Throw It Like a Ballplayer

providing baseball commentary and ponderings since April 2010

Geovany Soto’s great 2010

Posted by dannmckeegan on September 10, 2010

Over at FanGraphs, Jack Moore just yesterday published an article describing the very, very goodness of Geo Soto’s 2010 after a poor 2009 showing. He claims that Soto could be even better had Lou handled him better. I commented over there last night, but I had a few more thoughts that are more reliant on the numbers comparing him to Mauer and Buster Posey.  Here goes:

Posey: .324/.369/.498; .344 babip; 11 HR, 20 2B; 5.9% BB, 13.1% K; .372 wOBA; 3.81 pit/PA; 9 GIDP
Soto: .285/.401/.519; .322 babip; 17 HR, 18 2B; 16.5% BB, 24.7% K; .395 wOBA; 4.06 pit/PA; 5 GIDP
Mauer: .325/.403/.469; .348 babip*; 8 HR, 41 2B; 11.5% BB, 10.9% K; .374 wOBA (*-career rate is .344); 3.90 pit/PA; 19 GIDP

adjusting BB% for intentional walks (subtracted from total PA as well):
Posey – 5.1%
Soto – 15.6%
Mauer – 9.3%

Both Mauer and Soto have that 24.5% LD rate, but Soto’s GB% is a full 10 points below Mauer’s. Posey, meanwhile, has “just” a 20.6% LD rate, but like Mauer skews toward groundballs (47.7%) quite heavily over putting the ball in the air (31.7%).

Soto doesn’t swing; Mauer doesn’t swing and miss. Posey comparatively does both quite a bit. Posada, Posey, Soto and McCann are actually right next to each other in the swing-and-miss category, rate-wise. Soto’s contact rate overall is, unsurprisingly, near the bottom. He’s there with Napoli, Olivo, Buck and Snyder: other more-or-less power hitters.

As far as what kind of pitches they like to see, Soto has more than doubled second place in wFB/C, 3.11 to 1.47 over McCann. Mauer and Posey are 1.21 and 1.09 wFB/C, respectively. Posey is by far the best change-up and curveball hitter among catchers, at least so far as the sum total of skill and luck over 2010 is concerned. Soto’s seeing 11% fewer fastballs than Mauer, with a steady diet of sliders headed toward the Cub catcher. At 62%, Mauer sees more FB than any catcher other than Jason Kendall (who at over 70% FB seen is just really, really sad).

Geo’s is probably the most impressive statline of the season. Posey’s success as a rookie is really great, too. But Soto’s rebound from a bad 2009 and continued improvement of a number of skills (pitch recognition, plate discipline) that likely contribute to improved results (more line drives, fewer grounders) is important to help us gauge his future as a 3-year vet in his age 27 year. Mauer is a 6-year vet at 27, while Posey is a 23-year-old rookie. Three players in different stages of their careers all proving themselves top-level performers at their position.

For the record, Koyie Hill has 186 plate appearances and 439.1 innings played as a catcher in 2010.  He has 11 extra-base hits and a .543 OPS.  That’s lower than the OPS’s of Yovani Gallardo, Dan Haren, Mike Leake, Chris Narveson, Wade LeBlanc and Craig Stammen, starting pitchers with at least 40 PA in 2010.  His .236 wOBA is 560th among all people with at least 1 MLB plate appearance in 2010.  His -0.7 WAR in 2010 projects to a -1.9 WAR over 500 PA.  Meanwhile, Welington Castillo finished 4th among PCL catchers with 13 HR (4.8% of PA) and Robinson Chirinos added 3 HR in Triple A to the 15 he put up with the Double A Smokies, with whom he’s spent most of the year.  Yeesh.

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