2013 Reds

Redleg Nation 2013 Preview: Ryan Hanigan & Devin Mesoraco

Ryan Hanigan
2012 Slash Line: .274/.365/.338
2013 Projection: .275/.370/.355

Devin Mesoraco
2012 Slash Line: .212/.288/.352
2013 Projection: .255/.325/.440

2012 Hanigan WAR: 2.9
2013 Best Guess Hanigan WAR: 2.5
Projected Difference: -0.4
2013 Floor: 1.0
2013 Ceiling: 4.0

2012 Mesoraco/Navarro WAR: 0.4
2013 Best Guess Mesoraco WAR: 1.5
Projected Difference: +1.1
2013 Floor: 0.5
2013 Ceiling: 3.0

Total Projected Catcher WAR: 4.0
Total Projected Difference: +0.6

Sorry for the run of numbers at the top, catcher is a complicated position to project.

Okay, let’s start with the basics: It looks like Mesoraco is going to be the #2 catcher. He’s having the better spring and he’s already on the roster. I don’t think Miguel Olivo really has a shot.

On performance: Offensively, we know what we’re getting with Hanigan. Plenty of OBP, no power at all, but certainly good enough for a catcher. The slight regression you see has to do with the unpredictable nature of defensive stats. Not included in his WAR value (because no one includes this), is his value as a pitch-framer. I’ve written about this before (most recently in the Redleg Annual which you can, conveniently, get here), but he gets a lot of credit for how Reds pitchers perform and has certainly earned the right to be a #1 catcher.

It won’t last forever, though, and Mesoraco should start stepping in now. I want to dispense with the Mesoraco naysayers right away. Last year, he did poorly in a small sample of at bats and had terrible BABIP luck (the worst luck on the team, as it happens). Not to be overly confrontational, but any language about him blowing an opportunity or wilting under pressure is just nonsense. He. Had. Bad. Luck. In. A. Small. Sample.

It is entirely possible (though unlikely) that he will never pan out, but we learned nothing useful about that from his performance last year. He should improve drastically this year and my projections are in no way out of line with others you can find. I would not be surprised at all to see him hit well enough to take at bats away from Hanigan. It is conceivable that he could outhit Hanigan, Frazier, Cozart, and Phillips. I don’t think he will, but he could. So, if you’re still assuming he’s a bum. Stop it. He’s a kid. And he had a rough first go round.

I’ve said my piece on each player. I suspect a lot of you will take issue with some of it. That’s cool. I’m ready for a good old fashioned debate. In the end, I think the Reds will have a very god catching tandem this year, and depending on Mesoraco, it could be excellent.

Redleg Nation Season Preview Schedule

Joey Votto – 2/27
Brandon Phillips – 3/1
Todd Frazier – 3/4
Zack Cozart – 3/6
Ryan Ludwick – 3/8
Shin-Soo Choo – 3/11
Jay Bruce – 3/13
Ryan Hanigan & Devin Mesoraco – 3/15
Bench – 3/18
Johnny Cueto & Mat Latos – 3/20
Aroldis Chapman & Mike Leake – 3/22
Homer Bailey & Bronson Arroyo – 3/25
Bullpen – 3/27
Updates & Preview Wrap-Up – 3/29

38 thoughts on “Redleg Nation 2013 Preview: Ryan Hanigan & Devin Mesoraco

  1. Biggest issue for this team is not Chapman or Joey’s health, those things will both be fine.

    The biggest issue is how well our Sophomores do: Frazier, Cozart and Mesoraco.

    The biggest upside from last year is Devin. And offensively, he may have the most potential of the three.

    A year at those projections for Mesoraco will have a lot of fans happy in Redsland.

  2. Mesoraco will be an all-star at some point. That said, we so have the wrong manager to deal with the possible emergence of Mesoraco. Dusty will be late to recognize when his playing time should increase. I know, I can’t hang Dusty on what-ifs, but let’s just hope it doesn’t replicate the Hatteberg/Votto situation.

    Not to dismiss Hanigan. He’s an excellent player. It’s just that when you hit for so little power, the OPS bar gets pretty low.

    First world problems.

