The offseason is unfortunately here and so we are simultaneously tasked with reflecting on the 2015 season and looking forward to next spring. As part of Rumbunter’s off-season coverage, we will be grading out virtually every member of the Pittsburgh Pirates who spent substantial time on the team’s 25-man roster over the past season. We will look at their seasons as a whole, show you their relevant stats, and assign a final grade to each player. Today’s entry:Francisco Cervelli
When the Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 season was Bumgarner’d in the NL Wildcard game, fans in the stands were chanting, “re-sign Russ” because they wanted Russell Martin back more than anything. As we know, Martin signed a huge mega deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. In the days proceeding this move, the Pirates made a trade for another Yankees catcher in Francisco Cervelli.
Most people didn’t really know what the Pirates were getting, outside of Cervelli was talented, but could never stay healthy in New York. Francisco Cervelli wasn’t just a solid pickup for the Pirates, he was an incredible one, both offensively and defensively. He was everything the Pirates could have hoped for and more.
Cervelli didn’t have the power of Russell Martin, but what he lacked in home runs, he made up for in overall body of work. He only hit seven home runs, but added 17 doubles and five triples for a .401 slugging percentage. He was also worth 3.1 Wins Above Replacement and appeared in 130 games for the first time in his career, beating his previous career high by 37 games.
Francisco Cervelli’s offense was a huge part of the 2015 Pirates’ success and while his pitch framing and game-calling were very good, his biggest weakness was base stealers against. While he wasn’t terrible by any means, he was following arguably the best shutdown catcher in the game in Russell Martin. By comparison he looked very poor in that regard, but he was far from Rod Barajas.
He was just slightly below league average, which is about where most expected him to fall. However, he did more than enough behind the plate to makeup for the stolen base numbers. Ask any Pirates’ pitcher their thoughts on Cervelli and I imagine you’d get a glowing review as he was undoubtably a huge reason, the Pirates had one of the best pitching staffs in all of Major League Baseball.
When Russell Martin was officially off the table for the Pirates, many fans assumed the Pirates would take a huge step back at the catcher position, but Cervelli made sure that Pirates’ fans could tweet “Russ who?” any time Cervelli got a big hit. It may seem like a small thing, but Russell Martin was a hugely popular player in his time here, and Cervelli almost instantly won the fans over and became just as popular. His energy and enthusiasm for the game was contagious and no player personified the 2015 Pirates more than Cervelli.
You’ve heard our take. Now it’s your turn. Sound off in the comments below, OR let us know on twitter.
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