You think you’re excited for spring training? You have nothing on the catchers from the NL Central. For Pttsburgh, Ryan Doumit is looking to continue the late season hitting prowess and certainly wants to stay healthy for a complete season. Geovany Soto is psyched to show off his new figure for the Slim Fast commercials. And the rest of the NL Central catchers are about as exciting as Olympic pairs figure skating.
Gregg Zaun takes his catcher’s mitt to Milwaukee this year to provide the usual average production. What did you expect? He’s Gregg Zaun. At least the Pirates won’t have Jason Kendall pushing Jeff Karstens around any longer. J.R. Towles for the Astros has shown some pop and a nice OPS, but that was in the minors.
Yadier Molina is exciting in a George ‘The Animal’ Steele sort of way. Molina is thrilled to finally stop salivating while waiting for opposing runners to try and steal. Yadier! Spring training has arrived and plenty of youngsters will be testing your cannon. Now wipe your mouth big boy, because here are the Preseason NL Central catcher rankings:
1. Yadier Molina had a 749 OPS in 2009. Won a Gold Glove. An All Star. A Cardinal. What else can the guy do? We see the RBI numbers growing this season. Almost all of our data shows 285 BAVG/8HR/65RBI
Against the Buccos, Molina had eleven hits in forty at-bats with a triple and a home run. He collected five RBI and seven BB.
In this video, Piero Menor, a Spanish reporter who somehow got onto the field at Busch Stadium, tries to get Molina to pull a groin playing soccer. Didn’t quite work, but the spelling on Nate McClouth was original– You can always proofread for us at RumBunter. [Part II of Menor's work is even better, Pujols crushes a soccer ball]
Yadier Molina 2009 Stats:
Caught Stealing: 22-of-54 (41%)
2. Ryan Doumit desperately needs to stay healthy. He has only been behind the plate for more than 100 games once and that was in 2008. He finished up his last 81 September at bats with a 346/424/481. 2009 saw a few things happen to Doumit: his 271 BABIP was down from his above average 307 for his career. He hit less line drives. Struggled against the fastball too.
But as we say each year…this is the year Doumit does it. His average will be around 280 and he will hit 20HR/70RBI which will quadruple his 2009 VORP. The Doumit jersey will be the new black for Pirate fans. Let’s just trust Neal Huntington holds onto him so we can keep Doumits’ jersey on our backs and not being sent to the Salvation Army.
Tony Plush makes a guest appearance after Ryno is plunked in this retro Indianapolis Indians video.
Caught Stealing: 20-of-64 (31%)
3. Geovany Soto was awful. His average disappeared largely due to BABIP falling from 337 in 2008 to 251 in 2009. In the offseason, he attended new teammate Tom Gorzelanny’s Fitness Studio for conditioning. He is in the best shape of his life, sigh, we’re going to hear that a lot this week. But Soto will rebound. We took out our projectional dart board/spreadsheet models to peg Soto at 265/18HR/65RBI
Soto hit Pirate pitchers hard last season (again) with twelve hits in thirty at bats. He had four 2B, a triple and four RBI with seven walks. He slugged 769 at PNC Park.
Some fans like long winded tributes, some prefer to listen to how great Geovanny is…here you go.
Geovany Soto 2009 Stats
Caught Stealing: 23-of-82 (28%)
4. Ramon Hernandez went down in July with a knee. The Reds signed him to a one-year, so Hernandez can make some coin with a solid year. Just don’t see it though, he’s a big man packed into a six foot frame, who will fight that knee all season, so we see 250/12HR/55RBI a 12 or 13 VORP.
Hernandez had seven hits in 22 at-bats with two doubles against the Bucs last year. In the video below, Hernandez is talking about the three-hitter Aaron Harang hung on the necks of the Bucs April 12, 2009.
Ramon Hernandez 2009 Stats:
Caught Stealing: 18-of-51 (35%)
5. J.R. Towles has been bashed by a few blogs, stat driven web sites, and of course Astros fans. We aren’t going to do that. J.R. turned the corner late last season and is the best shot at offense the Astros have at the position. .255BAVG/9HR/400SLG with an 11 VORP
Towles didn’t have a hit in two at-bats, but did score a run after earning a walk when the Bucs and Astros played at Minute Maid Park.
J.R. Towles 2009 Stats:
VORP: Negative 1.7
Caught Stealing: 1-of-11 (9%)
6. Gregg Zaun is underated. We know. We won’t break that trend. We see a 250BAVG/7HR/45RBI below 10 VORP
He does have a sweet mullet though.
Gregg Zaun 2009 Stats:
Caught Stealing: 11-of-54 (20%)