Historically, there has always been a major deficiency in some facet of Angel’s catchers. Bobby Wilson is hitting roughly .175, with 3 RBIs, and recorded his first extra-base hit of the season Wednesday (in 35 games). His stolen base percentage against him is .750, leaving room to improve. Chris Iannetta, John Hester, and Hank Conger are .818, .857, and .714 respectively. None are in the top 30 in the league. And what they lack in managing the run game, they truly haven’t compensated for at the plate, either. But Mike Scioscia, like any reasonable manager, is defense first. There are reasons behind Hank Conger shuffling flights back and forth to Salt Lake (in addition to Mike claiming Conger has “come a long way” defensively).
One does not have to iterate constantly that there hasn’t been as much production offensively from catchers to be understood. But what they lack in plate presence they reciprocate with intelligent design, preparation, and execution. The Angels sport the best staff ERA in the AL (3.43) and 3rd best in the Majors. Retrospectively, all through Spring Training each interview with Chris Iannetta asked about his new relationships with each starter, and how he was feeling his way along. He was frank about his progress, saying he was taking notes, writing in a journal, and studying comfort and pitch selection. As a Math major from UNC, his analytical skills are professional to say the least. It isn’t a coincidence he already has a no-hitter under his belt in his first season. Those never come easy, even with Weaver on the mound. The biggest surprise, however, has been the thrusting of Wilson and Hester at the pivot of the pitching staff. Strides are being made, and some credit has to go to both guys for maintaining the starters and stabilizing the bullpen (not to take away from the relief corp or Iannetta at all).
There are definite sacrifices players make in this game to succeed and win. Both positions that see the most action per play (pitcher and catcher) give up the most with their bat. Pitchers have never been feared sluggers, and historically, neither have catchers. It seems that the more devoted focus on defense correlates mostly to detriments on offense. Each pitch for these positions is hours of preparation, constant chatter in dugouts, and either results in a mini victory or defeat after the numbers are thrown down. This takes me back to Wilson and Hester’s bats. Even though Bobby is sitting under the Mendoza Line, and Hester looks to be headed that direction, they are components to a successful recipe. Give and take, push and pull. Dipoto and Mike assembled this formula for one reason and it looks to be victory.
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