Devin Mesoraco has burst onto the baseball scene in 2014. He is hitting an incredible .293/.366/.580 with a 161 wRC+ and 3.4 fWAR. Mesoraco’s 161 wRC+ is good 7th best in all of baseball of any player with 300+ PA.

Among MLB catchers, Mesoraco has been without question the most productive offensive catcher. Here are Mesoraco’s ranks among MLB catchers with 300+ PA:


The power numbers that Mesoraco has put up this season are very rare to occur from the catcher position. Mesoraco is one of only 33 catchers in MLB history to put up .945 OPS with 300+ PA. Even more impressive is that he is one of only 18 catchers in MLB history to put up a .580 SLG with 300+ PA.

Mesoraco is putting together one of the best seasons ever by a Reds catcher, and certainly the best offensive season since Johnny Bench. Here are the numbers:


It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Mesoraco crack the top five all-time among Reds catchers in HR, and crack the top 10 all-time among Reds catchers in bWAR.

As good as Mesoraco has been, it is crazy to think about the numbers he could have put up if he would have been healthy all season. Mesoraco is only on pace to play in 108 games. He has a 13.8 AB/HR, which is the highest in the NL (3rd highest in the MLB behind Encarnacion and Abreu). If you pro-rated Mesoraco’s stats this season to if he had 650 PA, he would have 41 HR and 125 RBI. If you pro-rated his bWAR to if he played in 147 games, like Bench did in 1972 when he set the Reds record for bWAR in a single season of 8.6, Mesoraoco would have a 6.9 bWAR.

76 Responses

  1. Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

    What are the chances he winds up 2014 with a .330 BABIP and a 23.3% HR/FB?

    I certainly hope he does but what does someone who “is an advocate of advanced statistics and sabermetrics” think the probabilities are?

    • Nick Kirby

      Probably not very high. I actually had a last paragraph about how he will likely come back down to Earth quite a bit due to his high BABIP, but I deleted it. As someone who gets accused of being “too negative” quite a few times, I thought I would just keep this about his numbers this year.

    • jdx19

      Probably too early to tell if Mesoraco is the kind of guy who is going to continually out-do the “average” BABIP numbers seen by most players (.290-.300) like Votto has done over his career. I’d say probably not at this point. Most likely, he ends the season with something like .310 BABIP.

      23.3% HR/FB isn’t really that out of whack, in my opinion. That’s easily maintainable.

      I think end-of-season numbers like .285/.345/.550 are well within reach. He doesn’t even have to hit particularly well to log that impressive line.

      I’ll take it!

      • jdx19

        Nick, you’ve got a typo up there! The placement rankings list his SLG as .508 instead of .580! 😉

      • Nick Kirby

        I agree with that. I think his HR rate will still be pretty high, but his AVG will definitely go down quite a bit. Hopefully with the league now knowing just how much of a threat he is to hit bombs, his BB% will go up too. I think an attainable slash line next year that I would like to see would be .260/.340/.500.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        23.3% HR/FB is 4th in the majors for batters over 300 PAs. Mesoraco’s HR/FB last year was 10%. Votto in his MVP year hit 25% but his career average is 18.3%. Bruce reached 20.2% in 2008; career 17%. Frazier is at 16.7% the highest of his career.

        I don’t think 23.3% is “easily maintainable”; none of the other power hitters on the Reds have been able to maintain it.

      • Steve Mancuso

        A few positive underlying stats for Mesoraco. First, the average distance of his fly ball has increased dramatically this year, from 275.70 feet to 296.44 feet. His fly ball rate has jumped from 33.8% to 42%. 16 of his 20 home runs would have been out in at least 27 of the parks. That’s a really high number of “no doubt” home runs as opposed to “lucky” home runs.

        BABIP is highly dependent on batted ball. It’s empirically much easier for a hitter to deviate from league average than a pitcher. Line drive rates are key to batting average and Mesoraco’s has increased from 21.1% to 23.4% – a big jump. A .330 BABIP puts him in the top 50 in the major leagues. His line drive rate is in the top 30 in the majors.

