Home > MLB > 40 Guys in 30 Days: Jarrod Saltalamacchia

40 Guys in 30 Days: Jarrod Saltalamacchia

I mentioned this way back when I did Clay’s post, but there was a time when I wanted to trade Clay Buchholz for Jarrod Saltalamacchia. And you wonder why I hate prospects.

It’s because they make me look dumb.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia
2012 stats: 425 PA, .228/.292/.464
98 OPS+, .322 wOBA; 1.9 fWAR, 1.3 bWAR
2013 contract status: Arbitration (third time; $2.5 million in 2012)

Salty got the most plate appearances he’s ever had in his career in 2012, and responded by having his best offensive season. It’s too bad he still sucked, or else I might overlook the fact that he’s probably the worst defensive catcher in the American League.

You might look at Saltalamacchia’s raw offensive numbers and say that they’re pretty good for a catcher, but really, they’re not. Of the 27 catchers to have 300 PA or more this season, he ranked 16th in wOBA. In that same group, he ranked 22nd in on-base percentage. Turns out that making outs about 70% of the time when you come to the plate is a pretty horrible way to be a good hitter, no matter what you do the other 30% of the time.

Although he has cut down dramatically on the number of passed balls and wild pitches allowed (certainly aided by not catching Tim Wakefield, John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka this year), Salty’s ability to throw out runners is practically nonexistent. After cutting down 31% of opposing base stealers last season, Salty has thrown out just 18% of runners trying to steal this year. The 77 steals against him this season is tops in the American League (and comes despite being sixth in the league in starts), and his 17 caught stealings are one fewer than Bobby Wilson and Jeff Mathis, both of whom have started just 57 games.

Quantifying catcher defense is far from a perfect science, but every piece of data we have, as well as just a simple eye test, suggests that Jarrod Saltalamacchia is a really bad defensive catcher. Couple that with the much harder evidence that shows him to be a mediocre at best hitter for his position, and you have a guy who simply shouldn’t be starting on a team that wants to contend. I’m not saying that Ryan Lavarnway is the answer, but I am saying that Jarrod Saltalamacchia isn’t.

Next time: A guy who sucks, but it’s not like we traded anything good for him. Oh, right.

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