Match-Up: Ryan Doumit vs. Miguel Montero

Who is the fourth best catcher in baseball heading into 2010 (click here to see our initial rankings for 2010)?  Is it Ryan Doumit, who was limited to just 75 games in 2009 due to a wrist injury?  What about Miguel Montero, who seemingly came from nowhere to emerge as one of the better hitting catchers in the game?  Let’s take a look:

Since hitting 10 home runs in 214 at bats in 2007, people have talked about Montero’s power potential, but sharing time with Chris Snyder never allowed him to fully realize it.  Once Snyder went down with an injury, Montero got his opportunity for regular playing time and quickly made the most of it.

His 16 home runs in 425 at bats may not be overly impressive, but it is not only a repeatable number, but one that could grow.  He posted a flyball rate of just 36.4% in 2009, below his career mark of 40.5%.  Over his minor league career, his flyball rate was at 46.1%.

With a home run per flyball rate of 12.7%, it is very maintainable.  So, if he were to simply put a few more balls in the air, more home runs would come with it.

To make things more interesting, Montero turns 27-years old midway through the 2010 season.  He’s entering his prime, so adding even more power is certainly possible.

It’s a potentially perfect storm with Montero, who saw only eight catchers hit more home runs than him in 2009.  With more at bats, it is very possible that Montero increases his total well into the 20s, possibly to 25.

As for Doumit, while he hit 10 home runs in just 280 at bats last season, it’s right around where he has been throughout his career.  His flyball rate was 39.7%, around his career mark of 36.3%.  His HR/FB rate was 10.8%, similar to his career mark of 11.5%.

He is the type of player that he has shown himself to be in the past, a player who, if healthy, can come in to the 15-20 home run range.  The health is the biggest concern, having never played more than 116 games during his major league career.

Advantage: Montero

Batting Average:
A career .273 hitter, Doumit really shined in 2008 when he hit .318.  It came courtesy of a believable .338 batting average and an incredible ability to make consistent contact, striking out just 12.8% of the time.

The strikeout rate is likely not maintainable, as it jumped to 17.5% last season, right along his career mark of 18.8%.  With an increase in strikeouts, the higher average is not likely to continue, but he still should be in the .280-.290 mark.

Montero is a very similar player, striking out 18.4% of the time last season en route to a .294 average.  His BABIP was a believable .329, very similar to the numbers that Doumit posted.

The difference?  With Montero’s ability to hit a few extra home runs, that gives him a slight advantage in the average department as well.

Advantage: Montero

Run Production:
These are both players who are likely to hit in the middle of their respective line-ups.  Montero spent 77 at bats hitting fourth and 174 hitting fifth.  While the Diamondbacks were not the most explosive offense in the league, they also had several players who performed well below average.  If people like Stephen Drew and Chris Young can return to what is expected of them, Montero should easily be given ample opportunity to both drive in and score runs.

The Pirates, meanwhile, were dead last in the league in runs scored in 2009 and it appears unlikely that they suddenly develop into an offense that piles on the runs.  They are young and are going to develop, which should see them take a step forward, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if they are once again in the bottom five in the league.

While Doumit is likely to slot into the middle of the line-up, he’s not going to be surrounded with the type of talent Montero is.

Advantage: Montero

While Doumit is likely to be a great buy low candidate in 2010, it appears that this is a clean sweep.  The two players are actually very close, so while Montero is going to move up on the rankings I wouldn’t recommend reaching to get him.  A player like Doumit, potentially a few rounds later, could be just as valuable.

Obviously, it is too early to see exactly where these two will be falling in drafts, but the next time the catcher rankings come out Doumit will certainly be moved below Montero.

What do you think?  Which catcher has the highest upside for 2010?  Which would you rather own?

To read the previous article, click here.

Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.


  1. Ewan says:

    While I am generally a big fan of what you have to say and usually in agreement, I disagree very strongly with a lot of the points you bring up here.

    You state that his HR/FB% of 12.7 is for real, yet it’s the highest he’s posted at the major league level so far, even more than during his ’07 outburst. According to HitTracker 4 of his 16 HRs (25%) were of the just enough variety, although 3 of the 4 were hit over 390 feet.

    Even if his HR/FB% may be for real, any increase in his FB% will likely lead to a drop in his LD%, which would make his .329 BABIP far from “believable”. He hit 43.9% of his balls in play on the ground last year, and given his awful career speed score of 2.0 (David Ortiz was at 2.1 this year and 3.0 for his career for comparison), he isn’t gonna be beating out many infield hits.