  2. ToddAlmighty

    Looking at those lists, I keep seeing this “Bench” guy accompanying Mesoraco’s name. Was he any good? Heh

    • Nick Kirby

      Crazy that Meso only needs 2 more HR to be only the second Reds catcher not named Bench to hit 22+ HR.

      • ToddAlmighty

        Very crazy. Even if Mesoraco doesn’t keep up his current hitting pace, I could live with that .260/.340/.500 you suggested higher up…. though I think it’d be awfully exciting if he continued to just crush the ball. At least then we wouldn’t have to hear about the Neck Tattoo during the AS Break all the time.

    • Steve Mancuso

      I’m not sure what your point is exactly. You’re sort of crossing the line into just being intentionally provocative and not advancing the discussion.

      If you’re asking whether Mesoraco is likely to continue to hit better than Johnny Bench this year, the answer is probably not. But it would have been “probably not” two months ago, too. So what?

      If you’re trying to suggest that Mesoraco isn’t a better hitter than Brayan Pena, or that it’s even a close call, well, that’s a stretch. It’s only a little bit of an exaggeration to say that Mesoraco is a better hitter than Pena by as much as Pena is a better hitter than Homer Bailey.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        I’m intentionally replying to your post which implied that the reason for Meso’s higher BABIP was a 2.3% increase in line drives. That seems like a trivial reason compared to the .173 increase in BA he has gotten on line drives. I asked if a .815 BABIP on line drives is sustainable; I doubt any sabermetrician would claim it is.

        I suggested nothing of the sort. I did suggest that if Mesoraco was in a prolonged slump and Pena was continuing to hit at the level he has since AS break, a decision to play the latter against a RHP in a playoff with Cueto starting for the Reds would be defensible. But that really has no bearing on the discussion here..

      • Steve Mancuso

        Those are two different stats and aren’t related. A 2.3% increase in LD% is gigantic. It’s more than a 10 percent increase. It’s the difference between being a top-thirty hitter and middle of the pack. And even if Mesoraco has been lucky on line drives falling for hits, that isn’t relevant to the power issue – the longer fly balls and higher fly ball rates.

        So your point is that if (a) Mesoraco goes into a prolonged slump and (b) Brayan Pena continues to hit at a level he’s never come close to sustaining in his career (ignoring the luck factors and small sample size on that half of it, of course) then a decision to go with Cueto in the post-season would be defensible.

        Don’t go out on a limb, there.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        Mesoraco had 266 BIPs last year of which 56 were LD on which he hit .642. If he had increased his LD rate by 2.3% but hit the same on them, that would have equated to approximately 4 more hits.

        If, by contrast, he had hit the same amount of LDs but batted .815 on them rather than .642, he would have had 10 more hits.

      • Grand Salami

        The regression King. All will regress and become subjects of the King at some point!

    • ToddAlmighty

      Line drives that let you touch all four contribute to a 1.000 BABIP. It’s silly to include the line drives of Skip Schumaker, Ryan Ludwick, and other folks with no real power anymore to compare it to Mesoraco.

      What’s the average line drive BABIP for everyone in the league with at least 20 HRs right now? Because say you have two guys who have both hit 50 line drives this year (making up numbers for simplicity sake). One has his 20 HR the other has 0 HR. 10 of the guy’s 20 HRs have been on line drives.

      That means 10 of those line drives automatically are in play. The defense doesn’t even get a chance for it. Then say he goes 20-40 in the other line drives he’s had.

      Meanwhile the 0 HR guy goes 25-50.

      They’ve both hit .500 on balls in play that weren’t home runs, but because of those 10 line drive home runs, all of a sudden the home run hitter is at 30-50 and the 0 home run guy is still at 25-50.

