On-Base Perception

Newsday's new all-encompassing baseball blog on the Yankees, Mets, MLB and more from around the sport.

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Yankees catchers lacking punch this season

Yankees catcher Chris Stewart on picture day during

Yankees catcher Chris Stewart on picture day during spring training at George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla. (Feb. 20, 2013). (Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.)

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:

YEAR AVG OBP SLG OPS HR RBI
2012 .220 .308 .387 .695 22 64
2011 .241 .321 .398 .719 22 89
2010 .264 .364 .409 .773 13 80
2009 .269 .330 .438 .767 22 98
2008 .230 .290 .335 .625 8 45
2007 .323 .396 .502 .898 19 100
2006 .261 .355 .459 .813 25 105
2005 .239 .317 .393 .711 24 79
2004 .267 .378 .474 .852 26 95
2003 .277 .386 .509 .895 34 112
2002 .270 .363 .457 .820 20 108
2001 .265 .340 .435 .775 22 99
2000 .276 .395 .498 .893 29 89
1999 .246 .322 .393 .714 14 83
1998 .271 .335 .438 .773 19 88
1997 .258 .326 .357 .682 7 75
1996 .289 .349 .380 .729 7 70
1995 .280 .374 .476 .850 22 103

 

World Series winners' catchers stats during the regular season since 1995:

YEAR WINNER AVG OBP SLG OPS HR RBI
2012 Giants .309 .365 .487 .852 23 114
2011 Cardinals .294 .341 .444 .785 15 78
2010 Giants .274 .333 .430 .764 21 76
2009 Yankees .269 .330 .438 .767 22 98
2008 Phillies .243 .327 .367 .694 14 68
2007 Red Sox .238 .343 .399 .742 22 85
2006 Cardinals .221 .277 .328 .605 10 78
2005 White Sox .255 .304 .413 .717 22 67
2004 Red Sox .293 .386 .497 .883 27 102
2003 Marlins .286 .357 .451 .808 19 94
2002 Angels .243 .275 .308 .583 5 60
2001 Diamondbacks .239 .300 .374 .674 17 58
2000 Yankees .276 .395 .498 .893 29 89
1999 Yankees .246 .322 .393 .714 14 83
1998 Yankees .271 .335 .438 .773 19 88
1997 Marlins .263 .365 .454 .819 21 84
1996 Yankees .289 .349 .380 .729 7 70
1995 Braves .287 .347 .473 .821 24 77

Tags: Yankees , francisco cervelli , austin romine , chris stewart , jorge posada , obp

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