Yesterday we took a look at the best and worst case scenarios for the Miami Marlins brand new catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the 2014 season. Today, we’ll take it a step further and make our official 2014 season projection for the Marlins new backstop.
I don’t want to be beating a dead horse, but discussing just how terrible the Marlins catching tandem in 2014 is a must in projecting and appreciating what Saltalamacchia brings to the table for the Marlins.
Here is what Michael Jong of Fishstripes had to say about the Marlins performance from their catchers from a season ago in his season preview for Saltalamacchia:
Saltalamacchia is a major addition to the Marlins given what they did last season at the catcher position. The Fish trotted out Mathis and Brantly along with the likes of Koyie Hill and Miguel Olivo for 644 plate appearances last season. Marlins catchers hit a collective .198/.249/.280, good for a pathetic .235 wOBA and a 42 wRC+. That means that Marlins catchers were 68 percent worse than the league average at the plate. Overall, catchers last season hit eight percent worse than the league average overall, so the Marlins were significantly worse than your typical big league backstops.
The Marlins catchers in 2014 were not just terrible, they were historically terrible. Saltalmacchia can only be an improvement for the Marlins, even if hitting regresses as many believe it will.
While Salty is not expected to repeat his phenomenal 2013 season, where he hit 17 percent better than the league average, he is very much poised to continue his development as a hitter and player for the Marlins in 2014.
As we mentioned yesterday, Salty’s abysmal 29% career strikeout rate is a major concern, as is the BABIP regression expected to greet him. Last season, Saltalamacchia posted a BABIP of .372, well above the .304 BABIP he posted the season before and his career mark of .322.
As a result, his batting average and on base percentage will regress to the mean as well. Instead of a .270 hitter, we should be expecting an average of around .240 for Salty. His on base percentage should hoover around the .300 mark.
Saltalamacchia should lose some home runs moving to Marlins Park, but he should also see some of the 40 doubles he hit last season turn into home runs. I’d still expect a home run number of between 14-16 from Salty in 2014, along with 30+ doubles.
Here’s a look at how the projections systems see Salty’s 2014 season playing out:
Of all the projections, ZiPS and the Fangraphs Fans have Salty having the best hitting seasons. Steamer is the least optimistic of his chances of having another strong season behind the plate.
To me, the worst case scenario for Salty would be if he had a season like Steamer projects him to have. It’s the only scenario that sees his BABIP dip below .300, something that has only happened once in his MLB career.
The official Marlin Maniac projections for Salty? A batting line around .240/.305/.410, good for a 2.3 WAR in 475 plate appearances.
Our official projection for Salty falls right in between what Michael of Fishstripes and what ZiPS projects for Salty in 2014. We are of course always holding out hope that Salty beats all these numbers and repeats his performance from a season ago.
What do you guys think about the official Marlin Maniac projection for Salty in the 2014 season? Sound off in the comments section below.