Catcher Platoons for the Reds and Rockies

Two of the catcher situations we said we would continue to follow closely throughout the season revolved around a pair of up-and-coming backstops who, based on pure talent and upside, were expected to eventually steal away the starting job on their respective teams.  Devin Mesoraco from the Reds was being paired with incumbent backstop Ryan Hanigan while the Rockies brought in former-Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez to mentor Wilin Rosario and set him up for future success.  We might be just three weeks into the season, but according to the current game logs, neither youngster is running away with anything right now.

Over the last few seasons in Cincinnati, fantasy owners watched as manager Dusty Baker put Hernandez and Hanigan into a direct platoon.  Each had some value, but neither was overwhelmingly helpful due to the relative 50/50 split in playing time.  But with Hernandez out of the picture, the door was wide open for Mesoraco to step through and steal away the job.  His talents were considered vastly superior to those of Hanigan and most expected him to, at least, earn the lion’s share of starts in a platoon.  So much so, that Mesoraco had an ADP of 255.0 in drafts while Hanigan dropped off the charts and remained undrafted in a number of leagues.

Well, it certainly hasn’t felt like Mesoraco has run away with the job, has it?  Out of the Reds 16 games this season, Mesoraco has started just seven of them and has appeared as a pinch-hitter in one other.  It does appear as if the edge is leaning his way lately — over the last seven games there’s been a pattern of him getting every third game off — but it is still as close to a direct split as you can get.  What can you do…?  Dusty is a big Hanigan fan and doesn’t appear as if he’s ready to turn things over full-time just yet to the rookie.

Offensively, Mesoraco may have a better slash line — .304/.404/.348 to .219/.324/.219 — but both have great walk rates, solid strikeout rates and are, more or less, equivalent in the counting stats.  But defensively, it still looks like the edge goes to Hanigan and his rapport with the pitching staff obviously has a more solid foundation.  You also can’t discount the fact that teams are running a little more on Mesoraco who has yet to throw out a base runner in seven attempts.  Perhaps this is nit-picking a little here in the early goings of the season, but this is what we have to go on.

So while the belief remains strong that Mesoraco will eventually push Hanigan aside even further, this situation looks like it will remain a direct split for the foreseeable future.  Mesoraco will obviously continue to work on his defense but is going to have to state a stronger case with his bat if this change is going to be expedited.

The situation in Colorado is actually a little easier to deal with as the expectations of Rosario taking over weren’t as high.  He is expected to be the primary at some point, but unlike Mesoraco, Rosario wasn’t expected to run away with the job immediately.  Hernandez was signed to a two-year deal specifically to teach Rosario the ropes in the first year and eventually be phased out, either by the trade deadline this year or at some point next season.

And that’s the way it has played out so far.  Rosario has started just six of the Rockies 15 games and has only played in consecutive games once which was when Hernandez had a slight hand injury.  Offensively, Hernandez still has the edge.  They are close, counting stats-wise, but Hernandez is obviously still the more disciplined hitter.  That should change in time, but Rosario needs more work in order to fully surpass his mentor.

Defensively though, Rosario is surprisingly better than expected.  He’s not where Hernandez is, but he’s better than we thought he’d be.  There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done, but if he were to vastly surpass Hernandez with the bat, then the Rockies might be incline to endure a few extra rookie mistakes in order to keep his bat in the lineup.

For now, though, the situation in Colorado doesn’t seem to be drifting towards the youngster either.  The split will probably lean towards Hernandez for a while or until Rosario starts talking louder with the bat.  Eventually he will get there, so keeper league owners will want to make sure they hold onto him tight.

 

We hoped you liked reading Catcher Platoons for the Reds and Rockies by Howard Bender!

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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com

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Dan Z
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Dan Z

Would you advocate a strategy of owning both cathcers in the platoon if one had roster space? Thus having a catcher for every game and getting the combined stats?