    With his decent contact numbers, a (probably much) lower BABIP will have a larger effect on his AVG than it would for a guy like Adam Dunn who doesn’t put the ball in play that often (Dunn is a good example of a false BABIP, as this year he was at .326, and even that came with a better LD% and GB% than Montero), so the .294 average could easily end up a lot closer to the .255 of 2008.

    He can’t simply increase his FB% and expect to maintain a decent AVG, it’s one or the other, and given his run producing spot in the order he will likely revert to the flyball approach that he has had throughout his career. Also, given the amount of games he caught last year, a slight dropoff in his numbers may be expected due to him being overused. Look at how Russell Martin’s offensive numbers have gone with him being so overworked. An extreme example maybe, but something to think about. He may get more games off with Chris Snyder and his big contract returning, which may help his overall numbers by keeping him fresh but it would reduce his counting stats just through playing fewer games. If Snyder is traded then I guess this point would be moot but he may then be overused again.

    Your other point about Montero having better opportunites is also very questionable. Drew has a career high OBP of .333, Young’s is just .315. Parra doesn’t fair much better at .324, and while Reynolds was decent last year he finished the year hitting 5th and his OBP was mainly built on a crazy BABIP and the amount of HRs he hit which will likely drop next year. Ryan Roberts had a decent OBP last year but he looks to have a pretty lucky BABIP, as he was a flyball hitter, but even a dropoff would see him in the .350 range given his decent BB%. The only other above average OBP guy that will be hitting ahead of Montero is Upton, and even he wasn’t exactly elite at .366, although I do expect that number to go up as he gets pitched around more and learns to lay off bad pitches.

    Now comparing that supporting cast with the Pirates hitters, we get McCutchen with his .365 OBP which could easily go up with more experience, Milledge who’s around league average at .333, Garret Jones at .372 (although probably won’t be as good next year, still above average), and probably Andy Laroche, who while wasn’t great this year at a .330 OBP, with a contact % around 84% should see more luck on batted balls and improve to the .350-.360 region. Oh and did I mention Pedro Alvarez will probably arrive midseason.

    Now onto Doumit, his 2009 numbers are probably a better reflection of the type of hitter he is (i.e. not a great contact hitter but a decent one with a bit of power). His isolated power numbers were actually down last year compared to his career, but I think the wrist injury which he missed about 2 months with would help explain that. A full season from him with a HR/FB% closer to his numbers over the previous 3 years of 12.1% would bump his power back up to where it should be.

    You state health as his biggest concern, but you fail to mention the types of injuries he’s suffered (i.e. freak), and also the fact that he didnt have a starting gig until 2009. He’s had Paulino at C, Nady in RF and Laroche at 1B ahead of him in his career, and it was only in 2008 where he really excelled that he was given a fair chance at being a full timer.

    His batting average last year was quite unlucky, not helped by a .271 BABIP, and while he was very lucky in 2008 with a .338 clip, I think a number somewhere inbetween the 2, around his .307 career mark would be something to expect going forward, so as you said, something in the .280-.290 range would be expected.

    I’ve compared the 2 lineups above, and I think it’s very clear that Doumit will most likely have the more RBI opportunites with better OBP guys ahead of him, and very little competition for the starting C job.

    Given that Montero had the better season of the 2 in 2009, I think he’s most likely be taken ahead of Doumit, yet is more likely to provide lesser value, so I think it would be a much wiser choice to wait a round or 2 and grab Doumit.

  2. Rotoprofessor says:

    Ewan, first of all I appreciate your support here on the site. I also appreciate your response here and I don’t necessarily disagree that Doumit a few rounds later would be a worse pick for the value.

    If Doumit falls much like Posada did in 2009, I’m holding out for him in a heartbeat, because of the value he brings. Additionally, if Montero’s value rises too high due to the season he had (similar to the Matt Wieters hype-a-thon from ’09), I’m not going to touch him. Catcher is a fickle position where there is always a risk of a player getting hurt. Just about every fantasy roster felt that in 2009, at least so it seemed.

    Still, in a vacuum, I would bet on Montero producing slightly better numbers than Doumit in 2010. No, I don’t think there’s a great discrepancy, maybe a handful of HR and a few RBI. They are very equal players, however, so which one I draft is going to be very dependent on where they are typically falling on draft day.

  3. MJ says:

    I don’t think there is any question that Montero is the better player now and in the future. He was highly thought of coming up but injury and opportunity failed him. With an everyday job I think Montero will be as good if not better then McCann. I do not see Doumitt sticking behind the plate much longer as I believe the Pirates will move him somewhere else. Montero on the other hand is the Dback catcher of the future. That alone makes Montero far more valuable to me. Doumitt is a great fantasy back-up, but Montero will be a great fantasy starter.

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