Player spotlight: Jeff Clement

I thought with the recent call-up of Jeff Clement, it would be a good idea to put a mini-“Player Spotlight” on him. Those of you looking for help at catcher, the cavalry may have just arrived.

2005	21	A	MDW	113	78%	0.366	13%	10%	19	10	22%	30%
2006	22	AAA	PCL	245	78%	0.314	20%	6%	61	18	8%	26%
2007	23	AAA	PCL	455	81%	0.303	19%	12%	23	8	18%	30%
2008	24	AAA	PCL	78	85%	0.426	---	22%	16	6	---	---

Clement absolutely tore apart Triple-A this year. It was his third time around and it was in a sample of just 78 at-bats, but they were 78 marvelous ones. Even before this year, he was putting up pretty good contact rates for a catcher and doing a good amount of walking. This plate discipline should help him while adjusting to the majors. He puts up decent fly ball rates, and his HR/FB rates are quite good, as are his AB/XBH.

Perhaps the primary reason for concern is his 2006 season. This line looks out of place among the others in the power department. This worries me a little in that if Clement is the type of guy who takes a little longer to adjust to a level, he might struggle in the majors this year. We need to remember, though, that he was just 22 at the time and had less than 200 professional baseball at-bats at that point (11 in Low-A, 113 in Single-A, and 59 in Double-A).

So what should we expect from Clement this year? Well, given an 80 percent contact rate, .300 BABIP, 30 percent outfield fly ball rate, and 15 percent HR/OF FB, Clement would hit .265 with 18 home runs in 500 at-bats. That should easily make him a top-10 catcher, and he certainly has the talent to do even better. Plus, he’s been batting fifth. If that continues, he could have some nice RBI value as well.

Host	Catcher eligible?
Yahoo!	No

Clement already has catcher eligibility in FOX and CBS leagues (or at least in the leagues I’m in, which I believe are standard setups). He needs five games to be eligible in Yahoo! and 10 (I believe, please correct me if I’m wrong) in ESPN.

Given the lackluster performances of Kenji Johjima, Jose Vidro and Ben Broussard this year, Clement should find plenty of playing time. (Johjima was just re-signed long-term, though, so the Mariners won’t give up on him easily.) If he starts off relatively well, he could find himself starting every day, either as the DH (spelling Johjima on days off) or splitting time among three positions. What Yahoo! and ESPN leaguers are first concerned with, though, is his playing time as a catcher.

He has already played in two games at catcher, as Johjima took a break. Johjima won’t play every day, being a catcher, and the Mariners have already shown the willingness to play Clement as his backup.

Playing on Kenji’s days off should give Clement enough games to claim eligibility in Yahoo! leagues within maybe 10-14 days. ESPN leaguers (assuming the requirement is indeed 10 games), well, it really depends on your individual league and team’s situation whether you should pick him up. Is he worth a No. 1 waiver claim? Depending on your current catcher situation, I would probably lean toward “yes.”

In other leagues where the eligibility limit is five games or where he is already eligible, he needs to be owned. If you have questions on which catchers he should be owned over, feel free to send me an e-mail.

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