      Probably did a horrible job trying to explain my thought process here, but I think a HR hitter will always have a higher BABIP on line drives because he actually has power and those HRs are automatically successful when in play.. A Skip Schumaker type guy who can’t hit for power will have a lower BABIP for line drives because he doesn’t get a bunch of auto-successes.

      So find out what the BABIP on line drives for people with 20 or more HRs and I am sure he’ll be a lot closer to league average.

      • ToddAlmighty

        Really? Didn’t know that. Odd.

      • MrRed

        Actually, what this is saying is that BABIP really isn’t a good way to analyze and compare hitters. What do you think the odds are that a ball that’s hit 105 mph is going to fall in for a hit more often than a ball that’s hit 95 mph? Or go for a homerun instead of a flyout to center? We can play with numbers all day but if you don’t put any context behind them, you’re wasting your time.

  3. Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

    If by “never” you mean not since last August, then Brayan Pena has “never come close” to the way he is hitting now. In August 2013, he put up a .924 OPS when he was given significant playing time.

    Of course, he’ll probably get a lot less playing time when Votto returns plus we’re not even sure he’ll be back in the lineup soon with the hammy issue. Still this seeming obsession for some posters here to consistently denigrate certain players is odd; you don’t have to blast Pena to praise Meso.

    • Steve Mancuso

      “Never come close to sustaining” is what I said. One month isn’t a sustained period of time.

      Saying one player is better than another isn’t denigrating them. I can’t speak for opinions beyond this site, but if anything, people here have been generously optimistic about Peña. I don’t recall anyone “blasting” Peña or “consistently denigrating” him.

      Mesoraco is having a tremendous season. Saying that in light of that he should play as much as Johnny Bench did is no slight of Peña.

      • Kevin J. Brown

        I’m not sure why you have insisted on bringing up Pena here. The discussion was whether the numbers Mesoraco, tremendous as they may be, are likely to continue through the rest of the season. There seem to be a sufficient number of outliers to suggest that they probably won’t. I’m not sure that I have ever seen a player in the non-steroid era ever go from a 10% FB/HR to a 23.3% FB/HR in one year (before anybody starts I am NOT suggesting that Devin is using PEDS). And a .330 BABIP largely based on .815 BABIP on line drives seems clearly a statistical oddity. But if Devin winds up posting Johnny Bench numbers the rest of the way he should certainly start every game he can (within the confines of needed rest).

        As to Pena since you insist, I do not find it so unlikely that he could possibly outperform Mesoraco for the rest of the season as he has over the last month esp. if his ABs against LHP are limited. But I see little point in continuing to argue about the matter.

      • tct

        If mesoraco had been a career backup who was never a heralded prospect who suddenly had a big homerun surge at age 32, then yeah you could be suspicious. But he’s not. He’s 26, a former first rounder, a top 20 prospect in the last year he was eligible for such a list, and he is getting his first real shot at being the number one catcher. Before the season starts, there are always these lists made by the baseball pundits about the potential breakout players. Devin mesoraco was listed on just about every one of these lists that I saw. Of course, no one expected him to be one of the top 5 hitters in the league on a rate basis, and he will almost certainly regress a little, but people who follow baseball saw a breakout coming for mesoraco and he was always expected to be a above average power hitter. Look at his swing for crying out loud. In the other thread you kept trying to compare Pena and mesoraco’s stats from last year. But you are ignoring the difference in age, pedigree, and ceiling between the two players. With the info we have right now, there is no logical reason at all to believe that Pena would be a better hitter going forward than mesoraco would be. That’s not a knock on Pena and it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. But if the reds season comes down to one game, there would be nothing to support starting Pena over mesoraco. I don’t get why you’re trying so hard to hate on mesoraco. Everyone has admitted that he is probably having a career best year on a rate basis. But he could regress quite a bit and still be a well above average hitter. Pena has always been, and still is right now, a slightly below average hitter.

  4. Dale Pearl

    Here is a question that is bound to come up. Since Mesoraco’s stats are so over the top and unpredicted could there be steroids involved? Just asking. I don’t think so but curious if others are starting to speculate.