    • @Sultan of Swaff: I agree 100% of the time. I think Ryan hanigan is very underrated nationally but very overrated by reds fans. Our pitchers are really good, regardless of who they are throwing to. Hanigan has a great OBP, but it’s from the 8 hole so he gets on first to get stranded by the pitcher.

      • @hatchmo: first off, it’s not hannigan’s fault that his manager doesn’t respect OBP. second, having an 8-hole hitter who gets on in front of the pitcher is actually pretty valuable, in that you get to turn the lineup over a lot more.

        having a blackhole in the 8th spot means that you’re gonna lead off a lot of innings with the pitcher’s spot.

    • I did an nice little overview of what I saw from Mesoracro while I was at Spring Training about 2 weeks ago. I am very optimistic for him and the Reds from what I saw for a small sample size?

    • Mesoraco will be an all-star at some point. That said, we so have the wrong manager to deal with the possible emergence of Mesoraco. Dusty will be late to recognize when his playing time should increase. I know, I can’t hang Dusty on what-ifs, but let’s just hope it doesn’t replicate the Hatteberg/Votto situation.Not to dismiss Hanigan. He’s an excellent player. It’s just that when you hit for so little power, the OPS bar gets pretty low. First world problems.

      @Sultan of Swaff: I hope you’re right about Mesoraco being a future All-Star. In the meantime, Meso just needs to show that he’s even almost as good as Hanigan, much less an All-Star. Prove it on the field/earn your playing time.

      As for Baker, the whole vet bias thing is BS. Particularly, when you hang your hat on the “Hatteberg/Votto situation”. Hatteberg was the starter in 2006, and got 60% of the starts at 1B in 2007, with Jeff Conine getting 35%, Votto 10% (17 G at 1B, and yes 6 G at LF), and Jorge Cantu 9%. Hatteberg put up splits of .289/.389/.436 and .310/.394/.474 in 2006 and 2007, respectively, so he was having good years. Baker became manager in 2008; and lo and behold, Dusty made Votto his starting first baseman. Votto played 144 G at 1B (89%)(and no games elsewhere) in 2008, while Hatteberg got 10 G at 1B (10%). Yeah, that’s some veteran bias. The veteran starter got a whopping 10 G and 61 PA while THE ROOKIE Votto had 144 G and 589 PA.

      How, exactly, was Dusty “late to recognize when (Votto’s) playing time should increase”?

  3. fortunately, Hannigan has more in the tank that Hatte had at that point Sultan, but I agree with you.

    I do not think there are many Reds fans who are not satisfied with the work that Hanningan does. However, any time we can improve the roster at a key position (Chapman to the rotation, or Votto over Hatteberg) we need to do it.

    The great thing about Hannigan is that he is such a good team guy and can contribute off the bench. He makes a 2 catcher strategy easy to understand

  4. I would like to see Devin get at least a couple of weeks straight of starting time, to see exactly what we have. Nothing permanent, just the opportunity. For, I do believe last year, Devin was trying to adjust being “the man” to catching less than 50%, which can be hard for some.

  5. Another good preview by Jason. I appreciate how you present yours as ‘this is my projection’ rather than ‘this is what is going to happen’.

    I was thrilled when the Reds brought in Miguel Cairo as a legitimate threat to Devin Mesoraco’s role as backup catcher, and even more thrilled with how things have unfolded with Mesoraco vastly outperforming his competitor. I like that even this far into spring training Dusty is implying there is competition, giving an opportunity for Mesoraco to continue to prove himself as a candidate and for Olivo to push himself further out of consideration. Other decisions, like choosing Donald over Izturis and Burriss, might be tougher, even if they’re straightforward.

    Going into 2013 Mesoraco seems like the Reds player best positioned for a breakout season. Maybe guys like Bruce and Leake can continue to improve but they’ve already, to some extent, established themselves as predictable MLB players. I’m hoping Mesoraco’s spring success carriers over into the regular season.

    I don’t envy Dusty Baker’s situation, at times like this it would be nice to have a DH. If he plays Hanigan over Mesoraco he’ll get accused of favoring veterans (Hatteberg over Votto or Rolen over Frazier all over again), if he plays Mesoraco over Hanigan he’ll get accused of wasting such a valuable player. Whether or not Mesoraco is an improvement, overall offensively and defensively, over Hanigan is open to debate. Kinda a no-win situation for Dusty, unless Ryan Hanigan gets hurt. I’d be really interested in Bryan Price’s thoughts on the matter based on how well Mesoraco has caught and worked with the pitchers this spring.

