If any position produced an eyebrow raising performance for the Reds in 2010, it was the catching position. Even more astounding may be that the Reds didn’t limit the success to any one of the three catchers implemented this past season.
Reds manager Dusty Baker was able, at a couple of times out of necessity, to use the talents of Ramon Hernandez, Ryan Hanigan and Corky Miller. All three contributed beyond many expectations. When both Hernandez and Hanigan had stints on the disabled list, Corky Miller stepped in and stepped up like the professional he is.
We’ll start with Hernandez. He’s now a free agent, but the talk is that the Reds want him back in Cincinnati in 2011. He helped aid in the development of a young starting staff and was pivotal in that role when Aaron Harang went down. Hernandez knew his experience as a backstop would be tested with all the young hurlers especially with the explosive offense the Reds possess.
Hanigan practically served as the personal valet for 17-game winner Bronson Arroyo. Not a bad gig there. And like Hernandez, his 2010 offerings go well beyond what he did behind the plate.
Miller was a key cog when the aforementioned DL took Hernandez and Hanigan on board. Miller, known for his defense, was also a contributor at the plate. You look at this season numbers and you might not be all that impressed.
Compared to the rest of NL catchers, the Reds trio were excellent at the plate. Only in runs (10th) and HR (11th) were the Reds below the league average. Not bad production at all especially when you consider that Hernandez set career highs in both batting average and on-base percentage. Hanigan far and away exceeded his career high in RBI. In 2009, he had 11 in 90 games. In 2010, 40 in 70 games. They did top all catching combos in batting average with that .296 and ranked second with the 91 RBI. Only Atlanta had more with 98. Not a lot of pop, but driving in 91 runs on only 13 homers is excellent run production.
If you truly expected this type of offensive output from the Reds catchers in 2010, you were possibly labeled as overly optimistic or just plain crazy…or both.
And the gloves and arms were excellent, too. Sometimes, offensive output will detract from the defensive side. Not in the case of the Reds catchers in 2010. Their combined fielding percentage of .994 was slightly above the league average of .993. And the three were above the 29% average of throwing out potential base stealers with a 32%. It wasn’t all offense for these guys.
How could any Reds fan not want to see Hernandez return in 2011 after the clutch season he and Hanigan had at the plate. Knowing that Corky Miller could return makes this position as solid as any for the Reds.
Overall Grade: A