Jerry Manuel hinted at the Mets starting catcher today, and consistent with his previous personnel decisions and general philosophies about baseball, he was wrong. Omir Santos hit perhaps the least likely seven homeruns in Mets history last season, but that doesn't warrant a starting gig, even among the in-house options. Consider these CHONE projections for wOBA:
- Omir Santos: .289
- Josh Thole .321
- Henry Blanco .285
The Mets will probably send Josh Thole to the Chris Coste catching clinic in AAA, which leaves a simple choice between offensively identical players, Blanco and Santos. Neither can hit very well, Blanco is old and lacks contact skills, but had the better season last year. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Santos swings freely at fastballs, rarely walking, but connecting for the occasional homerun. Strictly choosing a hitter, Blanco's track record and more stable plate discipline outweighs Omir's illusory clutch hitting (actually -2 runs in the clutch, per fangraphs).
That leaves a simple question: "who is the better fielder?", which really is no a question at all. At 38, Blanco probably can't and won't catch a full season or even the majority of the reps, but if someone has to hold Thole's seat before a midseason call-up it should be Blanco, with Santos a step away from AAA.