage going into the 2012 season for Montero was that he would be able to DH on the days he was not catching. The problem is that the right-handed Montero had problems hitting right-handed pitchers and he ended up not in the starting lineup all the time.

Career Numbers
vs RHP: .227/.267/.368
vs LHP: .343/.390/.483

Montero started every game in 2012 as the C or DH when a left-hand pitcher started and the Mariners rested him against right-handers. I never consider drafting a player with the plans on platooning him, but Montero may need to be platooned to limit his downside.

I am not surprised at all to see him hit only 15 HRs with 81 of his games played at spacious Safeco field (9 road HRs vs 6 at home). I could see him be around a 20 HR player next season since the fences are coming in at Safeco.

One item that could show that Montero was improving and learn to mature as a hitter in his first full season was his first and second half splits.

1st Half: .245/.281/.376, 23% K%, 5% NIBB%
2nd Half: .278/.318/.398, 12% K%, 4% NIBB%

I wouldn’t put much stock at all in the improvement. In the 2nd half of the season, 52% of all the games he started was against LHP. In the 1st half of the season he only faced left handed starters 35% of the time. The only possible improvement from the above stats I do see as an improvement with merit is the halving of his K%. Keep an eye on this value going forward into 2013.

Looking forward to 2013, I don’t see much growth for Jesus Montero until he is able to hit RHP better. The inability to hit PHP will likely push him into a platoon role. I think a .250 to .275 AVG and 20 HR would be a reasonable expectation for 2013. If he is able to solve his RHP problems, the numbers would be able to grow to .300 AVG and 30 HR.