    • tct

      As mentioned above, it did not completely come out of nowhere. He was on just about every pundits list for breakout players. He was a top 20 prospect in all of baseball and a former first round pick. He’s probably over his head a little bit, but he has always been expected to be an above average hitter. The people that pay attention saw something like this coming, although probably not to this degree. Just because you didn’t see it doesn’t really mean anything and to just throw out PED accusations kinda ticks me off.

      • pinson343

        Johnny Bench predicted that Mes would eventually be the Reds’ cleanup hitter in 2013, maybe before then also.

      • tct

        Yeah, mesoraco has been a highly touted player by scouts and baseball people since he was in high school. The reds scouts liked him enough to draft him in the first round and essentially tab him as the catcher of the future over Grandal, another first round pick, when they traded grandal to the Padres. Anyone who is shocked that mes is having a big year just wasn’t paying attention.

      • Jake

        No offense to BP, but when he comes back Mes should still be in the cleanup spot

      • Dale Pearl

        TCT apparently you didn’t read where I said that I don’t think so but I would assume that some would consider it based upon his performance from last year.

    • Nick Kirby

      His power numbers are not over the top and out of nowhere.. Mesoraco hit 26 HR in 2010 in the minors.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        23 of those were in A+ and AA. In 2011. he had 499 PAs in AAA and hit 15 HRs. This year he is homering one every 15.5 PAs; he has NEVER accomplished that at ANY level.

        He’s swinging less this year and missing more when he does swing. Obviously he is taking a much bigger cut when he does swing and getting away with it so far. But you have to believe that pitchers will adjust.

      • tct

        Joey votto had never hit homers at the rate he did in 2010 before. That’s why they’re called career years. But just because votto hasn’t come close to 37 homers in any other year doesn’t mean he’s no good. And by the way, as Nick pointed out mes has had a power year like this in 2010 but you discounted that because it was in high a and aa but then you gave his aaa stats as proof for your argument. And the year he hit 15 homers in aaa he also had something like 36 doubles. You seem to think that mes was a light hitter with below average power before this year. Not true at all. Maybe you just don’t follow the team’s prospects that closely, but the people that do have expected something like this.

      • CP

        You are being lazy/sloppy with the stats you cite. Simply going to FG/BR and copying & pasting some stats isn’t good enough.

        First, it is well documented that Mesoraco battled hand and wrist injuries prior to 2011 and his power numbers suffered as a result, so you have take those numbers with a huge, massive grain of salt.

        Second, you act like 15 HRs for a 23 year old minor league catcher wasn’t good. Power frequently develops as the player approaches their peak year, so it is quite common to project power developing once they hit the majors.

        Both Joey Votto and Todd Frazier are good examples-Todd didn’t hit more than 19 HRs in the minors and he’s done that 3 seasons in a row in the majors. Joey never had more than 22 in the minors, and he’s hit more than that in every full season of his career. You add the fact that Mesoraco was a catcher

        There was a reason Mesoraco was a consensus top 20 prospect, even after the 2011 season.

        tldr, stop being lazy.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        Well perhaps Joey Votto hitting 24 and 25 HRs in the big leagues doesn’t exhibit as much power in your view as Devin Mesoraco hitting 23 HRs in A+ and AA ball. Some might find that a little odd though.

        The Reds were optimistic that Meo could hit better this year, but you might want to ask Nick what the sabermetric community thought. Or go to Fangraphs and look at the projections by ZIPS, Fans and Steamer before the year started. Averaging them out, it comes to this for Devin:

        .250/.311/.410 14 HRs in 439 ABs.

        The numbers Meso has put up this year appear to be unsustainable. His BABIP is very high based on a ridiculous number on line drives and his FB/HR is almost 2.5 times what it was the rest of his career. I would love to see an example of a player who made such a jump in one year and then sustained anything like it over a career. Find you and then you’ll be answering my points rather than personalizing the matter.

