2010 Projection: Ryan Doumit

Ryan Doumit’s battled a slew of injuries since he began his professional career with the Pirates as a second round pick in 1999. He was mentioned in each of Baseball America’s first prospect handbooks until he lost prospect eligibility in 2005.

In 2008 Doumit put it all together and appeared in a career high 116 games and registered 465 at-bats for the Pirates. He’s appeared exclusively as a catcher for the Bucs’ since 2008 began after spending some time at first base and the outfield.

Healthy and playing regularly in 2008 Doumit turned in one of the leagues finer lines from the catcher position. He hit .318/.357/.501 which is good for a .367 wOBA and a nifty 4.0 WAR score.

Encouraged by the results the Pirates locked up the 28 year old to a long term deal that guaranteed Doumit $11.5 million over three years before the 2009 season. The Pirates also hold a unique two year option for $15.5 over the 2012 and 2013 seasons that the club must decide to accept or decline after 2011.

Towards the end of April the injury bug bit Doumit again. This time he fractured his wrist in April after 45 at-bats. He returned from injury on July 19 after a dissapointing minor league rehab stint where he only registered two hits in 24 at-bats across two levels. This continued upon his return to the big leagues (he hit .246/.261/.431 in July and .176/.231/.329 in August over 150 at-bats) and some frustration began to mount for Doumit. After his agent cleared up some misconceptions early in September he took off and finished the season strong with a .346/.424/.481 showing in 81 September at-bats.

Despite his hot finish Doumit finished the year with a .250/.299/.414 line (.306 wOBA) in 75 games and 280 at-bats. The tricky wrist injury didn’t seem to help his production at all but Doumit should be reporting to spring training at full health. Doumit has generated some trade interest this off season and he has a relatively friendly contract but his value is down and the Pirates likely won’t sell on him at a severely discounted rate.

Doumit’s career year in 2008 was aided by a robust .338 BABIP. This helped pad his slash line and especially his batting average. His BABIP plummeted to .271 in 2009 and for his career Doumit has a slightly above average .307 BABIP. Doumit’s 2009 walk rate (6.7%) remained in line with his 2008 rate (5.1%) but he struck out more often in 2009 (17.5%) compared to a lesser 12.8% in 2008. Doumit had struck out in 20+% of his at-bats in each year with the big league club prior to his breakout 2008 so some of the regression we saw in 2009 shouldn’t be seen as stunning.

Although the classification of line drives can be tricky (per scorer in different ballparks) Doumit did see his line drive percentage slip to 17.9% in 2009 compared to 23.4% in 2008. This implies that he wasn’t hitting the ball as hard in 2009 as he did in 2008. For the first time in his career he struggled mightily with fastballs (-0.77 run value per 100 pitches) and breaking stuff (-2.62 run value per 100 pitches against sliders and -0.96 versus curve balls).

With the help of the expected BABIP calculator from The Hardball Times, we can get a clearer picture of Doumit’s expected BABIPs (XBABIP) based on his batted ball profile. Here are the XBABIPS for the past three years for Doumit:

2009 (280 at-bats): .314
2008 (431 at-bats): .314
2007 (251 at-bats): .320

Interestingly enough, Doumit’s XBABIPS for 2008 and 2009 are exactly the same despite the very different line drive percentages. If we apply the XBABIPS to each of Doumit’s slash stats over the past three seasons we end up with these revised triple slashes assuming that all hits added or subtracted were singles:

2009 (280 at-bats): .293/.342/.457
2008 (431 at-bats): .294/.333/.477
2007 (251 at-bats): .262/.329/.460

Interesting. It’s evident that Doumit underperformed in 2009 (and yes the injury likely played a role) but he over performed in 2008. The abnormally high BABIP helped him a lot in 2008 and with some regression over the past three seasons we get a better idea of where Doumit’s true skill set stands.

Doumit is entering his age 29 season and it appears that he will report to spring training healthy. Doumit has been anything but durable and healthy over his career but freak injuries like his wrist injury in 2009 could happen to any player.

I’d project Doumit to hit for a solid batting average and he’s going to get on base at an above average clip and also slug at an above average rate. The Bill James 2010 projection of .285/.341/.471 with 15 home runs seems very accurate. If Doumit stays on the field you could expect closer to 20 long balls.

Doumit is coming off of a down year and you’ll need to closely monitor his health but the systems are pointing at him to be a top ten catching option next season. He’s going to slip in drafts but don’t wait too long to take him. Gamble a little earlier around rounds six through nine. He has the potential to really be worth it and make a noticeable difference in your fantasy league.

We hoped you liked reading 2010 Projection: Ryan Doumit by Dan Budreika!

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He might yet get traded too (given the yard sale that’s been going on in Pittsburgh) which might increase his value (or maybe not, if he ends up the backup somewhere).

But injury-prone catchers are tough buy in a lot fantasy leagues. Unless you like carrying an extra one on your bench (and, in daily leagues, swapping them around a lot).