Aug 22, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Sam LeCure (63) is congratulated by catcher Devin Mesoraco (39) after the Reds beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 2-1 at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Case For/Case Against: Devin Mesoraco Is #1 Catcher

Devin Mesoraco will become the #1 catcher for the Cincinnati Reds

Case For: 

Devin Mesoraco, the #1 catching prospect for the Cincinnati Reds, proved himself this season. After Ryan Hannigan went down early into the season, Mesoraco stepped up big time. As a starter, he gelled very well with the pitching staff, helping Mat Latos develop into an ace and Homer Bailey take the next step. Bryan Price and the entire pitching staff felt comfortable with Mesoraco calling the games.

While playing in 97 games, he only had 5 errors. In 2012 he had 1. That’s only 4 more errors while playing in 44 more games. Breaking it down into innings: he caught 782 as opposed to only 420.2 in 2012. That is 362.2 more innings caught, which means 362.2 innings worth of chances for errors.

Offensively speaking, Mesoraco stepped up to the plate. (These things write themselves.) His .238 batting average may not be mind-blowing, but it is .26 points higher than the previous season. He has more 42 more hits than the previous season and while his 9 home-runs won’t win any awards, it’s a steady improvement.

His total bases (singles + 2x doubles + 3x triples + 4x home runs) for the 2013 season was 117, which is 59 bases higher than in 2012. Mesoraco’s RBI tallies for the last season, 42, is 28 runs higher than the previous season, which stood at 14.

Case Against:

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

 While his numbers have improved, it isn’t at the appropriate rate. Allow me to analyze his statistics, but with context.

His .238 average is higher than the previous season. But that doesn’t make it particularly good. In the 2012 season, Mesoraco had 158 more AB than previous season, (165 in 2012, 323 in 2013), and his batting average only increased .26 points.

As for his home runs, (5 in 2012, 9 in 2013), there may be an increase but he had 158 more chances. Only 4 more home runs? Doesn’t cut it. His strike out totals nearly doubled as well, going from 33 in 2012 to 61 in 2013. Devin’s on-base percentage, while playing in 49 more games, decreased .1 %. (.288 in 2012, .287 in 2013)

While having 158 more at bats from 2012 to 2013, Mesoraco only had 42 more hits, (35 in 2012, 77 in 2013). His runs only increased from 17 to 31, as well.

The Bottom Line:

Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Okay, I went on the extreme for both cases. Ironically, I’m not a huge stats guy when it comes to baseball. No, really. I think they’re certainly important but way overused by managers. Sometimes, your lefty who can’t hit a righty just has to face him anyway.

It’s never as good, or as bad, as it seems. When it comes to Devin Mesoraco, such is the case. There are good things to look for in his statistics, like the fact he’s only committed 4 more errors in 362.2 more innings caught. And there are bad things, like the fact that he’s only had 42 more hits in 158 more at-bats.

We need to go beyond the statistics to make a verdict. We need some commentary.

Mesoraco is making strides on the baseball field. His defensive skills alone are worth having him in the clubhouse. To have such a young catcher gel so well with such a talented pitching staff is an incredible gift. Sometimes his batting average gets in the way of that treasure.

He’s probably never going to become a Yadier Molina. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: nobody is. And it’s not fair to hold Mesoraco up to those kinds of expectations. The Reds don’t need a Molina-esque player out of Mesoraco to succeed, and Mesoraco doesn’t need to be a Molina-esque player to be successful.

While his offensive production may not be at the level of Cincinnati catching, it is seeing improvement. Devin stepped up a few times this season, hitting some big home runs in some clutch situations. Minor leaguers don’t do that. Professionals do. So while, no, he’s not there yet, he will be. Devin Mesoraco will be the number #1 catcher for the Cincinnati Reds.

 

All statistics thanks to baseball-reference.com

Tags: Cincinnati Reds

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