Position Review: Monie, Hani and Mes

You would think the comparisons of 2011 to 2010 would have ceased by now, right? Well, you can’t really talk about any facet of the Reds 2011 season without referencing 2010. One position that exemplifies the differences (offensively anyway) is that of catcher.

It’s not the catcher were god awful in 2011. It’s only that we were spoiled by their 2010 performances. While 2011 was still a good season, only a fool would think the tandem of Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan could duplicate the seasons they posted from 2010. While there was a slide in the offense, there wasn’t as much of one in their defense.

Here’s the look…

I added the 2010 stats just so we can all see how this one position was so pertinent to the 2010 success. But this could be the end of the road as a Red for Hernandez. Reds fans were treated to the eagerly anticipated MLB debut of Devin Mesoraco. With Hernandez a free agent, the odds of Monie’s return as etremely up in the air. I’ve heard and read a tidbit here and there that the Reds should bring him back. More on that in a bit…

But if you compare the offensive seasons of 2010 and 2011, the more notable differences hit Hanigan. While Hani does not possess the pop Hernandez does, he is viewed as being more skilled with the bat in his hands. It’s a perfect mesh of Hernandez and Hanigan.

But quickly view up to the table at the season totals. The slash line decrease was as follows: -.030/-.037/-.034. That’s over 10% from 2010. The other drop occurs with RBI, a fall off of 22 (24%). While Hernandez did suffer an offensive decrease, more could be attibuted to Hanigan. But there could be a reason.

Hanigan played in 21 more games than he did in 2010. Yes, he was on the DL for a portion of 2010 as well, but catching can and will take a physical toll. Those extra games may have worn him down a bit as the 91 games (and 161.2 innings of play) represents the most he’s played in a season since being a member of 25-man roster.

An eye-opening analysis occurs when you view what pitches are more effective against any batter. Hernandez (wFB of 8.9) is more effective against fastballs than Hanigan (-1.3). But it is also worth noting that both Monie (58.4% to 53.6%) and Hanigan (64.7% to 63.9%) saw less fastballs in 2011 than in 2010. Considering that Hanigan is more effective against breaking balls, the decrease in fastballs seen is confusing. If he has issues with a fastball and displays a higher success rate against breaking balls, why throw him less fastballs? A glaring example is that of the changeup where Hanigan was a -1.7 wCH in 2010 to a 2.3 wCH in 2011.

We all know catching involves more than offense. This duo performed at a better level than in 2010. Yes, defensive stats aren’t as defined as offensive numbers, but these numbers are starting to slowly become a little more refined. Still, they aren’t up to the level we would like them to be.

But should that really matter? There are four areas I look at here: errors, caught stealing, passed balls and wild pitches.

Note here. All of Hanigan’s errors in 2010 were of the throwing variety. For 2011, one of the four was a fielding error. With Hernandez, all of his errors in both seasons were throwing errors. The number of wild pitches increased with Hanigan behind the plate. Again, we’re getting into a bit of a grey area due to the increased workload. His overall fielding percentage and his success rate of throwing out base runners is also worth noting. And the same can be said with Hernandez, too.

The defense was better in 2011 than the days of yore in 2010…and they match up well against the guy that’s considered the gold standard in catchers: Reds fans favorite, St. Louis Cardinals Yadier Molina. For 2011, Molina allowed six passed balls (compared to 5 for the Reds duo) and threw out 29% (19 of 65) of would-be base stealers (36% for the Reds combo on 41 of 114). Yes, opponents aren’t as likely to run on Molina as they are the majority of other catchers in the game, if any, especially when you look at Molina’s 2010 success rate (49% on 33 of 68). Molina’s five errors were equal to the Reds combo, too.

After all of this, back to Hernanadez. With Mesoraco basically having not a thing left to prove at the minor league level, you have to believe that Monie’s days donning a Reds uniform are over. While Hernandez has endeared himself to the fanbase, we all must be realists. The Reds are not apt to sign him to another one-year deal not only because of Mesoraco’s big-league readiness, but also due to the deal Hanigan was granted prior to the beginning of 2011.

Grade: B. Last year, the Reds catchers received an “A” due mostly to their surprising offensive impact. While I knew they were not going to maintain that pace (although I wished that on a daily basis), the falloff was a little more than I had thought. The slight increase in defense was encouraging though.

To read any of the prior reviews, click on the position within the grade card.

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