    There’s a nice new article on MLB.com about Mesoraco today:

    http://reds.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130314&content_id=42744870&notebook_id=42755926&vkey=notebook_cin&c_id=cin

    • @TC: Meso naysayers are undermined by this blistering Spring performance of Meso (against starting pitchers too, not just non-roster scrubs)!

      Unfortunately, they will turn out ‘en masse’ during his first slump of the season with their ‘I told you so’ comments and their 20/20 hindsight.

  6. Regarding how under/overrated Hanigan is, consider this…

    Last year, Hanigan was worth 2.9 wins in 112 games. That pro-rates to 4.2 wins in a full season (set aside for now that Hanigan can’t play a full season. The point is to put in context how good he is when he starts).

    That doesn’t account for pitch framing at all. And all the studies done show Hanigan as one of the best, so you can easily tack another 1-2 wins on there (again, over a full season).

    So, if he were a full-time player, Hanigan could reasonably be expected to contribute 5-6 wins per year. That’s a great year for Phillips or an off year for Votto.

    Ryan Hanigan is still underrated by everyone. Including Reds fans.

  7. With Mesoraco’s emergence this spring both defensively and offensively, it gives the Reds the best catching tandem in MLB. To go along with the best bullpen, one of the best if not the best starting rotations, and with the addition of Choo, quite possibly one of the best two or three 1-8 batting lineups in MLB. Its a good day to be a Reds fan wherever you may be.

  8. Jesus guys,

    Mesoraco’s hot spring should have almost zero influence on our (or the organization’s) opinion of him. It’s nice to see him succeed (and nice to hear the coaches and announcers toss some praise his way, for once), but it’s 19 at bats and absolutely meaningless.

    His approach was always there. Heck, his OBP matched the guy who hit #1 & #2 for the majority of the year last year, and his batting average was 30 points lower…

    • Jesus guys,

      Mesoraco’s hot spring should have almost zero influence on our (or the organization’s) opinion of him. It’s nice to see him succeed (and nice to hear the coaches and announcers toss some praise his way, for once), but it’s 19 at bats and absolutely meaningless.

      His approach was always there.Heck, his OBP matched the guy who hit #1 & #2 for the majority of the year last year, and his batting average was 30 points lower…

      @CP: I approve of all of this. Let’s be friends.

    • @CP: You obviously didn’t read the article above. Mesoraco’s bad year can be attributed to three things: highly unlucky BABIP, extremely small sample size (184 PAs), and rookie youth. He’s young, his approach will improve as he gets more playing time, and his BABIP will improve to the mean at least. He’s going to be great one day, and he’ll start to show it this year.

      • @MikiLove: I think you’re misreading my post. I am a staunch Mes supporter, just pointing out that it’s ludicrous for anyone to change their opinion of him based on his spring training stats (and particularly ridiculous for the organization itself).

    • Mesoraco’s hot spring should have almost zero influence on our (or the organization’s) opinion of him

      True. Things that should play into the Reds’ evaluation of Mes, probably in this order:
      1. Their observations of his approach from last year.
      2. 2010-11 minor league numbers (950 PAs).
      3. 2012 MLB stats (184 PA), including BABIP adjustments.
      4. Eyeball observations of his approach this offseason and spring, including practice.
      5. Scouting reports dating back to when he was drafted #1 overall.
      6. Spring training 2013 stats.

  9. I’ve posted this before, but there is some Dusty Mythology that has to be dispelled on Votto-Hatteberg. In 2008, Scott Hatteberg started 8 games at first base. Joey Votto started 138. Hatteberg had 61 PAs that year; Votto had 589.

    The Reds were very disappointed in Mesoraco last year, and that includes the starting pitching staff. I won’t look it up again, having posted on it before, but I think Arroyo threw exclusively to Hannigan; Cueto and Latos threw overwhelmingly to Hannigan; Bailey threw far better when pitching to Hannigan; and only Mike Leake threw mostly to Meso. Meso is not nearly the defensive catcher that Hannigan is, and we will see how much he improves and how much he gains the confidence of the starters. Meso appears to be in better physical condition than last year, and the Reds can probably expect a more professional approach from him overall this year. But Hannigan seems to be the much the better option for now.