      • CP

        No one expects Mesoraco to put up a career 161 wRC+. You’ve created a strawman and then want people to prove that your strawman doesn’t exist.

        No one actually knows where Mesoraco will normalize at, because his minor league stats are whacky due to injury, and his early MLB stats were depressed due to playing time. Who knows? The ZIPS, Pecota, and Bill James projections are famously conservative, but are still subject to certain limitations: bad data in=bad data out.

        Some examples: Go look up Andrew McCutchen’s minor league stats for an example. Elite prospect who never hit more than 17 HRs in the minors (in A-AA). Hit 31 HRs just last year. You taking something that is relatively common, and acting like it’s rare.

        Other examples, Yadier Molina, who never hit more than 7 in the HRs, hit 22 in the pros. Posey hit 18 with his only full season in the minors. Again, hit 24 HRs two years later.

        Mostly, once the prospect start approaching their prime years, power starts going up. It isn’t a shocker.

      • Victor Minella

        Do you want Devin Mesoraco to fail? So what if his stats are not going to be this good for the rest of the year or even the rest of his career? The Reds are having a mediocre season, but two of their young players are showing promise and it is exciting. It is fun to see a young player finally have a breakout season.

  5. C-bus Chris 14

    If so, regarding steroids, it’s about time we take a page out of the Cardinals play book. I only say that half tongue in cheek.

  6. pinson343

    On the topic of Johnny Cueto (the NL Pitcher of the Week !) and run support: as of June 6, he was 5-5 with 3 no decisions. His ERA was 1.97. He should have more than 14 wins.

      • tct

        Why don’t you try making a point kev? Pinson’s point seemed pretty clear to me: that cueto has gotten some poor run support that could be caused by not playing the best players on the day he pitches. You just keep bashing on other posters and mesoraco, but you never make a point. You are starting to sound like another poster on this site, whose name I won’t mention, that tries to make ridiculous arguments just to be contrary. But at least that guy does make a point sometimes.

  7. bigjuxberg

    Good piece, Nick,

    My only concern with Raco is that 17 of his 20 HR have been pulled, 3 have been to CF and 0 opposite field. Only 5 of his 81 H have been to the right side.

    He has tremendous plate coverage and stands close to the dish, so he naturally catches middle away pitches a bit toward the outside of the baseball. I just worry that eventually, a portion of these pull-jobs will end up being rollover groundouts to the left side.

    It’ll be interesting to see how pitchers adjust in 2015 – whether they go away more – and then how Raco adjusts back. The good news is that he stands close to the plate and can spin on pitches on the inner half and off the plate inside – and since he’s close to the plate he can still square up pitches on the outer half. Guy’s a monster and I wouldn’t change a thing with his hitting approach right now…just a bit concerned about the high pull rate on his HR.

  8. eric3287

    Just a little anecdote, but in 2012 I was in SF for the San Francisco series. We got there early for one of the games and were watching batting practice. I saw Votto and Bruce and BP and you really could “tell the difference” by the sound the ball was making off the bat. I stopped watching for a bit after those 3 and suddenly heard what sounded like Votto again. I looked down and saw Mes taking BP. It was obvious to me at that point if he ever got consistent playing time he’d put up the numbers.

  9. Grand Salami

    Mes is 25 and basically in his 2nd season as the Reds starting catcher – as noted he has yet to collect the number of games behind the plate that most full time backstops do. His minor league game took a couple years to hone before he began dominating AA/AAA pitching. True to form he is figuring out how to use his power at the MLB level and playing with confidence. I expect to see him slugging .500 plus pretty consistently the next several years.

    • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

      Meso slugged .475 in AAA yet you expect him to consistently do better than that in the bigs? How many power hitters slug higher over their career in the majors than they did in AAA?

    • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

      Todd Frazier is slugging about the same as he did in AAA; .453 v. 460 in 2014. However, he has not homered since July 20th and his SLG has dropped 40 points since then. Last year when he had 600 PAs his SLG leveled off at .407.

