Ryan Doumit Sightings Uncommonly Frequent

In 2012, Ryan Doumit played in the most games in a season in his eight year professional career. That, right there, could be the beginning and the end to this post — because almost every snippet, write-up, and crystal ball-ism for Ryan Doumit headed into 2012 revolved around his inability to stay on the field. If he could find the at-bats, chances are he would be pretty useful. Surprisingly, he managed to stay (mostly) on the field, and he was unsurprisingly useful.

According to Zach Sanders’ mathematical genius, Doumit was the 10th ranked (qualified) catcher, with a value of $7, or to the Facebook generation, the price of promoting your post. For the Minnesota Twins, they got a 1.6 WAR performance which amounts to a tidy little bargain on what became a 3-year $10 million dollar deal after his June extension. And chances are, savvy owner, if you picked up Doumit for $3 bucks or around the 20th round where he projected, you found yourself an equally nice bargain at a notoriously fickle position.

And again, his value begins and ends with his health. Because there’s really not much in Doumit’s batting profile in 2012 that can be construed as particularly surprising. Take his batted ball profile (Pirates fans can invoke a Henny Youngman-ism here if you so choose):

Doumit 2012 1.16 22.40% 41.70% 35.90% 7.10% 12.80%
Doumit Career 1.15 20.00% 42.80% 37.20% 8.10% 11.40%

Ryan Doumit basically went out there and acted like Ryan Doumit, it’s just that nobody was used to seeing him suit up quite this often. He shows up for 528 at bats and poof – suddenly, his stats collectively started looking awfully attractive. Even looking at his standard statistics, his 2012 bore a striking resemblance to Doumit’s career line:

Doumit 2012 5.50% 18.60% 0.275 0.32 0.461 0.186 0.306 0.332 110
Doumit Career 6.50% 17.50% 0.272 0.331 0.446 0.174 0.304 0.336 106

So if you were a prognosticator that thought Doumit was going to show up for work this frequently, you probably weren’t at all surprised by his 18 home runs or 75 RBI. That they were both career highs is kind of irrelevant, because the ability has already been demonstrated. The question is, and always will be, can he stay on the field long enough to help your fantasy squad — and that same drum is going to be bludgeoned heading into 2013.

The big bonus for Doumit in the American League of course, is the presence of the designated hitter — a slot in the lineup particularly well suited to aging catchers with a bat but sore body parts (which the Twins have two of). Doumit received 200 plate appearances as DH with the Twins in 2012 and the arrangement seemed particularly agreeable as he hit .267/.330/.528 with ten home runs and 35 RBI.

And then there was his “adjustment period.” His first month in the AL was a mess. He hit .250/.265/.344 with just one home run, three doubles, and walking just 2.9% of the time. From June 1 to the end of the season, Doumit hit .281/.314/.471 with 13 home runs, 29 doubles, 50 RBI and 41 runs scored over nearly 400 plate appearances. Whether the slow start was dumb luck (.273 BABIP over first two months), adjusting to a new league, or just noise, I don’t know — but Doumit was an impact catcher over the bulk of the second half.

If I had to wager, which I do far too frequently for my pay grade, I’d still be pretty cautious entering 2013. For one, I’ll just re-state the obvious which is he’s never been this healthy before, and it seems foolhardy to bet on another 500+ at bats for a player turning 32 in April. Still, there’s certainly the possibility that the DH keeps his respective body parts fresh enough to make this the new normal for Doumit going forward, but color me fifty shades of skeptical.

Second, despite the above statistics that appeared to be right on par with what you would expect from him, Doumit actually demonstrated some plate discipline issues in 2012. His O-Swing% rate jumped about 8% to 34.9%, his contact on balls outside the zone dropped about four percent and his swinging strike spiked to 10.5%. But then again, none of this is particularly damning — this could represent a blip and he could revert right back to his career norms.

What we know is Ryan Doumit has been playing major league baseball since 2005 and he’s appeared in 745 games. That’s an average of about 93 games per season. He’s always flashed that plus power at the catching position, and he brings with him some positional flexibility, being eligible at first base and the outfield entering 2013. But if you are thinking of paying for Doumit this coming season, you’re paying a career year premium. It might be worth it, it might not. I’d be much more inclined to leave that risk to the next guy.

We hoped you liked reading Ryan Doumit Sightings Uncommonly Frequent by Michael Barr!

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Michael was born in Massachusetts and grew up in the Seattle area but had nothing to do with the Heathcliff Slocumb trade although Boston fans are welcome to thank him. You can find him on twitter at @michaelcbarr.

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