  10. But Hatte hit 310 in 207 with an 868 and 47 RBI’s

    I remember that he started 2008 and we were champing at the bit for Joey

    • @reaganspad:

      But Hatte hit 310 in 207 with an 868 and 47 RBI’sI remember that he started 2008 and we were champing at the bit for Joey

      As Big (Red) Ed pointed out above, this is mythology. Hatteberg only started 8 games at 1B in 2008, with 7 CG (he only appeared in 16 G at 1B). Meanwhile, Votto started 138 G at 1B, with 128 CG, and 144 appearances at 1B. All for a rookie who was called up for the first time the previous September after 1 season at AAA. How long was it that you waited for Votto? Baker became the manager in 2008 and immediately started the rookie ahead of the veteran.

      After two plus months of sitting on the bench, Hatteberg was cut.

  11. I also believe that under “observation of his approach this year” includes any clubhouse/attitude issues. I know we really don’t know as fans what transpires behind closed doors or the politics thereof, but there was too much smoke not to yell ‘fire’ regarding personal opinions about Mes. I trust that all is well this season in happyville.

  12. For some reason Olivo caught Chappy again. I don’t think Mes or Hanigan have caught one of his starts . . .

  13. Was just listening to the Reds-Brewers radio broadcast from earlier in the day, and Brantley said he thinks the idea of Chapman starting in spring training was mainly to get him to use more of his pitching repertoire, so to speak, and to light a fire under Mike Leake. When asked directly by Thom Brennaman whether he thinks Chapman will be in the rotation or bullpen, Brantley said the bullpen. … He said he thinks the Reds are a better team with Leake in the rotation and Chapman as the closer.

    Brantley also said later in the broadcast that he thinks this is the make-or-break year for whether to ever try Chapman in the rotation.

    Coupled with Chapman’s own desire to close, I’m increasingly beginning to think he won’t be in the rotation after all.

    • @Brian Van Hook: I did not hear the broadcast, so I can not discredit what you heard. But, I do know that Brantly has been a very vocal supporter of putting Chapman in the rotation. Him saying that the reds are better with AC in the pen goes against everything he has said publically for the last three months. That doesn’t make sence to me.

      • @RiverCity Redleg: I was pretty shocked, too. Because mostly I had heard for a while now that Marty and Brantley were split about Chapman, with Marty saying leave him in the pen and Brantley wanting him to start. If I get a chance, I’ll revisit that game broadcast through mlb.com, but I’m pretty certain that’s what I heard, especially Thom asking him point-blank for a preference.

        Was there supposed to have been a meeting later yesterday with Dusty, Walt, Price, Chapman and whoever else and resolve this thing??? I heard them mention planning a meeting of that type and I think they said later Sunday, but on that point I’m not so sure. … I’ll be quite happy to get a decision and get it over with. … I’ll add this: Marty commented yesterday that in the list of what pitchers are supposed to start games through Friday, Leake was listed Friday and Chapman was not listed at all. Mean anything? I dunno. Maybe Chapman starts Saturday.

        • @Brian Van Hook: I dunno, either. But, yes, I also thought they were supposed to get this resolved one way or the other. It certainly appears that people around the org are doing a 180 on Chappy. I hope that’s not the case, but we’ll see..

  14. Yeah, I saw the same comments on MLB, Ohio Jim. BVH, those comments are also illuminating. It seems like Chapman relishes the closer role. Not looking good for those of us who are pushing for him to be in the rotation.

  15. At some point in the last couple of years, wasn’t Chapman quoted as preferring to start? It’s in my memory bank somewhere, but I can’t find the quote…

    • @RC: Here’s an enlightening quote from Mark Sheldon’s article: “In the beginning when I started closing, it was something I didn’t know,” Chapman said. “But as I started throwing and getting into the late part of the game when the game is more exciting and has more meaning, I kind of liked it. Yeah, the adrenaline goes up and I like to be in that situation. I would like to be a closer, yeah, but there are some things that I can’t control.”

      Maybe Chapman had a preference that has now changed after he grew to enjoy last year’s role.

  16. Starting is way more work. It’s not surprising – I am putting very little stock in Chapman’s preference.

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