Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Miguel Montero: Expect Bounceback Season from Diamondbacks Catcher

Heading into the 2013 fantasy drafts, Miguel Montero appeared to be one of the surest bets at the catcher position. When you weighed what he did in 2011 and 2012, our Draft Kit Projections seemed pretty conservative. 

Miguel Montero Stats

 
AB
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
2011 (Actual)4936518861.282
2012 (Actual)4866515880.286
2013 (Projected)5156317830.274

Conservative, they were not. Montero appeared to be one of the more “bust-proof” options and catcher, but what do you know? In 2013, Miguel Montero was a fantasy bust. 

Miguel Montero: 2013

AB
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
4134411420.230

So what exactly went wrong?

Well, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Montero missed some time. Actually, he missed most of August. That likely cost fantasy owners 2-3 homers, and about 10-12 RBI. On the other hand, more at-bats at that clip would certainly have hurt your team’s batting average more, so maybe view the missed time as a blessing.

Looking ahead to his 2014 value, the big question has to be around Montero’s average. Given the missed time and weaker batting average (homers are hits, too), his power clips weren’t that far off. But if you draft someone expecting something in the .280 range and get .230, you’re definitely going to be disappointed. But let’s dig a little deeper. (Numbers courtesy of Fangraphs.)

 
K %
LD %
AVG
201117.5 %21.9 %.282
201222.7 %20.9 %.286
201323.2 %21.4 %.230

Maybe a little lucky to hit .286 with those splits, but he was a lot bit unlucky in 2013. Nothing about that suggests that a 56-point drop in batting average was in order. Maybe a drop to the .265 range would have been in order, but the .230 was definitely unlucky. If similar numbers repeat themselves in 2014, Miguel Montero will be WELL above .230 in 2014. We project him to hit .253 in our draft kit, and I’d even say that it should be better than that.

Why am I so confident that his line drive rate won’t drop, and that his K rate won’t go up?

I like where Montero is looking to hit in that lineup. MLB Depth Charts currently projects Montero to hit clean up, between Paul Goldschmidt and the Arizona Diamondbacks new acquisition, Mark Trumbo. That could end up looking a little different, but it makes sense. You want to split the two right-handed sluggers up and while Trumbo’s power makes him more suited for the four spot, his low batting average is a little better suited to the No. 5 hole.

So follow this chain of events that will happen with the powerful Trumbo protecting Montero.

  • Step 1: Better Pitches to hit.
  • Step 2: More contact.
  • Step 3: More good contact.
  • Step 4: More Hits.
  • Step 5: Higher Batting Average.

Throw in Goldschmidt getting on base, and plenty of those hits can get us close to that 80+ RBI total that we got in 2011 and 2012.

I’d normally advise people to steer away from a guy who had a terrible year in the same season he turned 30, and plays a grueling position like catcher.

But with Montero, that just shouldn’t have happened. With better protection and hopefully better luck, 2014 will be much better for him.

If you take one thing from this post, let it be this.

Nash asked me if I was going to try to make a run at Buster Posey before the draft in our dynasty league. Posey wouldn’t be cheap to keep, but by the San Francisco Giants fanboy in me almost made me try to get Posey, who’s pretty much the consensus No. 1 catcher.

But then I looked at something. It’s a 12-team league and six teams already have catchers. At the least, I’m going to have Brian McCann, Matt Wieters, Wilson Ramos, Salvador Perez, Jason Castro, Evan Gattis, Yan Gomes, A.J. Pierzynski, and yes, Miguel Montero available to me.

So, no Posey for me. The catching position is pretty deep this year so you just don’t want to reach in the draft or overpay in an auction for one of those backstops.

Montero is a part of the depth of the position. He jumps off the page as a bounce-back candidate this year and right now, I’d say that he should be starting in any fantasy league.

Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks Catcher Fantasy Baseball Miguel Montero MLB

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