Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Cleveland's catching choice

Going, going, gone: Roberto Perez hits the first of his two
home runs Tuesday night in Game One of the World Series.

The Cleveland Indians, it's safe to say, didn't get much offense out of its catchers this year. Yan Gomes, who was the No. 1 guy before his July knee injury (suffered against the Twins), hit .167. Roberto Perez and Chris Gimenez, who shared the chores after Gomes went down, hit .183 and .216 respectively.

Cleveland tried to trade for Jonathan Lucroy at the deadline, but he exercised his no-trade clause and wound up dealt to Texas. And the Tribe's apparent need for a backstop had a good piece of the Twins blogosphere expecting them to deal for Kurt Suzuki.

Which, clearly, did not happen. Nobody traded for Suzuki. He spent the season in Minnesota, where he finished the season with a .258 batting average, which turns out to be the highest batting average of AL catchers with at least 300 plate appearances.

I doubt Cleveland regrets not going for the better bat, and not merely because Perez (three homers in the regular season) hit two longballs Tuesday in the first game of the World Series. Perez has been a hidden factor in the Indians' imposing postseason pitching performance, a quiet receiver who isn't taking away strikes from his hurlers.

Suzuki, according to Baseball Reference, compiled 0.4 WAR. Perez, in about half the playing time and about half the offense, is credited with 0.5. I won't guarantee that anybody's version of WAR had defense perfectly measured, and particularly that of catchers, but that feels about right to me.

Bottom line: Cleveland, with Derek Falvey presumably involved in the evaluation, prefered the no-hit Perez to Suzuki. Meanwhile, the Twins sacrificed defense behind the plate for better production at it, not only with Suzuki but with backup catcher Juan Centeno. It's certainly possible that this will be a point of disagreement between Falvey and manager Paul Molitor when Falvey starts with the Twins.

No comments:

Post a Comment