What happened in 2014: Lost backup catcher role to the out-of-options Drew Butera, had worst catcher’s interference to hits ratio ever (probably).
2014 was a rough season for Tim Federowicz. After getting 173 plate appearances in the majors in 2013, only managed 78 this season. He fell down the depth chart, behind one of the worst hitters of all time (Drew Butera) and a psychopath/terrible defensive catcher (Miguel Olivo). His reduction in playing time occurred despite A.J. Ellis missing significant time with injuries. Federowicz made 50 plate appearances in April, but never managed more than 13 in any other month of the season.
Federowicz’ big question entering the season was if he could somehow translate his 2013 offense from Albuquerque into the majors. In 2013, he only managed a .231/.275/.356 line at the major league level, but hit .418/.500/.848 for the Isotopes, largely thanks to a .532 BABIP. It was clear in April that the answer was a categorical “no.” After being demoted in May, he managed a gaudy 142 wRC+ in 329 plate appearances as the primary starting catcher for the Isotopes. However, in the majors, his incredibly long swing resulted in a wRC+ in the negatives (meaning he was 101% worse than a league average hitter).
That -1 wRC+ looks even worse once you put it into context. Including pitchers, 23 Dodgers had at least 30 plate appearances last season. Tim Federowicz’ -1 wRC+ was the second lowest, behind every pitcher except Hyun-jin Ryu, who was right behind him at -2.
Federowicz’ 2013 batting line would have been acceptable for a backup catcher with good defensive abilities, something scouts have lauded Federowicz for in the past. If you want an example, note that Jose Molina still has a job. Unfortunately, that has been an issue for Federowicz as well. Framing valuations have always disliked him, and he produced a value of -0.7 runs in his limited 2014 playing time according to Baseball Prospectus. Of course, Federowicz’ 2014 season will be remembered for other defensive woes.
On April 18th, in the 10th inning with a runner on first, Paul Goldschmidt was at the plate for the Diamondbacks. Federowicz was called for interference, and it wasn’t particularly close:
This wasn’t a typical “TV doesn’t detect glove getting tipped” interference. Federowicz was hit on the forearm and wrist. Two days later, Goldschmidt was at the plate again:
Federowicz relies on his defense to stick in the major leagues. It’s probably bad that the most enduring memories of him this season are the two times he made contact with Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt caused two other interferences this season, so it isn’t just Federowicz’ fault, but it’s pretty clear from the GIFs that he was reaching way too far forward. On the broadcast after the second incident, Vin Scully called it a “bad habit.”
2014 may be the last time we see Federowicz in a Dodger uniform. He is out of options, and he hasn’t exactly given compelling evidence that he should stick around, even if his competition is Drew Butera. He might stick around as depth if he clears waivers, but if he does clear and is outrighted, it would present a big obstacle for him to ever play in the majors again.
2015 status: Out of options, so his days in the organization could be numbered.