Travis d’Arnaud: TDA less TBD

Here is Travis d’Arnaud before he was sent down on June 8th: .180/.271/.273/.241 (BA/OBP/SLG/wOBA).

Here is TDA after his return: .269/.315/.481/.346. He also tore it up (again) at Triple-A.

Here is TDA from August fifth onward: .280/.335/.510/.369. Yan Gomes, FYI, went .278/.313/.472/.340 albeit for the season.

In general, a more aggressive approach per our Nicholas Minnix was a primary reason for his success. While his overall contact slightly dropped, he made more contact at stuff in the zone including first-pitch strikes and struck out less (17.2% K-rate prior; 15% K-rate after even though his contact-rate dropped a percent and swinging-strike rate jumped a percent). His walk rate cut in half, and while you think I was about to complain, instead: the combined effect of his BB% and K% means something good to us: more balls in play, and quality balls in play.

Batted Ball Spray:

Check out this GIF from Nicholas’ post as well. Buy into that batted ball spray. After his return, his line-drive rate approached 22% and for the season (much more impressive after his return), he only pulled the ball 39% of the time and hit the ball to center almost as much while able to go the other way 25% of the time.

Breaking Balls/Contact:

As a disgruntled Mets fan living in Minnesota, much of the time for Mets games, I have to resort to MLB.TV on my phone at the gym. Into Pitchf/x, I am, I can rarely see the per-pitch effect, but I have so many clips in my head of d’Arnaud hitting breaking balls well. I went to pull some data and then didn’t have to thanks to this Brooks Baseball summary on TDA’s card:

Against Breaking Pitches (413 seen), he has had an exceptionally good eye (1.22 d’; 70% swing rate at pitches in the zone vs. 25% swing rate at pitches out of the zone) and a steady approach at the plate (0.07 c) with a below average likelihood to swing and miss (26% whiff/swing).

…A rookie catcher that makes solid contact. In fact, of the catchers you should own next year, he had the 7th best contact rate at 83.2% last year. Value-add: he also had the 7th best Isolated Slugging (.174) – ahead of Brian McCann, Wilin Rosario and Jonathan Lucroy. A top 10 contact rate with top 10 power: that’s counting stats for you.

Steamer Projections:

According to Zach Sanders’ EOS Catcher Rankings, last season TDA finished under replacement value (Kurt Suzuki/$1.00) at #17 overall with a 5×5 line of 13HR-48R-41RBI-1SB-.242BA in 385 AB’s (108 G’s).

For his 2015 projection, the difficult thing for me to project is the games total. The rest is a bit easier excluding bad luck, but…

Steamer’s 2015 Projections are already up FanGraphs! I think d’Arnaud’s projection is right on: .253BA-18HR-2SB-57R-65RBI in 128 games.

First off, a .270 BABIP according to Steamer is fair based on his .256 career rate, but as of 9/5, in this post on verifying xBABIP potential, TDA was about 13 hits behind his total, which would have knocked his batting average up all the way to .270 at the time. Shift effect shouldn’t come into play based on his excellent (especially post-call-back-up) batted ball spray. Plus, he is on the Mets meaning anything he does will have less of an impact to other teams so why shift.

There is a chance for a .280 BABIP based on my projected BIP mix for him and individual BIP BABIP’s as follows:

  • HR/OFFB%: 14.2%
  • BIP Spray: 41.5% GB-rate; 38.2% FB-rate; 20.3% LD-rate; 11% IFFB-rate; 4.5% IFH-rate
  • .720 LD BABIP and .150 FB BABIP, which is about 20 points higher than last year’s BABIP combined

If his BABIP is .270, based on last year, that will mean his xBABIP will be about .290 (xAVG of .270) so there’s room for inflation in the BA department.

Steamer’s R and RBI totals basically match my manual R/PA and RBI/AB rates. I could see a few extra Runs, but I landed on exactly 65 RBI as well in one less game originally.

I would love to project more games played, but only Jonathan Lucroy, Buster Posey and Miguel Montero appeared in more than 130 National League Games.

What would Steamer’s 2015 projection have done to his value this year? He would have been the number 7 catcher just ahead of a lucky Russell Martin:

Salvador Perez and Brian McCann might out-value him again, but considering the price/round differential, I’ll be eyeing TDA and pouncing a few rounds earlier than his average draft position.

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Daniel Schwartz contributes for RotoGraphs when he's not selling industry leading thermal packaging. You can follow him on twitter @RotoBanter

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The question becomes, how high will people bid on him? Will he be on everyone’s sleeper list because of his much better second half, so that he is fully valued at auction/draft next year?


I don’t think he’s a sleeper on everyone’s list. Also, he might have competition in Mets AAA catcher Kevin Plawecki soon, so that might drive need and want down for TDA.

There’s a lot of decent catchers out there, TDA is probably top 20…but not much higher than that.