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.
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.
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.
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.