ajellis_sanfran_2013-05-04

2014 Spring Training Preview: Catchers

ajellis_sanfran_2013-05-04

Age BA OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ WAR
A.J. Ellis 33 2013 .238 .318 .364 .304 95 2.2
’14 ZiPS .244 .337 .367 .306 n/a 2.4
’14 Steamer .243 .337 .367 .313 102 3.4
Tim Federowicz 26 2013 .231 .275 .356 .266 69 0.0
’14 ZiPS .233 .295 .362 .285 n/a 1.6
’14 Steamer .228 .298 .352 .287 83 0.3
Drew Butera 30 2013 (AAA) .187 .228 .281 bad n/a n/a
Miguel Olivo 35 2013 (Marlins) .203 .250 .392 .280 73 -0.1
J.C. Boscan 34 2013 (AAA) .232 .297 .270 also bad n/a n/a

 

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2014 Los Angeles Dodgers catchers, also known as “oh please oh please oh please A.J. Ellis stay healthy,” because… there’s not a lot of depth here behind him, is there? (In addition to these five, Griff Erickson and Chris O’Brien will be in camp just because the Dodgers have 32 pitchers and they need someone to catch them. This is not meant to make you feel better.)

Ellis is coming off a bit of a downer year, because while he maintained his power by popping another 10 homers, his OBP dropped by 55 points, thanks to a walk rate that dropped three percent and a BABIP that fell 60 points. On defense, reviews of his ability to frame pitchers were rarely kind. Both ZiPS and Steamer forecast slight rebounds in OBP, but it doesn’t seem like anyone thinks he’s going to get back to the heights that made him the hero of 2012.

Still, he doesn’t need to be what he was in 2012 to be a valuable piece, and the constant rave reviews about his role in the clubhouse and to prepare the pitching staff count in some of the ways that don’t show up on the stat sheet. That’s partially why despite the down year, we never heard a peep about any particularly serious effort to upgrade at the position, which makes sense. If he is merely a somewhat above-average catcher, which isn’t really unreasonable to expect, Ellis is a valuable member of this team,  no matter what Kirk Gibson says.

But really, he has to stay healthy, and he reportedly lost weight this winter in an attempt to do so. You can live with Federowicz as a backup, because he’s got a solid enough defensive reputation that getting him in there once or twice a week is fine, but it’s a real problem if he’s forced to play every day. In parts of three seasons — which to be fair, is still only 193 plate appearances — his line sits at .227/.283/.341. That’s poor, the projection systems don’t really see him improving much, and he’s shown little indication in the minors that there’s much more offense to come. (No one start pointing to his Triple-A numbers, because for the umpteenth time, .348/.416/.592 at home, .255/.338/.390 on the road.)

Beyond that… well, avert your eyes. Take small children out of the room. Butera is arguably the worst hitter in recent history, while at least Olivo can go deep every now and then, on the extremely rare occasion that his bat touches the ball. Boscan is a minor league lifer, with 30 big league plate appearances in a pro career that started back in 1997.

The only intrigue is this: Butera is out of options, which means that he’d have to pass through waivers if and when the Dodgers attempt to send him to Triple-A. (Federowicz has an option remaining, but I’m not ready to delve into those conspiracy theories just yet.)

The good news is that FanGraphs has the Dodger catchers as the 10th best group in baseball, but that comes with an appropriately enormous grain of salt. That projection in based on 3.5 WAR, which I imagine we’d all take, but WAR is not meant to be used down to tenths of a point, and the span of teams that look to be between 3 and 4 WAR include 15 clubs, or half the sport. That’s a pretty big error bar, but it does keep the Dodgers comfortably in the middle of the pack at the position. It does all depend on Ellis, however. If anything happens to him, this could get pretty ugly.

Next upFirst base


About

Mike wrote daily for over six long years (2007-13) about the Dodgers at Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness, which was named 2011′s “Best Sports Blog” by LA Weekly. He can currently be found writing multiple times per week at FanGraphs and ESPN, has been a producer and editor for Sports on Earth, and built The Hardball Times. He lives in New York City and will probably be asleep or on vacation when awesome things happen.


779 comments
capnsparrow
capnsparrow

Stan Kasten trolls reporters. Reporters in turn troll the Bloggers. Bloggers speculate wildly. Commentors speculate even harder in the comment sections of the blogosphere.                         Mark Walter giggles!

efb
efb

is mike writing the new post right now? or is Dustin? or is Chad? or is Daniel? 

Shroom
Shroom

Potential opening day lineup:

Crawford, Puig, Gonzalez, Hanley, Ethier, Guerrero, Uribe, Ellis

Yeah, I like that better than

(2011) Furcal, Gwynn, Ethier, Kemp, Loney, Uribe, Barajas, Carroll 

Purple Drank
Purple Drank

I don't remember when Hanley was acquired. I blacked out at a Giants game that night.

steelmohawk
steelmohawk

Well we know it isn't Wilson Betemit

Shroom
Shroom

I remember back when just adding Hanley to the club got us excited. Now we want all the toys.

Purple Drank
Purple Drank

@Catfishin  I also like it better than 2005, when we had Oscar Robles and Jayson Werth minus a wrist playing everyday

efb
efb

@Catfishin  i cant believe im pissed that Crawford and Ethier are going to be in the lineup together

TheReggieHurley
TheReggieHurley

@TheConman  how bout the other despaigne who didn't even defect yet. im sure money can solve the waiting to get residency problem

Lobo
Lobo

@Catfishin That was the craziest thing because the news broke at like 11 AHT.  We were all just on here going crazy and Mike was asleep

DBrim
DBrim moderator

@Catfishin  I'm doing the SS spring training preview, and... ick.

capnsparrow
capnsparrow

@efb @capnsparrow  they already got half the money and all of the ................. ooh that was close I almost said some shit I would get run for