Home > MLB > 40 Guys in 30 Days: Ryan Lavarnway

40 Guys in 30 Days: Ryan Lavarnway

Ryan Lavarnway is yet another case study in why I hate prospects. Remember when he was untouchable? In a few years, we’ll just be saying “Hey, remember Ryan Lavarnway?” the same way we say “Hey, remember Lars Anderson?” or “Hey, remember Craig Hansen?”

Ryan Lavarnway
2012 stats: MLB: 97 PA, .159/.227/.239
21 OPS+, .211 wOBA; -0.8 fWAR, -1 bWAR
AAA: 367 PA, .295/.376/.439
2013 contract status: Not yet eligible for arbitration

I don’t think that Lavarnway is actually a true-talent 21 OPS+ hitter, but he certainly hasn’t done anything to encourage fans who were hoping for him to take over full-time catching duties in 2013. The precipitous drop in his minor league numbers is disheartening as well, although it shouldn’t be surprising; after spending nearly as much time at DH as he did behind the plate earlier in his career, Lavarnway caught 80 of the 83 games in which he played this year, and saw his OPS plummet as a result.

Still, even if he can only get back up near the .815 OPS he had at AAA this year instead of the levels he had reached before that, Lavarnway would be a fine hitter as a catcher. And by all accounts, he’s greatly improved his defense, as well; of course, that improvement only means that people are saying “Well, I guess he has a chance to be a catcher” instead of laughing at you for suggesting it, but, you know, progress.

If the Red Sox are smart, they’ll see what they can get for Lavarnway in trade this winter; if there are still teams out there that see him as more than the homeless man’s Mike Napoli, let them deal with him and go sign the real thing. In the likely event that his value has cratered, though, it would be best for the Sox to just carry him on the big league roster and see if he develops; maybe platooning with Salty will breathe some life back into his bat, while also masking his defensive inadequacies.

Next time: The one guy that the media will probably never call a “clubhouse cancer.”

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