By Tommy Rancel
Going into the 2010 season, Miguel Montero was considered a top-10 fantasy catcher. At Bloomberg Sports, we liked Montero’s chances just as much as anyone else. After belting 16 home runs and driving in 59 runs in just 425 at-bats last season, the expectations of a bigger season seemed attainable.
Unfortunately, Montero’s season is now in limbo, as we learned this weekend that he has a torn meniscus in his right knee. He will undergo further tests to determine if there is any more damage. Currently, there is no timetable for his return, but MLB.com is reporting that he will need surgery. At the very least, he’s on the 15-day disabled list.
With Montero on the shelf, the Diamondbacks will turn to former starter Chris Snyder to handle the workload behind the plate.
Snyder went into 2009 as Arizona’s primary backstop; however he suffered a back injury and was never able to regain his spot thanks to Montero’s breakout. The Diamondbacks tried shipping him to Toronto this off-season – a deal they are now lucky they didn’t make. It’s unlikely that Snyder will be able to permanently pry the position back from Montero’s grip. But for now, Snyder is definitely in play as a fantasy option, especially in a deeper mixed league.
From 2006 to 2008, Snyder racked up nearly 1,000 plate appearances for the D-Backs. Over the three-year span he averaged .251/.346/.438 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 12 home runs a season. An OPS of .785 with double-digit home runs represent solid numbers for a catcher. Of the 29 catchers with at least 300 PAs last season, only six had an OPS greater than .785.
Due to the injury, and subsequent decrease in playing time, Snyder had a down season in 2009. He appeared in just 61 games, hitting .200/.333/.358. Those numbers are ugly in raw form; however, consider these stats as well.
Despite the Mendoza level-like batting average of .200, Snyder still reached base one-third of the time. Thanks to a career walk rate of 12%, he doesn’t need to hit .300 to get on base at a decent rate. Another thing to consider is his batting average on balls in play (BABIP). His 2010 BABIP of .237 represents a 37-point drop from his career .274 mark. With some regression, his batting average could see a significant rebound.
If you own Montero, especially in a mixed league of 12 teams or more, or an NL-only league, Snyder is a must-get. He should be available on the waiver wire in most leagues, but act quickly if you haven’t already snagged him. For non-Montero owners, Snyder is still worth a flier, especially since Montero needs surgery and the position is so physically demanding. At a thin position, Snyder provides a decent bat with a proven track record. If nothing else, grab him before the Montero owner in your league does, setting up a potential trade.
For more on Chris Snyder and other potential waiver wire catchers check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy kits