From being a consumer of Razzball for a few years, I’m sure many of you already know about OBP or On-Base Percentage league(s). Chances are, if you’re playing in an OBP league, you’re playing with some seasoned teams. The metric has eased into MLB broadcasts and has become an important measurement as to a players overall worth, more so than batting average. However, the player gets on first, whether he leaves the bat on his shoulder or gets plunked, the idea is, it’s just the same as a base knock. If you play in competitive leagues, I advocate changing from AVG to OBP. For me, it increased my understanding of different players who didn’t always get the recognition but are valuable to their teams.
One of the positions where the OBP skill is most helpful is catcher (think Scott Hatteberg in the book/movie “Moneyball”). Successful catchers often fall into two categories; someone who can hit well, but isn’t athletic (Devin Mesoraco), or an elite hitter who can manage the position in his prime and then transition out to 1st base or the OF (Buster Poseyor Joe Mauer). What both of those player types generally have in common is a great batting eye. In an OBP league, it helps to know the difference between the AVG. ranking, and the OBP ranking to pick up value at a difficult position to scout for.
Looking at a few metrics can find some values in the mid-late rounds if you do not secure a stud at catcher early. This chart below also highlights how much better Posey and Carlos Santana are in an OBP format, they can provide .70-.80 point in OBP higher than the next tier and that’s significantly more than AVG. Using Grey’s Top-20 at catcher, here are players OBA, AVG, and OBA-AVG to demonstrate which catchers stand out the most. The stats are compiled over the last three years, and I would strongly encourage teams to always consider ancillary factors such as park adjustments (Derek Norris) or adjustment to major league pitching (looking at you Mike Zunino). The walk rate (BB %) is an important barometer as well, only elite contact hitters can manage a good OBP % with a poor BB%. So here are two mid round suggestions and two late round suggestions:
Lucroy the Jedi is coming off some monster years and is due for some regression, his power may sink some, but he has a great OBP and should sustain worth if he falls in your draft due to that (monitor his sore hamstring in Spring Training, but he should be good to go) .
Molina must demonstrate health in spring training, but if he does so, should be worth what you’ll pay for him in a mid to late round slot.
Martin and Montero both have been picked up on the open market, Martin finds himself in hitter friendly Toronto, and Montero in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field in Chicago. Both have excellent walk rates and should produce for what you will need to invest. A full look at OBP-AV in the context of Grey’s top 20 catchers in the last 3 seasons below and until next time, good luck drafting Razzballers.