2012 Slash Line: .274/.365/.338
2013 Projection: .275/.370/.355
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
Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at jasonlinden.com.