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The Other Unranked Catchers, With More Devin Mesoraco

Posted By Eno Sarris On October 15, 2013 @ 12:15 pm In Catchers,Featured,Rankings | 3 Comments

In order to rank only those that played a significant amount, we only looked at players that put in more than 400 plate appearances of work last season. For most positions, that should be fine. For the catcher position, it was a little more iffy. The top 30 catchers by plate appearances only averaged 451 plate appearances, and seven catchers played enough to hit double-digit homers without crossing the 400 PA threshold. Mike Podhorzer will look into Wilson Ramos and Evan Gattis, the most prominent catchers that failed to hit that mark, but there are some other interesting names further down the list.

Here’s the list, re-run with 300 PA as the minimum. Thanks Zach!

Name Pos AB HR R RBI SB AVG $$
1 Mike Napoli C 498 23 79 92 1 0.259 13.80
2 Yadier Molina C 505 12 68 80 3 0.319 13.16
3 Wilin Rosario C 449 21 63 79 4 0.292 12.44
4 Victor Martinez C 605 14 68 83 0.301 12.19
5 Jonathan Lucroy C 521 18 59 82 9 0.280 11.65
6 Carlos Santana C 541 20 75 74 3 0.268 10.82
7 Buster Posey C 520 15 61 72 2 0.294 8.72
8 Jarrod Saltalamacchia C 425 14 68 65 4 0.273 6.57
9 Salvador Perez C 496 13 48 79 0.292 5.60
10 Jason Castro C 435 18 63 56 2 0.276 5.46
11 Joe Mauer C 445 11 62 47 0.324 5.40
12 Matt Wieters C 523 22 59 79 2 0.235 5.17
13 A.J. Pierzynski C 499 17 48 70 1 0.275 4.18
14 Evan Gattis C 354 21 44 65 0.243 1.00
15 Brian McCann C 356 20 43 57 0.256 0.24
16 Russell Martin C 438 15 51 55 9 0.226 -0.74
17 Ryan Doumit C 485 14 49 55 1 0.247 -2.19
18 Wilson Ramos C 287 16 29 59 0.272 -2.41
19 Yan Gomes C 293 11 45 38 2 0.294 -2.48
20 John Buck C 392 15 39 62 2 0.219 -4.35
21 A.J. Ellis C 390 10 43 52 0.238 -6.02
22 J.P. Arencibia C 474 21 45 55 0.194 -6.18
23 Welington Castillo C 380 8 41 32 2 0.274 -6.44
24 Derek Norris C 264 9 41 30 5 0.246 -7.30
25 Nick Hundley C 373 13 35 44 1 0.233 -7.57
26 Alex Avila C 330 11 39 47 0.227 -7.60
27 Miguel Montero C 413 11 44 42 0.230 -7.87
28 Chris Iannetta C 325 11 40 39 0.225 -8.74
29 Carlos Ruiz C 310 5 30 37 1 0.268 -9.74
30 Devin Mesoraco C 323 9 31 42 0.238 -9.75
31 Jose Lobaton C 277 7 38 32 0.249 -9.79
32 Kurt Suzuki C 285 5 25 32 2 0.232 -13.44
33 Chris Stewart C 294 4 28 25 4 0.211 -15.16
34 Jose Molina C 283 2 26 18 2 0.233 -16.48

The most interesting newcomer to me is Devin Mesoraco. The 25-year-old Red backstop peaked as the #11 prospect overall by Baseball America in 2011, so he’s got some pedigree. Unfortunately, his defense was deemed wanting by his manager, and he went on to 589 MLB PA in the three years since he was declared ready for the bigs. He hasn’t wowed in those chances, either, slashing .225/.282/.359 overall. So what exactly drew me to trade for him in my 18-team dynasty with on-base percentage?

For one, the manager that so disliked his defense is gone. And his defensive numbers — by UZR at least — have improved every year in the bigs. If you look a little deeper, he might still have some flaws there. Matt Klaasen’s catcher defense rankings had him exactly middle of the pack after those improvements, and StatCorner’s framing report has him just below average. But! Important Progress! His manager is no longer around, and he’s worked his way to average. Should his bat come around, his glove won’t stop him.

Ah the bat. Here’s what’s so weird about his batting average and on-base percentage. Despite a better-than-average strikeout rate (17.7% career) and a decent walk rate (7.7%), and a ground-ball-heavy batted ball mix (1.24 GB per FB, career), he’s been terribly unlucky with the batted ball (.248 BABIP career). Even his line drive percentage (19.2%) is about in line with league norms. Yes, catchers have bad BABIPs (.286 this year, vs. .299 league), and he’s not fast, but Mesoraco deserves better. xBABIP says he should have had a .321 BABIP. He did pull the ball a bit (47%), but wouldn’t have qualified for the top 20 in that department.

Give Mesoraco a better BABIP, and everything starts to look better, especially if more playing time comes with it, courtesy of his new manager. Since Ryan Hanigan saw his offense crater, and has no power even when he’s going well, there’s an opportunity here for the young Red. A .260 batting average and 15 homers is within his reach, even if that sounds familiar and puts him in a scrum for anywhere from 12th to 20th in the rankings next year. But with a guy that has this much pedigree, good plate discipline, and a history of great power in the minor leagues (near .300 ISOs at two stops), you really shouldn’t forget about him.


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