Pittsburgh Pirates: 2016 Position Recap The Catcher

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Pirates fielded a lot of different players and different positions this past season.  So let us analyze and recap what each position saw in 2016.  Catcher might have been the position that saw the most change throughout the season.

The Pittsburgh Pirates seemed to be locked and ready to go at the catching position entering 2016.  The had Francisco Cervelli coming off a fantastic year and they had just extended Chris Stewart in the off-season.  Waiting in the wings behind those two were top ten catching prospect Elias Diaz in Triple-A.  However, the catching position ended up being one of the most inconsistent spots in the Pittsburgh Pirates batting order.  The Bucs saw six different players squat behind the plate this past season, mostly due to injury.

Francisco Cervelli

Starting off is Francisco Cervelli.  Cervelli was coming off a career year in 2015 and entering the final season before he free agency.  In 2015 the Venezuelan catcher hit .295 with a fantastic on-base percentage of .370 in a career high 130 games.  He was also was quite good defensively as he ranked as the number one catcher in pitch framing.  Expectations were high for the Bucs catcher entering 2016.  However, it did not come to fruition.  After signing a three-year contract extension in May, many were excited to have their future catcher locked up knowing he would be back.  However, Cervelli only appeared in 101 games, but it seemed like it should have been less.  He found himself on the disabled list for nearly a month from early June into July.

Cervelli Injuries

Francisco Cervelli had to get surgery for an injured hamate bone in his wrist.  This was the most significant injury throughout the season.  However, he did find himself nicked up and missing numerous games at a time in August and September.  Because of this, Francisco had a hard time finding any consistency.

At the plate Cervelli hit .264 with a low OPS of .699 and only one home-run.  However, like he has always done he got on base at a significantly high clip of .377.  Cervelli fell off defensively somewhat also.  He threw out only 19 percent of batters, which is under his career rate.  He also fell to number six in pitching framing, however that is still very solid.  Although Cervelli was hurt and inconsistent all season he still found himself post a 1.6 WAR.  If Cervelli can stay healthy for 2017 expect a little bit of a bounce back year for the catcher.

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Chris Stewart

The other catcher to focus on here is Chris Stewart.  Stewart really struggled this season and it was 100% because of injuries.  He only appeared in 34 games this past season.  This was quite disappointing for the Pittsburgh Pirates especially after extending him last off-season for two years with a third option season. Stewart hurt his left foot in June due to collision at the plate.  He officially was put on the DL in July.  He eventually came back on September 2nd only to be sent back on the DL on the 13th.

The Pittsburgh Pirates then announced that he would be done for the rest of the season with knee surgery.  On the year Stewart struggled, most likely because he was playing injured.  He hit .214 batting average, a .319 OBP, and a .286 slugging percentage.  Hopefully injuries do not continue to plague the current 34-year-old, or he could be looking at a long 2017.

Other Catchers

The Pittsburgh Pirates also gave time to many other catchers this past season.  They used veteran Erik Kratz for 18 games.  They eventually moved on from him when they picked up Eric Fryer.  Fryer appeared in 36 games, essentially replacing Stewart as the team’s bench catcher.  Elias Diaz was originally planned to be the first catcher up, but he missed significant time this season when he had to receive elbow surgery.  He came back toward the end of July, but received most of his at-bats in Triple-A, as he needed to get back into game shape.  The other catcher was organizational prospect Jacob Stallings who received 15 at-bats with the Bucs.

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For 2017

The Pittsburgh Pirates most likely will cut Fryer this off-season.  Stallings was already DFA’d once this season and chances are he will be again this off-season.  However, he most likely will not be claimed by another team. The Pittsburgh Pirate should have plenty of catching options heading into 2017 in Cervelli, Stewart, Diaz, and Stallings.  The key to their catching depth will be if they can stay healthy or not, if so they should be in a good spot.