Who thought it was a good idea for 2 catcher leagues? I’m guessing it was Lou Marson, because I’m not sure why else that guy exists. A word of friendly advice, when trying to survive league formats that carry a second catchers position, the general rule of thumb is try not to stab yourself in the eye. Trust me, because for the next six weeks, I’ll have to wear this custom made bedazzled eye patch. How, might you ask, am I going to get through these trying times? Well, first, I’m going to dance to the rhythmic beats of ‘Africa’ by Toto. My hips will gyrate and my bedazzle jewels will shoot out rainbow sparks. Soon thereafter, I will come to the realization that I’m in leagues where I actually drafted the likes of Mark Teahan, Manny Parra, and Jo-Jo Reyes in the ending rounds. When it was all over, I laughed, I cried, and I vomited up blood, much like how all of my relationships with women have ended. This is the suffering, we, as deep league fantasy ballers and, not to forget, the shot-callers, have to live with. While we welcome these hardships as part of the game we love, the journey requires a heavy amount of alcohol. Or maybe that’s just me, since, you know, I’m drunk all the time.
Regardless, let’s put this show on the road before I start getting Patron shots made in my mouth. Unless you somehow ended up with Brian McCann and Mike Napoli in your two C spots, the most common strategy is either to go halfsies with a stud and dud, or just punt the spots and go dud/dud. If that describes your predicament, follow me as I Tunak Tunak Tun my John Jaso feelings in your general direction.
Granted, Jaso was not exactly a warm and moist hug last season. In fact, he never even got close to my C spot. (Hint: It’s a little more to the left.) Similar to my last topic, Brian Matusz, John Jaso was considered to be a sleeper (on a lower tiered spectrum) going into the 2011 season. For the 2010 season, the then 26 year old had a very solid fantasy showing for himself as a first year catcher, especially in OBP leagues, boasting a 263/372/378 triple slash line with an alluring 14.6 BB%. Jaso also managed to reach 57 Runs and 44 RBI’s, very good counting stats considering he only had 339 AB’s. There was no power, but his career Minor League walk, strike-out, and BABIP rates all supported the numbers he put up and presented a hope that more could be offered to our catching starved souls.
Twas not to be in 2011, as a 40 point drop in his BABIP and 5.4% drop in his walk rate fueled a slash line of 224/298/354. He basically became Humberto Quintero… which, in Japanese fantasy baseball terminology, roughly translates to seppuku. In fact, he sucked so much, the Rays traded him for a professional twice over; an analyst and a therapist, Josh Lueke. If you are ever feeling down, let that story be your ray of sunshine. Gee whiz, my life sucks. Well, at least I’m not considered less valuable than a guy, to whom going out on a first date entails anal swabbing the very next morning. That makes me cheery and ablush in enthusiasm for life!
While Jaso didn’t possess huge upside, he’s still a league average catcher under a cost-controlled contract, which has value at the Major League level, something I had assumed was the Rays primary cup of tea. As far as I know, anal rapists really have no value, expect maybe as human piñatas. And, not to mention, upgrading the catcher position by getting rid of Jaso for the worst Molina brother (out of 204) and a dirty combination of Jose Lobaton and Robinson Chirinos is in itself a brain hemorrhage to be discussed another day.
In terms of fantasy, moving to SafeCo wasn’t exactly a positive step in the road to offensive recovery. And for the cherry on top, his new manager, Eric Wedge, isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the coaching shed to utilize such a player. All clueless managers have ‘Inception’ like totems to keep their reality in line with their stupidity. Dusty Baker has his toothpicks, Jim Tracy has his line-up cards, and Eric Wedge has Miguel Olivo.
I once met Olivo, and here’s how the conversation went:
Me- “Hi Mr. Olivo, nice to meet you. I’m Jay.”
Olivo- “Hi Jay, that’s wonderful hair you have there.”
Me- “Thanks. Say, let me ask about your opinion on the new study out on super-symmetric quantum mechanics—”
Olivo- “Oooo. Slider in the dirt. Hold on right there, I gotta go chase that.”
