Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Looking Ahead to 2013 - Cervelli and Stewart
Although it looks like Francisco Cervelli is the likely starting catcher heading into the season, I figured I’d run both he and Chris Stewart through the projection gauntlet. I’m not going to go over their 2012 since neither played that much.
First up, here are Cervelli’s 2013 projections.
The bar for being above replacement level offensively for a catcher is low. Cervelli projects to clear that bar, although not by a ton. If he gets 450 PA his average projection puts him around 10 BRAR.
Stewart actually doesn’t project much differently than Cervelli, which surprised me.
The difference between them over the same # of PA doesn’t appear to be worth more than a run.
So the question becomes defense. Cervelli had a pretty good defensive season as he threw out 10 of 23 base runners attempting to steal (43.5%) and was worth 4 runs above average in just 241 innings according to DRS. Since then he’s only thrown out 13 of 92 runs (14.1%) and has been 4 runs below average in about 1040 innings. DRS doesn’t consider pitch framing, although Mike Fast’s data on Cervelli shows him as around -4 over 141 games.
On the other hand, Stewart has had very good DRS numbers over the last two years. He was +12 in 460 innings in 2011 and +4 in 395 innings last year. According to the data from Mike Fast’s study linked above shows Stewart as being worth another 10 runs over 93 games.
Obviously we have a bit less certainty about quantifying a catcher’s defense than we do about their offense. Cervelli’s looked very good so far in spring training, which I do think has value from a scouting perspective. I also think he is a better bet to at least provide some OBP at the bottom of the lineup than Stewart will. But at least according to the offensive projections and defensive numbers Stewart’s probably the better choice for starting catcher. If we assumed 450 PA of each, figure something like:
Cervelli: 11 BRAR, -6 defense, 0.5 WAR
Stewart: 9 BRAR, + 10 defense, 1.9 WAR
If Cervelli’s fixed his throwing issues and Stewart’s defense isn’t really quite that good then maybe it’s closer to even.
Because of the Yankees’ relative weakness all over the field this year, a lot of attention has been focused on catcher. The days of getting 4-5 wins from Jorge Posada or 2-3 wins from Russell Martin appear to be gone, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think they can get a 1 - 1.5 wins out of some combination of Cervelli and Stewart. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be enough for a team that’s looking like a mid 80s win team right now.
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