23 September 2016

Caleb Joseph Is Having One Of The Worst Offensive Seasons In Orioles' History

Do you remember Geronimo Gil? You should. His name is fun to say and he had a strong arm. He also could not hit. Hitting well is not a requirement for backup catchers, who are more sought after for their defensive skills. Still, you don't want an absolute zero in that spot (or any spot). That's essentially what the Orioles have received out of Caleb Joseph this year.

For the Orioles in the Expansion Era (since 1961), there have been some truly terrible offensive performances. Every team is forced to use bad hitters from time to time. Still, in that time span, nine O's hitters completed seasons in which they received at least 100 plate appearances and posted a batting average of .200 or lower and an on-base percentage of .230 or lower.

Here's the list:

1 Jackie Gutierrez .414 .186 .207 152 1986 BAL 61 145 8 27 0 4 3 27 .207
2 Caleb Joseph .422 .178 .221 138 2016 BAL 47 129 7 23 0 0 7 27 .202
3 Mark Belanger .442 .174 .224 205 1967 BAL 69 184 19 32 1 10 12 46 .217
4 Freddie Bynum .444 .179 .220 121 2008 BAL 40 112 13 20 0 8 5 31 .223
5 Juan Bell .450 .172 .201 223 1991 BAL 100 209 26 36 1 15 8 51 .249
6 Glenn Davis .460 .177 .230 123 1993 BAL 30 113 8 20 1 9 7 29 .230
7 Lenn Sakata .476 .191 .221 168 1984 BAL 81 157 23 30 3 11 6 15 .255
8 Sam Bowens .495 .163 .199 222 1965 BAL 84 203 16 33 7 20 10 41 .296
9 Geronimo Gil .532 .192 .220 134 2005 BAL 64 125 7 24 4 17 5 23 .312
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/23/2016.

There's Gil, who was terrible in 2005 but not quite as bad as the rest of the group. And there's Freddie Bynum, who joins Gil and Joseph as the only other player in the 2000s. Joseph slides into the No. 2 spot on the list, and he also has the lowest slugging percentage of all nine players. Not only could Joseph end up at the very top (or bottom) of this list, but he could complete the season without driving in a single run. That's... insanely difficult to do.

Catcher is a demanding position; there's no arguing that. So it's not surprising that generally teams' worst offensive options get stuck there. For example, the league average shortstop in 2016 has a wRC+ of 93. That's second lowest (not counting pitchers), above catcher at 87. Caleb Joseph, meanwhile, has a wRC+ of 9 -- the very worst in all of baseball (min. 100 PAs).

It's been a painful year for Joseph, both at the plate and behind it. He still has a very good and accurate arm and is an above average pitch framer, but if he's even close to this bad offensively again, he might not find himself in the majors for much longer.


Anonymous said...

I'll take an above-average defensive catcher who can't hit, over a below-average defensive catcher who hits for a ton of power. I realized this during the Chris Hoiles era. Excellent bat, but the worst pair of hands I ever saw. He dropped nearly every pitch he caught; or at least it sure seemed that way. So many games were lost because he couldn't catch.

Roger said...

Caleb did hit some at AAA so he may be able to bounce back. I have to believe his injury had a profound effect on his hitting and wonder if it might possibly still be bothering him or, at least, causing him to change his mechanics.

Elie Waitzer said...

He really hasn't been able to square up many balls hard (look at the drop off in Hard% this year), which is a shame given that he needs only to be a replacement level bat to bring serious value based on his framing/throwing/blocking skills.

Also, good lord that Juan Bell season is beyond awful. Of his 36 hits 9 were infield hits, and his 26 OPS+ is the worst of any batter w 200+ ABs in Orioles Expansion Era history. JJ Hardy's 54 OPS+ in 2015 is pretty close, and shockingly bad for a hitter of his caliber.

Minh said...

I'm amazed Izturis didn't show up on this...

tony2302 said...

why do i have this feeling that Caleb is going to come to the plate either early in a game or as a no choice AB in an extra inning game THIS year(playoff maybe?) and hit a multi run homer to win a game for the O's? it would be a fitting way tho wouldn't it?