While Olivo went skipping off to chase every ball in the dirt he could find for the next century, the world soon witnessed Seattle’s trade for Jesus Montero, DH turned DH masquerading as a catcher. Sadly, Jaso was now number 3 on the depth chart and looking lost in the Mariner Seaman Shuffle. (Duck from any flying fish and pelvis’s that come your way.) Not exactly the best turn of events for our protagonist. Despite this, Jaso has always been known to have intangibles to deal with such travesty. I’ve basically combined, computed, and collated every single John Jaso interview into one paragraph, and this is what came out of my Google machine:
“I still have the awe factor when I’m catching (in a big-league game). All those years I played in the minor leagues putting in the hard work. There were a lot of guys who put the hard work in, too, and didn’t make it. I definitely count it as a blessing.”
He has grit, a blue-collar work ethic, a scrappy demeanor, which, in every expert scouting book glossary is defined as: ‘White Male Baseball Player’. While, we as fantasy owner’s, usually ignore such intangibles, at a very basic level, you have to root for a guy that puts team first, knows where he came from, and doesn’t matter where he’s going. He’s just happy and feels blessed. Isn’t that worth applauding in life? What I’m saying is; I like the guy. I root for him, and in this scenario, he looked like he was once again put in a position to fail. But, despite the current predicament, something strange started happening.
John Jaso, in the months of March and April, only appeared in 8 games with a total of 18 AB’s. Treated like one of Antonio Cromartie’s 28 children, only a DL stint to somebody, anybody, could perhaps make Wedge notice he was on the roster. So it was asked, so shall it be done! On the last day of April, Miguel Olivo went down with a groin injury, or what I like to call, Sunday wine nights. Faced with the inevitable, Jaso was finally put in the line-up on a semi-constant basis, Eric Wedge style. Even though Jaso saw most of the time in the DH spot, AB’s are still AB’s, no matter where they come from. Jaso accumulated 67 plate appearances in 17 games during May. Unfortunately, he only hit 232/328/393, but there was a silver lining here. During high leverage situations (based on the LI- Leverage Index) Jaso hit .357 with 7 RBI’s. In medium leverage situations, .313 with 2 HR’s. Now, forget the fact that we already know this type of production can’t really be an established skill set, most coaches still love eating any luck dragon that is offered up on their platter.
Defined as ‘clutch’ this year, Jaso has been rewarded even more playing time, and his numbers are finally regressing in the right direction. In his first five games in June, Jaso has gone 7 for 19 with a homer and 5 RBI’s. As of now, his stats look to be returning to what we expected a year ago, as his triple slash line now stands at 261/350/443. Jaso’s BB% and K% are sitting at 11.6/12.7, and even his ISO is 55 points above his career average. What can we say about deep impact here? Well, have you seen Leelee Sobieski lately? Someone needs to feed her a sandwich, that’s for sure. But what about in terms of John Jaso and his current deep league fantasy appeal? Well, it all depends on the context.
There are a couple of ways you can use him. If he’s available on your waiver wire and you are dealing with some current catcher injuries (Ex. R. Hernandez, G. Soto, C. Iannetta, J. Lucroy, etc.), well, he seems like Tyler Lautner playing the part of an al paca, a natural fit. Pick him and up and see if you can ride the current hot strike. If you are dealing with 2nd Catcher whiplash from the Nick Hundley or Kurt Suzuki types, yes, you should probably consider Jaso. If you are in OBP leagues, multiply everything positive I said by a factor of 2, and you should get my general feelings on the matter.
Look, John Jaso is not a fantasy Hey Zeus. There will be no miracles of watered down wine. But when building a team in a deep league, you want to try and soften the edges in the spots where you weren’t able to obtain a star. Those spots are usually perfect for taking high risk/high reward projects and players who won’t hurt your team. While Jaso is the latter here, there is nothing wrong with that. There is a certain something about this guy that I enjoy, both in fantasy and real life. At the end of the year, I expect Jaso to finish with a similar line that he had back in 2010, maybe something like 250/340/370 mixed with 5 HR’s, 50 RBI’s, 50 R’s and even a sprinkling of 5 SB’s. Spread out over 350-400 AB’s, that has deep impact. And if you tilt your head to the left, kinda squint your eyes so you can barely see him, you’ll notice that he might actually look like a real bona fide #2 catcher that just might help you a bit in surviving the black hole of two-catcher leagues. Or maybe he’ll just look like a blurred out shadow moving across your peripheral vision. I have no clue, I’ve actually never tried it.