Where’s the D’back advantage?
With almost half, 47 percent, of all games against division opponents this season, it’s vital to know what advantages you have against other teams in the division. For the D’backs, that means comparing themselves against the Dodgers, Padres, Giants and Rockies.
With that in mind, I’ll take a look at all eight fielding spots, the starting rotation, the bullpen and the coaching staff of those teams and rank them over the next month in NL West primers if you will.
This will be the first of eleven such posts as I take a look at catcher.
1. San Francisco Giants
Buster Posey is probably the best catcher in the entire league, so ranking him first in the NL West is easy. Posey won the NL MVP in 2012 with an outstanding season at the plate. He hit .336/.408/.549 in 148 games. Hector Sanchez will serve as Posey’s back up after playing in 74 games for the Giants last season. In fact, Posey’s only weakness as a catcher is that he played 29 games at first and was a DH for three more in 2012, leaving him with 111 games behind the plate, which is a full 30 games behind the second-best catcher in the division…
2. Arizona Diamondbacks
Miguel Montero is as durable as they come after catching 140 and 141 games respectively over the last two seasons for the D’backs. While Montero didn’t quite have the power he showed in 2011, he did greatly improve his OBP, jumping from .351 to .391 in 2012. He added to that with a .286 average and slugging .438. Montero’s best asset is his ability to catch so many games for the D’backs, leading all MLB in games behind the plate in 2012. Montero has also widely been acclaimed for his improvement defensively and his management of the pitching staff.
There is a pretty big drop off between Montero and the rest of the west. But the next best in west has to be A.J. Ellis. Ellis sort of came out of nowhere in 2012 as a 31-year-old journeyman. Previous to 2012, Ellis had accumulated a career WAR of .3. He hadn’t even had more than 128 plate appearances in a season before. Yet in 2012, he caught in 131 games for the Dodgers in 2012 and provided a pretty big boost for the Dodgers. He hit a solid .273 and showed some pop with 13 home runs and 20 doubles, but his biggest asset was his outstanding plate discipline, drawing 65 walks for a .373 OBP. Ellis’ backup will most likely be 25-year-old Tim Federowicz, who has only had 16 at bats in the bigs. He does own a .282/.348/.433 mark in the minors over five seasons.
Wilin Rosario has a decent chance to jump Ellis and the Dodgers into the third spot on this list if he shows his power was legit in 2012. Rosario had 28 home runs in 2012 and hit a solid .270 at the plate. However, he also only had 19 doubles and it’s entirely possible many of those home runs were Coors Field products – 18 came at home. Rosario will be backed up by veteran Ramon Hernandez, who caught 52 games for the Rox last season, hitting .217/.247/.353.
Nick Hundley has been a pretty big disappointment for the Pads and lost his job to John Baker in June of last season. Baker will most likely be the opening day starter for the Friars after hitting .238/.310/.280 in 214 plate appearances last season. In contrast, Hundley hit a horrific .157/.219/.245 in 2012. Needless to say, the Padres catching situation is as bad as it gets in the league.
Keep a an eye on the first base primer that will be out later tonight!