Sal and catching pals hurting morale
July 12 2006
I thought the addition of
Sal Fasano to the Phillies before the start of the season was a nice move.
Fasano was coming off the best year of his career in which, in very limited
at-bats, he hit lefties really hard. He seemed like a nice choice as a
backup and a guy that could maybe start against some lefties. It was all
well and good until he turned into the Phillies everyday catcher, a role
that he's about as well-suited for as that of Slim-fast spokesperson
(personal note to the Slim-fast folks: Sal's a good guy and if you
make him your spokesperson I will personally buy not one but two cases in
support of your decision). Even in 2005, the best year of his
career, he posted a 229/283/373 line against righties.
Forced into the role of an everyday player, he has again been unable to hit right handers, hitting just .234 against righties in '06 with a .255 on-base percentage. In the division, only the Nationals are getting less offense from the catcher they're using most often, and Brian Schneider brings defense that's far superior to that of Fasano's.
The Phillies went into the season with a platoon situation at catcher that was not based on the handedness of the opposing starting pitcher but who was the Phillies starting pitcher. Maybe it helped them in some way. Maybe some of the pitchers throw better to Fasano than to Lieberthal. I don't know. I hope someone knows, though, and I hope they know how much, and I hope the answer is a lot, because it hurt their offense -- Fasano is a bad offensive player against righties. He's going to be 35 next month and it's pretty safe to say he's always going to be a bad offensive player against righties. I think if the Phillies used him against lefties he could be a good offensive player and still provide the needed rest for Lieberthal or whoever got the duty against righties.
The Phillies should fix it. It looks like there's enough data on Fasano to know that you should only play him against lefties. Against righties, the other choices may be bad as well, but I think they'll bring you better defense and at least the same level of offensive production. Plus you get to rest Fasano until he gets to hit against a lefty, where he can be better than okay.
The Phillies have used four catchers this season and three of them have on based less than .300 against right-handed pitching. The number of at-bats are very small, but Coste is at .343, Lieberthal .282 and Ruiz .273.
Here's how some of the NL East catchers have fared offensively, based on their runs created per 27 outs:
Finally, I combined the results from all the positions into the table below. For a whole lot of reasons, it's more useful as a way to compare strengths and weaknesses of a team, not overall offenses. The simplest way to compare total offenses is by how many runs they've scored -- the teams haven't all played the same number of games, but that list goes (1) Mets (2) Braves (3) Phillies (4) Marlins (5) Nationals at the break.