Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Pirates Catcher Signed

The Pittsburgh Pirates landed a new catcher today in former Los Angeles Dodger, Rod Barajas. He signed a one-year contract valued at $4 million with a 2013 team option worth $3.5 million. I have to be honest, he was not on the top of my list, but I certainly prefer him over Ryan Doumit or Chris Snyder.

Over the past three seasons, Barajas had the second worst BB/K rate (0.27) among all the free agent catchers, walk percentage (4.8%), and on base percentage (.275). However, he also had the second highest slugging percentage (.424) and second most home runs (52). He has logged the most innings behind home plate among them all (2483.2) and earned the second best Total Zone score (6) with a respectable .994 fielding percentage to boot.

If you can't make heads or tails out of the jumbled paragraph of facts and statistics, then let me lend you my explanation. Barajas is not a very disciplined hitter. He should not reach base nearly as often as Doumit or even Snyder, but he has the capability to hit the ball over the fence at least a few times every season. His defense and longevity sets himself apart from the rest of the pack.

Top Five Free Agent Catchers in 2011, via FunGraphs
Top Five Free Agent Catchers over 3 Seasons, via FunGraphs

Many other Pirates bloggers and analysts would have preferred Ramon Hernandez, obviously because he was the superior choice out of them all, but would have cost them a draft pick as a Type A free agent. I would have stayed away from Jorge Posada given his age, horrendous performance at the plate, and lack of appearances behind the plate last season, though it would have been quite hilarious if we ended up signing him since it would have been a tale of rags to riches, only reversed, and I do enjoy it when a previously successful Yankee succumbs to poverty. I would have still preferred Kelly Shoppach as my catcher, but he may not have been as affordable.

Barajas must have some pretty reasonable defense and slugging to offset his otherwise poor hitting in order to rank himself so highly in this group, third highest WAR this past season and fifth highest over the last three seasons. His price tag was much more cost effective than Doumit and Snyder's options, so I am pretty satisfied by this decision.

To end this post, I want to share this animated gif of Rod Barajas from earlier this season extracted from Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness. This alone makes me excited to have such a crazy, weird guy on my team.
Rod Barajas treats Dee Gordon like a baby

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