As you may have gathered from the mentions elsewhere, Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projections are out. One of the first projections I flipped to – or, more precisely: Ctrl + F’d to – is Robinson Chirinos’. He intrigues me and he seems to intrigue the Rays too if Chaim Bloom’s response is any indication:
It’s no secret how much we value versatility. But while Chirinos can play the infield, we’re most impressed by his catching ability and the way he carries himself playing one of the more difficult positions in the field. To have taken to that role so quickly, and to care the way he does about handling a staff and running a game, says a lot about how he is made up. He also shows potential as a hitter, and we feel he has a chance to help us a lot in the future.
So, imagine my delight when PECOTA projects a rather solid line for Chirinos right out of the chute: .261/.369/.455. That’s pretty good from any position, but catcher? Forget about it, consider that Prospectus has the league average catcher at .248/.321/.379 last season, leaving Chirinos with at least a .013 point advantage across the board. Impressive stuff, except some parts of this post are lies.
Prospectus does not have Chirinos projected at .261/.369/.455; Prospectus has Chirinos projected at .276/.360/.471. Even better – so why the deceit? Because the line everyone, from you to me to your mother would have taken from Chirinos belongs to someone hated in the fan base – Kelly Shoppach – and it’s not a projection, but rather how he hit left-handers last season. Folks are so quick to dismiss Shoppach from the roster for flavor of the month candidates like Jose Lobaton and Nevin Ashley that they forget Shoppach has utility to this roster and provided value last season.
Do not dismiss him as you would various roster filler; instead treat him like a flawed, but useful player. He should add value if he is on the Rays when the season opens. If he is elsewhere, he should bring back some value, perhaps not great value, but he is a legitimate big league player and one who deserves a job.
As an aside: Chirinos’ comparables are Chris Ianetta, Carlos Ruiz (gee, wonder where the Rays got that comparison from), and Todd Helton. He is projected to finish with an equal TAv to Dustin Pedroia, Billy Butler, and Carlos Pena.