When the Angels traded Jeff Mathis this offseason, it seemed like the right thing to do. Getting anything in exchange for Mathis seemed like a minor miracle, considering the incredible record of offensive ineptitude offered by the “catch-and-throw” man.
With Mathis gone, things had to pick up for the Angels backstops. Sure, they traded Mike Napoli in lopsided punchline of a deal that will forever live in infamy, but they got rid of Mathis! Things can only go up, right?
Wrong. Enter Bobby Wilson, newest proponent of Scioscialism.
When the Angels added Chris Ianetta from the Rockies, the catching position seemed solidified again. 2011 was split between Bobby Wilson, Mathis, and young Hank Conger – none of whom mustered a weighted on-base average above .300. It was something of a disaster. The Angels catchers ranked last in Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement thanks to their meager collection .238 wOBA. Adding Ianetta to the mix would only improve the position.
Which he did, right up until he hit the disabled list with a wrist injury in early May (sort of. Ianetta wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire when he went down.) With Ianetta on the shelf, the job turned to good old Bobby Wilson. Wilson, it turns out, is just as bad as Jeff Mathis – maybe even worse!
Bobby Wilson currently owns the fourth-worst weighted on-base in all of baseball (min. 80 PAs) with a sterling .190 mark. He is also the only hitter in the bigs to come to the plate 80 times without registering an extra base hit. His .171 slugging percentage is worst in baseball and his .000 ISO gives him a sexy .171/.232/.171. Love that reverse hourglass figure!
Unfortunately, Bobby Wilson suffered a concussion earlier this week which forced him onto the 7-day DL, bringing Hank Conger back up to the big club. Conger was a highly-touted prospect but the shine came off after his struggles in 2011. Will this opportunity be the one where Conger shows what he can do?
Poor hitting catchers are nothing new. Catching is a defense-first position due to its gruelling nature, grinding even the finest hitters to a fine paste. It remains curious that the looming presence of Mike Scioscia, proponent of baseball Played The Right Way and catching instructor to the Gods isn’t able to “coach up: these types of players.
Scioscia likes his catchers to catch – it’s right there in the job description. Whether he drove away more capable offensive contributors is pure speculation. It just seems, on the outside, that Angels favour catchers who simply cannot hit. They even turn good hitters bad and bad hitters good (or it seems, anyway.)
Even Jeff Mathis is thriving away from the notorious Scioscia Face! Mathis currently owns a .334 wOBA in limited time. Even when his numbers inevitably come to Earth, he is well on his way to his greatest offensive season. ZIPS rest of season projections give him a .282 wOBA by season’s end, which would be the best of his career.
Clearly, Mike Scioscia is the problem. Or not at all. But something is weird here. Does Scioscia forbid his catchers from taking BP, forcing them into marathon video sessions until their eyes bleed and they subconsciously drop to their knees to block phantom sliders in the dirt? One can only, rationally, assume so. He is a madman and must be stopped. Only the ninth manager to ever helm 2000 games? Pfft. Talk to me when you have a receiving corps above replacement level.