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Yankees catchers lacking punch this season
Russell Martin and his 21 home runs from 2012 are gone. In his stead, the Yankees have three unproven commodities: two lifetime backup catchers and a prospect coming off a back injury.
Combined, the trio of Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart and Austin Romine have a career batting average of .246, on-base percentage of .312 and an on-base plus slugging percentage of .640. Given 600 plate appearances, they project to average six home runs and 60 RBIs.
Not exactly significant offensive threats at the plate — a luxury the Yankees have enjoyed ever since Jorge Posada became the everyday catcher in 1998.
Martin’s power the last two seasons — 39 homers, .723 OPS — helped mask the loss of Posada at the plate.
Posada spoiled Yankees fans. A career .848 OPS and a 24-homer season average will do that.
Not since 2008 have the Yankees had this low an OPS among its catchers. With Posada limited to 51 games because of injury, he, Jose Molina, Chad Moeller and Ivan Rodriguez posted a .625 OPS.
That was the only season since 1995 where Yankees catchers were below .682 OPS, and just one of three occasions when their OPS fell below .700.
That was the only season since 1995 where the Yankees missed the playoffs.
Having an underwhelming offensive catcher doesn’t necessarily spell doom for the Yankees in 2013.
Historically, not all hope is lost if Cervelli, Stewart and Romine do live down to their career .640 OPS.
Two of the past 11 World Series winners have carried a catching group that’s posted less than a .640 OPS. The 2002 Angels (.582), fronted primarily by Bengie Molina (.245 average, 5 HR), overcame the Giants in an epic seven-game series. The 2006 Cardinals (.605), relying on a young Yadier Molina (.216, 6), beat the Tigers in five games.
And this is assuming that Romine can’t adequately hit in the majors, something talent evaluators don’t see as likely.
The “2012 Minor League Baseball Analyst” pegged Romine’s potential as a starting catcher before last season, calling him “an athletic backstop” who “makes contact with short, simple stroke” and “should hit for nice BA.”
Yankees catchers season numbers since 1995:
World Series winners' catchers stats during the regular season since 1995: