Man vs. Machine – Catchers

By Bloomberg Sports //

Throughout All-Star week, Bloomberg Sports will be running head-to-head match-ups, pitting Bloomberg Sports analysis against Keith Hernandez’s decades of wit, wisdom and experience. Check back throughout the week as we cover first-half Bulls and Bears predictions for every position.

Leading off today: Catchers


The Machine (Bloomberg Sports) says:
Brian McCann has been one of the most consistent fantasy batters over the past three seasons. Starring at catcher, always a weak fantasy position, owners could pencil him in for 40 doubles, 20 home runs and 90 RBI. So far in 2010 his numbers are down a bit, with 16 doubles, 10 HR and 37 RBI.

Looking at McCann’s RBI total for 2010 we can see that he is just below the league average.


…while last year McCann’s RBI total was well above league average.


McCann has especially struggled with runners in scoring position so far, posting a .241 batting average in those situations in the first half. If he bounces back in the second half, as we should expect him to, his RBI numbers should increase significantly and help your fantasy team.

McCann’s low counting stat totals for the season have been buoyed by a strong performance in the month of July (he has posted a .905 OPS in the month so far) and they should continue to rise in the second half. He has actually walked significantly more often this season (up to 13.8% of his plate appearances from his career rate of 9.0%) which shows that he’s being more patient at the plate. This patience should help him be a more productive hitter overall and the boost in walk rate is responsible for him scoring 40 runs in the first half (his career high is 68) which is a nice bonus in 5×5 leagues, especially for a catcher.

If you can buy low during the All-Star break, the Bloomberg Sports computer thinks McCann will be a rock behind the plate for your fantasy team in the 2nd half.

The Man (Keith Hernandez) says:

“I think Joe Mauer this year has had a problem with the new stadium. He’s a guy who has won three batting championships. He’s had an OK first half. He hasn’t hit a lot of home runs, a lot of those home runs that were hit at the old ballpark were to the opposite field, and the new ballpark is a lot bigger; they’re being caught. I think he’ll make the adjustment, start hitting line drives and have another big strong finish.”


The Machine says:

If you own him, Miguel Olivo has given you great first-half production. Even so, this might be the perfect time to sell high on the Rockies catcher. Olivo’s first-half batting average of .325 is 76 points above his career average of .249. This is due, in large part, to his .398 batting average on balls in play, a figure which is much higher than the league average, as we can see in the graph below.


Olivo’s career mark in BABIP is .303 and he posted a .305 BABIP last season, so you should expect a large regression to the mean during the second half of the season.


While Olivo is walking more (he’s already set a new career high with 20 walks and is walking in 7.9% of his plate appearances, double his career rate) he is striking out at about the same rate he has established over his career. He’s already scored almost as many runs (42) as last season (51), a number which has been boosted by his high batting average and on-base percentage and which is therefore extremely likely to regress as well.

Olivo set a career high with 23 home runs last year and is at about the same pace with 11 so far this season. The power and walk numbers might be for real but, according to Bloomberg Sports tools, Olivo will have a hard time sustaining his batting average, runs and RBI over the second half of the season. With regression looming, and Chris Iannetta waiting in the wings, now is a perfect time to sell high on Miguel Olivo’s strong first half.

The Man says:

Ronny Paulino has had a terrific first half for the Marlins, he’s hitting over .300; he’s getting a lot of playing time because of the injury to John Baker. Paulino is a player who has never kept himself in great shape. I think the excess playing time in the first half will wear him down in the second half.”

For more on catchers to buy, sell or hold for the second half, check out Bloomberg Sports’ complete suite of fantasy baseball tools.

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