Angel catchers provide league average offense

Jason Miller

Part 1 of our series looking at the offensive output of each position, starting with the two guys behind the plate.

This is the first of a nine-part series looking at the Angels 2013 season. This series looks at the Angels' offense position-by-position, compared to each of the other 14 teams within the American League. For the fourth straight year, the Halos failed to reach the playoffs. The 2013 Angels had the lowest win total in nine years, finishing 18 games behind the division winning Oakland A's. However, the failure of the 2013 Angels wasn't due to the club's hitting; it wasn't because they couldn't execute a "batter's box" offense, or they forgot how to play "little ball", nor under-performing high-priced free agents. The reason they are not playing meaningful games in October is due to its pitching and defense. So, why am spending time breaking down the one thing that's not broken? We gotta start somewhere.

For the first time since the 1984 season, the Angels started just two catchers for the entire season. Twenty-nine years ago, Bob Boone (133 games) and Jerry Narron (29 games) caught each game for the Halos, not matched until this season by Chris Iannetta and Hank Conger (Note: John Hester caught 1 inning in one game after pinch-hitting in the 8th inning).


G

PA

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

CS

BB

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

Chris Iannetta

108

390

318

39

72

15

0

10

38

0

1

66

96

.226

.359

.368

.727

Hank Conger

64

225

206

22

52

13

1

6

17

0

1

15

54

.252

.311

.413

.724

Team Total


615

524

61

124

28

1

16

55

0

2

81

150

.237

.341

.385

.727

According to Baseball-Reference, Iannetta's oWAR of 2.6 was the third highest on the team, while his dWAR (defensive WAR) of 0.1 was at least a positive for the season. Conger on the other hand had the highest dWAR (0.6) of any Angel while playing roughly high of a season. When querying FanGraphs' WAR data, the duo had the Angels' highest combined catcher's WAR since 1997 with a total of 3.1 (Iannetta = 2.1, Conger = 1.0).

When comparing the Angels' catchers to the rest of the league, the pair falls right around league average, with Iannetta providing the higher OBP, while Conger has the better SLG.

Catchers

PA

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

CS

BB

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

Baltimore

650

589

63

137

32

0

23

84

2

1

47

123

.233

.284

.404

.688

Boston

652

589

87

159

51

0

19

89

5

1

55

192

.270

.334

.453

.787

Chicago

590

550

48

108

23

0

16

58

2

1

26

162

.196

.238

.325

.564

Cleveland

655

568

79

154

41

2

22

74

3

1

70

120

.271

.357

.467

.824

Detroit

650

580

67

152

27

1

16

73

0

2

54

138

.262

.326

.395

.721

Houston

667

596

78

153

38

1

23

68

2

1

55

172

.257

.326

.440

.766

Kansas City

660

607

64

164

32

3

18

87

2

0

42

107

.270

.321

.422

.743

Los Angeles

615

524

61

124

28

1

16

55

0

2

81

150

.237

.341

.385

.727

Minnesota

707

620

81

187

41

1

22

76

1

2

82

140

.302

.382

.477

.860

New York

566

497

57

106

18

0

8

43

5

0

47

101

.213

.289

.298

.587

Oakland

636

552

81

147

34

1

14

63

6

2

69

125

.266

.351

.408

.759

Seattle

627

563

54

110

16

1

16

53

1

1

49

153

.195

.266

.313

.579

Tampa Bay

609

546

64

134

29

2

9

49

2

2

51

123

.245

.310

.355

.665

Texas

665

618

65

160

31

1

23

85

2

3

32

130

.259

.301

.424

.725

Toronto

636

598

57

116

24

1

22

61

0

2

30

169

.194

.235

.348

.583


















A.L. Average

639

573

67

141

31

1

18

68

2

1

53

140

.246

.312

.396

.708

I'm not nearly smart enough to go into any sort of advanced defensive metric analysis, but after a quick look at some basic numbers, the pair were tied with three other teams with the second highest errors (12, Iannetta = 7, Conger = 5), while also having the second worst caught stealing percentage (21%, league average = 26%), allowing the highest total of steals of second base in the A.L. Iannetta was the worse of the two, throwing out 19% of those runners attempting to steal. However, that 19% mark is the worst as a starter in Iannetta's career, so it might be safe to assume some of those stolen bases in 2013 were not entirely his fault. Catching the ball was somewhat of a good-news/bad-news situation, as "Congannetta" had the second-lowest number of passed balls, but had the most wild pitches thrown by them.

When comparing the Angels catchers to the rest of the league, the two are pretty much league-average. Iannetta will be entering his 31 year-old season in 2014, and is signed through the 2015 season. Although he caught the most games of his career last season, we can probably expect to see less of Iannetta in the line-up next year as Conger continues to improve with the bat and gain more notice for his defense. Conger will be 26 years-old next year and won't be eligible for free agency until 2018.

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