Originally Posted by Scrap Irony
Hamilton's ability at the plate and behind it is one reason why Reds' pitchers had the years they had last season. Look at his numbers as opposed to those of Mesoraco/ other Red catchers in catchers' ERA (3.05 v. 3.80). Look at his framing ability. He's been a 2.5-ish WAR guy for three years now. That means he's basically Todd Frazier over the course of 60% of the season.
IMO, game calling/ framing pitches is extremely underrated among catchers. It's one reason Cardinal pitchers post numbers as good as they do.
According to whom?
Both Baseball-Reference and fangraphs show Mesoraco as not only poor defensively, but decisively so.
I cannot understand why anyone would want to give more playing time to a guy who:
1) hasn't earned it
2) has shown he can't field the position well
3) hasn't shown an ability to hit at the major league level.
Catchers ERA means nothing to me. Hanigan got to catch Cueto and Mesoraco got to catch Leake. That alone is going to really swing "catchers ERA" and has nothing at all to do with the catchers ability. With that said, I do believe that Hanigan is a better defensive catcher than Mesoraco. Still, I fully believe that the Reds staff would be outstanding with either guy catching them because the pitchers are very good almost across the board (I am looking at you Mike Leake, Logan Ondrusek and Jose Arredondo).
One of the reasons the Cardinals post the numbers they do is a huge ballpark that people haven't grasped onto as being a huge ballpark yet. Molina does make a difference though. But there are a lot of reasons that team gets the pitching it does and it isn't all because of their catcher.
Baseball Reference and Fangraphs don't really take a full look at "defense" behind the plate when they look at WAR. Hanigan gets bonus points for the running game. Does is account for the fact that Johnny Cueto supplies him with a ton of pickoffs and no one tries to steal against him? Nope. Does it account for Devin Mesoraco having to catch Bailey, who generally speaking, doesn't do well with the running game because of his move to first and slightly slow time to the plate? Nope. Does it account for pitch framing at all? Nope. Of course, Hanigan would get plenty of boost there, because he is really good at it. But Mesoraco was also above-average at it, and he doesn't get any credit from either site for it. And then there is the biggest part of it all, where Mesoraco had so little playing time that on an at bat basis, he almost still qualifies for the 2013 ROY award, so his defensive "value" at this point by the numbers, is highly questionable. Just like his offensive value should be. He got about 6 weeks worth of at bats all season long.
So, going with your numbers:
1. Every rookie in baseball, every year, hasn't "earned" it. They are usually given an actual chance though, and I will argue all day long that Mesoraco was never actually given that chance. Never playing back to back days is not being given a chance. Playing 2-3 times a week isn't being given a chance. Especially when unlike other "platoon" guys, you aren't going up against guys who favor your skills. He got to go out there against whoever happened to be pitching that day because his manager stuck with a terrible plan of "this is your guy Mesoraco" and "this is your guy Hanigan".
2. Disagree. Multiple catching performance articles that look at all things the catcher does behind the plate (running game control, blocking pitches, framing pitches, avoiding passed balls) suggest he was slightly above-average, despite limited playing time.
3. He barely has 200 at bats, split up into two seasons, where he hardly started back to back at all. He also has an insanely low BABIP in that time. Maybe he will never hit. But his peripherals are fine and he has a very limited sample size that is broken up into crazy chunks because of the way he has been handled. I don't think for a second we know that he can't hit. I don't believe he has been given any kind of actual shot to show what he can do. He is a platoon usage guy, who doesn't get to benefit from an actual platoon usage. He never starts back to back, which means good luck finding a groove at any point in the season.
Just my opinion, but I don't believe he has been given any kind of fair shake by the Reds at this point in his Major League career to show what he is capable of and don't believe continued usage in that manner will be beneficial for him or the Reds future at the position. If the Reds had another team in the division that was neck and neck with them, maybe I get playing the position the way they did last year. But they don't. No one, on paper, is close in our division. Give the guy a chance who two years ago was the top prospect in baseball at his position to show what he can do.