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The Season that Was: John Buck

When we signed John Buck in December of last year, it kind of met with a 'that's ok, but when are we going to sign a catcher'. I always kind of liked Buck when he was a Royal. At one time he was a pretty good prospect but Kansas City has this reverse midas touch with prospects, they can turn any prospect into a bust. I guess that is a good argument for going after Alex Gordon.

In an off-season when every free agent catcher seemed to be getting a two year contract, Alex was able to sign Buck to a one year deal. As it turned out, it was a good idea for Buck. After a really good year he was able to get a big 3 year contract from the Marlins.

Buck was coming off injury filled 2009, though he didn't hit bad in the 59 games he got into, with a .247/.299/.484 line. Most of us were pretty pessimistic on our preseason predictions for Buck, except for Dexfarkin, who guessed he'd hit 20+ homers and flirt with .300. Pretty accurate. For some reason SB isn't letting me put up the stats widget for Buck, I guess that is what we get for not signing him. In 118 games, he hit .281/.314/.489 with 20 homers, 66 RBI and 25 doubles. Fangraphs has him at a 2.9 WAR, giving an $11.5 million value for the Jays, a very nice season. 

John was one of the few of our Jays that hit lefties well, .409/.411/.705 vs. LHP and .246/.288/.430 vs. RHP.

He hit a little better on the road (.295/.323/.518) than at home (.265/.302/.454).

He was great with runners in scoring position, .307/.337/.477.

His walk dropped a bunch his year (from 6.4% in 2009, to 3.7% in 2010). Makes it seem like he caught the 'don't take walks' disease that runs through our club house. He struck out a little less (29.6% in 2009, 27% in 2010). Line drive rate was down (18.2% to 16.1%). Ground ball rate up a bit (37.1% to 39.1%). Fly ball rate didn't change at all (44.7%).

His longest hitting streak was 10 games. He never went more than 4 games without a hit.

By month Buck hit:

April: .215/.268/.477

May: .297/.342/.554

June: .271/.289/.500

July: .328/.338/.478

August: .283/.306/.348

September: .287/.330/.517

Pretty consistent. 

Defensively, he seemed to work well with the pitching staff. He doesn't have the best arm behind the plate, he only threw out 16% of base stealers in 2009, but midway through this season he started, he started throwing from his knees and it worked really well. Overall, for the season, he threw out 28% of base stealers. He wasn't great at blocking balls in the dirt, though he seemed to improve as the season went on. He was awarded just 4 passed balls but there were 39 wild pitches with him behind the plate. 

His favorite team to play? He had 4 terrific games against the A's, .667/.692/1.667 with 3 homers and 7 RBI. Least favorite? He went 1 for 8 with 3 k against Arizona. Of the AL teams, he hit just .115/.148/.231 in 8 games, against the Cleveland Indians. 

Buck is only the second Blue Jay catcher to get to 20 home runs, Darren Fletcher got to 20 in 2000. Ernie Whitt made it to 19 a couple of times (course he didn't have Cito putting him out there every game trying to get him to 20) and Rod Barajas made it to 19. The 2.9 WAR would put him in a tie with Ernie Whitt's 1987 season for second best season by a catcher in Jay history, just behind Whitt's 1983 season at a 3.1 WAR. 

He was great to watch. I hope things go well for him in Florida.