      I would not be surprised at all to see Mesoraco’s SLG have a similar sharp drop over the last part of this season though I hope I am wrong. But to expect a player to consistently outperform his AAA numbers in the bigs seems foolish.

      • Grand Salami


        The first number is Joey Votto’s slugging percentage in his last full season in the minors. The rest is his slugging percentage for the Reds from 2007-2013.

        He isn’t an aberration. A lot of young players hit harder when the mature at the MLB level or make a fundamental change in their swing.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        So you think Devin Mesoraco is as good as Joey Votto based on one year with 300 PAs after about 600 PAs of mediocrity?

        Take a look at K/BB ratios. Meso’s aren’t getting any better and pitchers will eventually adjust.And the idea that Mesoraco has went in a few months from a 10% FB/HR guy to one who is going to consistently go 23% is unlikely in the extreme.

        Johnny Bench only obtained a .500+ SLG in 5 of his 17 seasons but you think DM is going to do it “consistently” based on a .475 AAA and a half a year? OK.

      • Grand Salami

        Please don’t misquote me to make your points

  10. Shchi Cossack

    There’s no question that after his 2010 & 2011 minor league seasons, Mesoraco was ready for promotion to the show, but as a top prospect, playing time was more important than sitting on the major league bench. The 2012 season was a total waste for Mesoraco and his future with the Reds. A backup with rare playing time is not the role for a top prospect at any position. Mesoraco had only full one season at AAA and another year with Corky mentoring him for his development behind the plate would have served him well. The Reds burned a year of team control for no reason and impeded Mesoraco’s development in the process.

    I think the lack of playing time really wore on Mesoraco emotionally in 2011 and 2012 and was a strong contributing factor to the issues between him and the manager. A player like Pena fills the backup catcher role superbly and such a player was missing (until this season) on the team since Ramon Hernandez left as a FA. I’m glad that Pena is signed for 2015.

    No one has a crystal ball to predict what the final month and a half of the 2014 season holds for the Reds and Mesoraco, but I still believe the Reds are outside looking in when the playoffs roll around and I see no reason that Mesoraco won’t continue to pound NL pitching to the tune of a .900+ OPS.

    I think (at least I hope) the issue of hitting cleanup has been resolved once and for all. Mesoraco is the man, now and going forward. That does bring up the issue regarding Mesoraco’s playing time going forward in 2015. Catching more than 140 games is simply not realistic and 140 games stretches the limits. Mesoraco needs another position to play (see Posey, Buster and Lucroy, Jonathan) in order to keep his bat in the lineup every day and pounding the ball against NL pitchers from the cleanup spot. Pena has fully demonstrated his effectiveness as a backup catcher and corner infielder (yes corner as in both 1B & 3B) with his .700+ OPS over the past 2 seasons. Left field is still a black hole on the major league roster and this offseason, I would make sure that Mesoraco gets an outfielder’s glove and ticket to Arizona to work with Eric Davis in order to prepare himself for a part time role in playing LF in 2015. For a semi-regular LF, I think the Reds need to look for a LH hitting OF to offset and compliment any LF playing time with Mesoraco since Mesoraco MUST play somewhere against EVERY LH starting pitcher. If the Reds are dead set against either Lutz or Perez as in-house candidates (and PLEASE not Schumaker!), then they need to find an external option. I don’t see any way that Winker is ready in 2015. Personally, I think Lutz or Perez could be a good option with regular playing time. With Mesoraco catching 120-130 games in 2015 and starting in LF for 30-40 games (all against LH starting pitchers) in 2015, Mesoraco will anchor the middle of the Reds lineup and could lead the Reds to the promised land next season. With a healthy Votto and Frazier batting in front of Mesoraco and Bruce and Phillips batting behind Mesoraco, the Reds lineup in 2015 looks solid.

    • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

      Hate to rain on your parade but here’s Mesoraco’s slash line batting cleanup this year;


      He was killing it batting 6th and 7th but his numbers take quite a dip when he steps into the #4 hole (and those stats include the 2 HR, 6 RBI Sunday game).

