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Chris Iannetta Appreciation Day: Help Me Understand

We’re now sitting here in mid-July and four times the Catcher Rankings have been adjusted to reflect both the current season’s performance and expected rest of season projections.  For the most part, the criticisms have been mild as we all seem to be, reasonably, on the same page.  However, there’s one thing that continuously sticks out at me and today, I feel it’s time to address it.  The title obviously says it all, but still, I feel it necessary to ask the question:  What’s up with all the Chris Iannetta love?

Listen, I get where most of you are coming from — those of you citing his uber-inflated BB% and subsequently overblown OBP, but is he really doing so much that he warrants this “best kept secret” label for catchers that some of you are tagging on him?  Remember, this is fantasy baseball here, and frankly, if we’re talking about a standard one catcher league with the usual five categories for offensive players, then Iannetta shows up as just your average backstop…barely.

There’s no denying that Iannetta has quality power potential.  His current .192 ISO ranks seventh amongst catchers who have appeared in atleast 50 games this season and with a career mark of .200, you know he’s got some muscle there.  However, when you look at the power totals in the counting stats, his 10 HR ties him for sixth with the likes of Alex Avila, whom very few of you seem to believe in, Matt Wieters, whom most of you have written off over the last year or two, and players like Ramon Hernandez and John Buck, both of whom could have been had for much cheaper in your draft.  So he’s got the power potential but isn’t doing much with it really, atleast not like Carlos Santana or even Miguel Olivo are doing.  His 34 RBI ties him for 11th, nestled ever so gently behind Jonathan Lucroy.

Some will point to his no-better-than-average RBI total and immediately blame Jim Tracy for burying him in the 8-hole in the order.  However, considering Clint Hurdle had him hitting seventh or eight for most of his tenure as manager, one would have to assume that maybe the blame should fall on Iannetta’s current .219 batting average — .232 for his career.  Sure, his OBP is great and that allows for more sacrifices by pitchers during the games, but when the guy is more of a guaranteed out than a productive member of the lineup, where else are you going to hit him?  Cleanup?

What about the rest?  Runs scored?  Adequate.  33 runs scored has him tied for seventh.  Speed?  None.  His three steals this season actually marks a career high and one that will probably not be improved on at all.  WAR?  Who cares?  I’ve yet to play in any fantasy baseball league that counts WAR as a category.

So here we are with average home runs, average RBI production, average runs scored, no speed, and a batting average that’s slightly better than that of your dead grandmother.  He’s been in the league since 2006, peaked in ’08, and has been nothing short of disappointing since.  Some might say that ranking 7th or 8th in a category is better than average considering the number of catchers in the league, but when most leagues consist of anywhere from 10-14 teams, you’re cutting the necessary player pool in half.  Even less, actually.  Maybe if your league counts OBP or OPS instead of batting average then you’ve got yourself a slightly above-average backstop, but again, is he giving your fantasy team that much more value than you could get later on or cheaper in your draft?

::shakes Magic 8 Ball::