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The Season That Was: Rod Barajas

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In 2008 Rod Barajas was kind of sharing time at catcher with Greg Zaun, then Zaun got hurt and Cito became manager. Cito grew to really like Rod and once Cito likes a player there is no amount of new information that is going to change his opinion. Rod was incredibly, almost unbelievably hot and cold. All in all he had a fairly decent season in 2008 hitting .249/.294/.410 for a WAR of 1.2.

He's been an interesting player, decent slugging but can't get on base if his life depended on it. If he could take the occasional walk he might be able to level out the hot and cold streaks, but when you show pitchers you will swing at everything you don't really give them much incentive to throw you strikes. 

In the Community Project we guessed that Rod would have a .290 OBP and  a .400 SLG in 450 plate appearances, which with his defense would have been worth about a 0.8 WAR. He really hit:

2009 - Rod Barajas 125 429 43 97 19 0 19 71 20 76 1 0 .226 .258 .403

So he didn't get on base as well as we thought he would, we were 32 points high on that but we were very close on the slugging average and close on the plate appearances since he had 460. His on base average was the worst in the major leagues among players that had 450 or more at bats. The second worst was Yuniesky Betancourt at .274. There were only 4 players majors with a lower batting average. Fangraphs has his WAR at 0.8.

Rod hit left-handers pretty well (.267/.308/.486) but hardly hit righties at all (.213/.241/.377).

He hit better on the road (.238/.280/.435) than at home (.214/.234/.369), actually worse at home than Vernon Wells hit at home. 

With RISP he was pretty good (.264/.298/.480). With the base empty he didn't hit at all (.183/.202/.328).

By month Rod hit:

April          .299/.333/.493

May           .274/.304/.369

June          .224/.268/.418

July            .182/.193/.327

August       .225/.253/.535

Sept/Oct    .153/.189/.244

So he started the season pretty well and he went downhill from there expect for a home run streak in August. 

His longest hitting streak was 7 games, back at the end of April. 

His favorite team to play? He had 4 good games against the Phillies (.500/.583/1.200). Of the AL teams Rod hit the White Sox well (.500/.526/.667). Least favorite team to play? The Indians (.105/.100/.105).

Defensively? Well, judging a catcher's defense isn't something you can't really put numbers on but he seemed to call a good game behind the plate. He has a good arm, he threw out 34% of base stealers. He made 8 errors, which tied for the most among AL catchers.

It was kind of a strange season, he set a career high in RBI's with 71.  But then he had an OPS+ of 71. 19 home runs is good. 20 walks isn't. I tend to think a .258 on base average just too low. He made to many outs. He will be 34 next year so it is hopeful thinking to expect him to improve much now. At best you have roughly a replacement level catcher or slightly better. The trouble is, do we have anyone else that would be replacement level?

Where does he fit among the catchers in the AL East? Well, I'd rather have Victor Martinez or Jorge Posada. Obviously Matt Wieters has more potential, I'd take him next year too. The Rays? Not sure who will catch for them next year, Gregg Zaun had a 1.8 WAR last year. I think, if the Jays want to contend we really have to find else to catch.