      As far as Meso playing OF so he can play almost every single day next year, the Reds would be crazy to do so. He doesn’t look like an OF and has never played an inning there in either the minors or majors.

      • Grand Salami

        That is still a .785 OPS (far higher than our injured cleanup hitter Phillips) and that is a pretty misleading stat because Price bounced Mes all over the lineup during injuries and when he first was red hot.

        Since 7/28, Price has batted Mes exclusively in the cleanup spot. Since consistently batting there Devin has slashed .298/.377/.596/.973

        That is ‘killing it’.

      • lwblogger2

        In all fairness, Mes in the 4-hole in general is too small a sample size to amount to anything other than speculation. Look, I think Mes is a good hitter. I think he could slot nicely anywhere in the 4-6 slots next season. I don’t expect a .900+ OPS but do think that the line Nick stated earlier in the thread is a realistic possibility. I’ll take that anytime.

      • Grand Salami

        It’s all SSS. Your example of Post All Star performance is the epitome of SSS. Let’s work with full acknowledgement of that fallacy. Equally fallacious is the idea that Mes batting 4th is markedly different than the Mes batting 5th or 6th, but that’s been mentioned.

        Mes has 98 PAs as a cleanup hitter this year that is your SSS.
        51 since 7/28 (my SSS)
        47 from 6/26 and prior (+ just 1 game on 7/21 in the interim)

        The bottom line is Mes is hitting really well this year and for the last 2 and half weeks he has been doing it exclusively as the cleanup hitter.

        If it ain’t broke . . .

      • tct

        You seem to have a problem knowing which stats mean something going forward and which ones don’t . Mesoraco’s stats batting cleanup so far just tell you how well he’s hit in the games he’s been in the cleanup spot so far. They don’t shed any insight on what he will do going forward in the 4 spot because he is the same guy no matter where he hits. He doesn’t gain any superpowers based on where Bryan price puts his name in a list. Pitchers know who he is and will pitch him the same way no matter where he is in the lineup. Protection in the lineup is not really an issue right now because Frazier is the only other above average hitter in the lineup. Mesoraco’s numbers hitting cleanup are no more meaningful than his numbers vs pitchers whose names start with L.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        If he was merely a statistical representation of a baseball player, that argument would be valid. But he is an actual human being and sometimes those things react differently to different things like where you are placed in the lineup.

    • Grand Salami

      It’s a ‘modest proposal’ as Swift might say. But just 10-15 games somewhere else is the difference between batting in 75 – 80% versus 85 – 88%. For a potential 5 WAR player, it’s incumbent upon the manager to find a creative solution. Price can mitigate the learning curve by doing a couple of things: playing him in LF only at GABP, ensure that Billy is always in CF those days Mes plays corner OF, make defensive substitutions late in close games.

      The Reds core covers everywhere but LF. However, the closest thing to a starter they have outside their core is Pena. So allowing Mes to play a couple dozen games out there would make this team much stronger.

      Finally, I really wonder how much of a downgrade from Ludwick he’d even be with an off season of practice. His arm will be unquestioned. His wheels will be better. It’s all about reading the ball and hitting a cut off man it seems.

    • lwblogger2

      I really don’t like the idea of him playing LF when he isn’t catching. Catchers also need full days off sometimes. Even Lucroy and Posey have gotten a handful of days this year to just be on the bench. My issue with Mes playing LF isn’t that I don’t think he can do it. In fact, I think he could turn himself into a decent LF. My issue is, having played catcher, that LF may be too much running to provide an adequate amount of rest for the legs/knees on days that he isn’t catching. I know there is some precedent in LA’s past and the Reds’ past, but that was a long time ago. I’d love to hear a guy like Bench’s thoughts on the matter. 1B makes a lot more sense to me, on days where Joey may need a day. I think you could see him getting 6-10 starts at 1B when not catching and with Votto getting a day off against a LHP.

