We move into your last match up and it’s behind the plate with the catchers. We do still have starters and bullpen to look at, but this is our last everyday sets of position player to compare. Let’s go to New York first with catchers.
The New York Mets have been trying for a couple of seasons now to give their catching job to Travis d’Arnaud. The biggest problem with this move is d’Arnaud hasn’t been able to stay healthy. d’Arnaud played just 31 games in 2013 because of injuries; he did increase his game total to 108 games, but the Mets are looking for d’Arnaud to catch more like a 130 games a season or so. Playing in more games saw d’Arnaud batting average go up 40 points to .242 last season and he did show some power as he hit 13 home runs. In 8 minor league seasons d’Arnaud averaged a combined .290 and you’d think the Mets would be more than pleased if he could get close to that kind of batting average. d’Arnaud is a solid defender behind the plate committing just 9 errors and posting a fielding percentage of .990. Where d’Arnaud needs to improve is throwing out runners attempting to steal; he caught just 19% of them last season. d’Arnaud finished 7th in the NL Rookie of the Year last season; the award was actually won by d’Arnaud’s teammate Jacob deGrom.
After 9 season with the Atlanta Braves Brian McCann signed a 5 year $83 million dollar deal in December of 2013 to join the New York Yankees. The deal also has a 5th year team option for $15 million dollars bring the total amount of McCann;s deal to $98 million dollars. While McCann showed good power tying his 2nd highest career home run total with 23 and adding 75 Runs batted In RBI’s he also tied his 2nd lowest career batting average hitting .232. Teams shifted their defense against McCann more than any other hitter and he’ll have to make some adjustments at the plate to get back to his career batting average of .272. McCann is one of the better defensive catchers in baseball; he had a fielding percentage of .998 he committed just 2 errors and threw out 37% of runners trying to steal. McCann is also one of the best pitch framers in the game which is the hot new stat for catchers even though catchers have been doing it since the beginning of baseball. The Yankees could use a bounce back year average wise from McCann while keeping his other numbers where they are if they hope to contend in the American League East.
Barring injury d’Arnaud should be the Mets catcher for a long time, but I don’t think he’s at the point in his career where I’d take him over McCann. I’d be willing to give McCann the opportunity to bounce back in 2015 over the young up and coming d’Arnaud.
Let’s start on the north side of Chicago with the Cubs catching, but neither Chicago team, the Cubs or the White Sox have a very good catching situation.
The Cubs sent Zack Godley and Jeferson Mejia a couple of minor leaguers to the Arizona Diamondbacks this off-season to acquire catcher Miguel Montero. Montero is a 2 time All-Star and even picked up some votes for NL MVP after both the 2011 and 2012 season. The Cubs are hoping that wasn’t the high point of his career, but in the last 2 seasons his batting average was .230 in 2013 and .243 last season. I’m sure the Cubs would be happy if he could hit his career average of .264. Montero’s not a power hitter, but should get to double-digit home runs as he has in the last 4 seasons. Montero has a reputation as a good defensive catcher, but struggled last season committing a career high 13 errors and posting a fielding percentage of .988. Montero threw out 28% of runners trying to steal which was right on his career number. Montero did lead all catchers in putouts with 1037 and double plays with 12 last season. I’m not sure that Montero was a big upgrade over the catcher the Cubs had on the roster (Wellington Castillo); he might be a little better defender, but that’s about it.
The Chicago White Sox want Tyler Flowers to be the everyday catcher and they’ve been trying it for 2 seasons now. Flowers 2013 season was cut short because of injury and he only played in 84 games. Last season he was able to stay healthy and played in 127 games catching 124 of them. Flowers showed a little bit of power hitting 15 home runs last season. He add 16 doubles. 1 triple and drove in 50 RBI’s while hitting .241 last season. You wonder if those are numbers the White Sox can live with and the best way for Flowers numbers to go up would be for him to cut down on his 2014 strikeout total of 159. Flowers averaged a strikeout every 2.5 at bats last season. Flowers was solid on defense posting a field percentage of .991. Flowers committed 8 errors, but was involved in 6 double plays and threw out 30% of base runners trying to steal. Flowers is 29 years old and you have to wonder how much longer the White Sox can wait for him to develop.
Not a great choice of catchers in Chicago, but you have to take Montero over Flowers. Montero has been a solid catcher during his career while Flowers is still trying to figure out who he’ll be. I’ll go with Montero.
Tomorrow will look at the starting pitching staffs in our Vs. Series.
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