Not Bad for a Bunch of Old Catchers
by Ken Arneson
2008-06-18 0:32

Last night, Mark Ellis and Bobby Crosby combined to go 6-for-9, including three home runs and a double, plus two walks, off Brandon Webb and the Arizona bullpen. Not bad for a couple of middle infielders who, oddly, are viewed by Baseball Reference as resembling a bunch of good-but-not-great, long-careered catchers:

Mark Ellis, Similar Batters through Age 30:

1.  Don Slaught
3. Terry Steinbach
5. Hal Smith
6. Sandy Alomar, Jr.
7. Dan Wilson
8. Darrin Fletcher
10. Bengie Molina

Bobby Crosby, Similar Batters through Age 27:

1.  Andy Seminick
3. Miguel Olivo
6. John Stearns
7. Barry Foote
8. Ben Davis
9. Steve Yeager

Obviously, Ellis’ group of similarities is better than Crosby’s, so it’s fitting that Ellis hit two homers last night, to just one for Crosby.

I suppose it’s also fitting that Kurt Suzuki also homered. Perhaps when all is said and done, Suzuki might end up being similar to one of these two groups of catchers, as well. His defense and pitch calling seem to be good enough for him to have a long career if he stays healthy. Whether he is a starting catcher for most of his career like Ellis’ comps, or bounces between starting and backup duties like many of Crosby’s comps, depends on whether he can hit enough.

Ellis’ comps mostly had career OPSes between .700 and .750, while Crosby’s were generally between .650 and .700. Suzuki? He’s been a streaky hitter so far in his young career. His career monthly OPSes go like this: 1.352, .573, .776, .692, 1.069, .663, .521, .828. All those ups and downs add up to a career OPS of .698. He’s right on the border, so you can easily imagine his career going either way. I’d take another steady Terry Steinbach any day of the week, but Suzuki will need to both improve his hitting and smooth out those monthly charts if he wants to be considered in the same breath as good ol’ #36.

Comments: 4
1.   alex 7
2008-06-18 01:32

1.  is streaky hitting any worse than consistent hitting - assuming the end result (OPS or something similar) is the same?

Any extra wins during hot streaks, negated by missed opportunities during cold months, would equal similar win shares compared to a steady plower, no?

2.   MC Safety
2008-06-18 07:39

2.  Wow, Sluggo Slaught had a few good years there in the early 90's.

Guess they didn't call him Sluggo for nothing.

3.   Ken Arneson
2008-06-18 09:03

3.  1 You're probably right, but my point was more that it makes it harder to evaluate his true talent level right now. Is he the guy with the .500 OPS who had a couple of lucky months to start his career before pitchers figured him out? Or is he a .800 OPS guy who had a couple of rookie slumps that he'll learn from?

4.   trainwreck
2008-06-18 18:54

4.  I should be used to this by now, but it is really weird to see Blanton go against Haren.

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