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December 22 2006

Rod Barajas isn't a good offensive player.  Among MLB players who got at least 300 plate appearances while playing catcher last season, his OPS was 20th of 26.  His on-base percentage was 24th of 26.  The '06 Phillies didn't have a catcher who got 300 plate appearances, but of the group of Lieberthal, Fasano, Ruiz and Coste, the only one that Barajas outhit was Fasano.

 

Player AB AVG OBP SLG OPS
Barajas 344 256 298 410 708
Lieberthal 209 273 316 469 784
Coste 198 328 376 505 881
Fasano 140 243 284 386 669
Ruiz 69 261 316 435 751

It should be noted that Ruiz got just 69 at-bats, but he, Coste and Lieberthal were all better offensively.  Each hit for a higher average, got on base more and even had a better slugging percentage than the basher Barajas.

As a group, Phillies catchers were good last season.  Their .793 OPS was fifth-best in the National League.  For the Rangers, virtually all of the at-bats from the catcher position went to Barajas and Gerald Laird.  Laird was better offensively in his 243 at-bats than Barajas, hitting 296/332/443.  Even with the significant contribution from the better-hitting Laird, as a group Texas' catchers still underperformed Phillies' catchers.  They posted a .753 OPS, which was seventh-best in the AL.

Assuming that Barajas gets a significant number of at-bats as a catcher for the Phillies in '07, the team seems sure to produce less offensively from the position unless he contributes much more with the bat than he did last season.

One of the things that's odd about Barajas as an offensive player is his numbers against left-handed pitching.  He's had six seasons in which he's gotten more than 100 at-bats, and in three of them the righty has been better against right-handed pitching than left.  In the three years he's gotten the most at-bats, the last three, he has been better against righties in two of the three years.  Last year he was genuinely awful against lefties:

 

Year VS AVG OBP SLG OPS
2006 LHP 156 217 359 577
  RHP 279 317 421 738
           
2005 LHP 272 309 489 798
  RHP 248 305 459 764
           
2004 LHP 248 284 436 720
  RHP 249 272 459 731
           
2003 LHP 244 326 415 741
  RHP 212 250 307 557
           
2002 LHP 196 276 275 550
  RHP 252 295 398 693
           
2001 LHP 214 241 321 563
  RHP 141 173 256 429
           

The Royals signed David Riske.

The Brewers have made a four-year offer to Jeff Suppan.  Suppan is one of a dwindling group of still-available starting pitchers that includes Lieber.

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