  11. Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

    I’m sure he would be a regular Yonder Alonso out there.

    Besides, every minute they spend in spring training having Devin blunder around in the OF would be better put to use in improving his ability behind the plate. He’s somewhat below league average in throwing out runners and he has committed 8 passed balls. the Reds should make him a good catcher before planning to make him a below average OF.

    • lwblogger2

      I think you’ve hit on why they haven’t played with it this year. He still needs to work on being a good catcher. He’s vastly improved over last year though and has the potential to be a plus defender behind the plate.

    • lwblogger2

      When I say “it”, I mean a position change in general. I still don’t like the idea of Mes in LF when he isn’t catching. I’ve listed my reasoning above.

      • Shchi Cossack

        I agree, that I would like to hear from JB regarding the idea of playing Mesoraco in LF simply from the wear and tear on his legs. After hearing Pena complain (as much as Pena would ever complain about anything!) about the increased wear and tear he experiences playing 1B compared to playing catcher, I really have to wonder about any relief for a catcher by playing 1B. I don’t know; I have to rely on those with real exprience and expertise for such feedback other than my gut opinion.

        I appreciate hearing your viewpoint from the real experience perspective. Thanks.

      • lwblogger2

        Most games I ever caught in a season was maybe 80-85. A guy who’s played at AA, AAA or in the Majors would have much better perspective. I’m just going with what experience I do have.

  12. CP

    If only there was some type of arrangement where Mesoraco could hit but not have to play the field all the time, thereby extending his career. Oh, the Reds are playing the Red Sox tonight? Perhaps they know of such a method…

    Meh, Reds fans would hate watching Devon mash baseballs for a living.

    • Eric the Red

      I would hate it if that’s all he did. I’d hate it if other teams had guys that couldn’t field but could hit. I’d hate to have a huge part of strategy removed from the game. Yes, I hate the DH. And I hope Ortiz commits 4 errors in this series, or sits on the bench.

      • CP

        I wouldn’t want Devin to DH all the time, but not having to catch 2-3 times a week would help him out. Also, guys like Votto would benefit from not having to field. Also, maybe the Reds would have to get a decent hitter for the bench for once.

        I don’t particularly care for seeing Johnny Cueto hit or run the bases, and the guy everyone acts like is a good hitter, Mike Leake, has hit < 0.200. for the last 2 years. Boring.

      • Eric the Red

        The DH is an abomination. It distorts the game and takes away a huge amount of strategy. I don’t care if Leake hits .400 or .000, the DH is awful.

      • CP (@nomoresalads)

        Meh, I realize this is a matter of taste. In my opinion, the DH adds more than it takes and actually means the manager has to make judgment calls more frequently.

        The decision to remove a hitter is usually made for NL managers. If a pitcher comes up with runners on base and less than 2 outs=bunt. If a pitcher comes up late in the game=pinch hit. The double switching is excessive and adds useless moves that make the quality of baseball worse.

        In the AL, managers have to actually manage their pitchers and determine when to take them out. In addition, the bunting/pinch hitting decisions still come up for the bottom of the order guys, it just means that AL fans don’t have to watch 0.150 hitters get 2-3 ABs a game.

  13. Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

    To respond to CP:

    McCutchen, Posey and Molina support my argument. All had historically high levels of FB/HRs in 2012 and all have since returned to levels 6 or 7 points below that high. And none jumped 13% in FB/HR in a single year.

    In addition, all have much better K/BB ratios; all less than 2:1. Mes’ is approaching 3:1 and getting worse. he is swinging and missing more this year than he ever has. It seems inevitable that these trends will have to cost him and that his present level of production is just not sustainable.

    Perhaps he can adjust in the future but surely any such adjustment will mean less HRs and a lower SLG. So before we hand him a plaque in the HOF next to Bench, we might want to consider just how unusual his numbers are this year and how unlikely it is that he can keep them up “consistently” as some people think.