Coming into the 2014 season, Anthony Recker did not figure to have much of a role beyond being the backup to young catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud. After a fairly successful 2013 as the second catcher, Recker looked to follow it up with an even better campaign. His 2014 season was characterized by timely, unexpected hits.
Recker began the season with a boom. On April 12, only his second start of the season, he hit a go-ahead home run in the top of the 13th inning in Anaheim. The rest of his April was rather quiet, despite his solid 123 wRC+ in limited playing time.
In May, he appeared in more than half of the team's games, starting 12 of them. Despite this, he had an abysmal performance at the plate for the month, posting a dreadful 42 wRC+ in 51 plate appearances. He amassed only four extra base hits during this time. With his struggles running concurrent with d'Arnaud's, the Mets needed to find a way to eliminate the offensive black hole the catcher position was creating.
On June 7, after a loss in San Francisco, the Mets sent d'Arnaud to Triple-A and recalled Taylor Teagarden, seemingly leaving Recker as the starter by default. However, with Recker's ongoing struggles, Teagarden received more of the starts. Then, on June 24, d'Arnaud was recalled, ending Recker's short opportunity to start games. From this point on, his playing time diminished.
During the month of July, Recker only had 17 plate appearances. In August, the trend continued as he only had 23 plate appearances. This month was different, however, because of what he did when he played. On the 11th in Philadelphia, the Mets' final game of the season in Citizens Bank Park, he hit a go-ahead three-run home run in the top of the 7th, leading the Mets to victory. Then, on the 31st, Recker launched a tie-breaking three-run home run in the bottom of the 6th against the Phillies, once again propelling the Mets to a win.
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In September, his playing time increased every so slightly. On the 7th in Cincinnati, consistent with the rest of his season, Recker hit a go-ahead two-run home run in the top of the 6th, putting the Mets ahead for good. He performed to a 169 wRC+ in 29 plate appearances for the month, finishing the season strongly.
Overall, Recker's 2014 was marked by sporadic playing time and limited offensive production. Even with low expectations for a backup catcher, his final line of .201/.246/.374 with a 33.9 strikeout percentage and 75 wRC+ was not very impressive, especially compared to his 2013. However, his penchant for the go-ahead home run gave Terry Collins a reason to give him playing time to occasionally spell the budding Travis d'Arnaud. Recker's defense was solid throughout the season, throwing out runners at a 37% clip, a number way above league average. His framing, on the other hand, was among the worst in baseball, according to Baseball Prospectus. Compared to other backup catchers from around the majors, his performance in 2014 was above average for the amount of playing time he received.
Recker is set for arbitration this winter. Even with catching prospect Kevin Plawecki waiting in the wings, Recker will most likely return to the Mets in a backup role in 2015.
Desired 2015 role: Backup catcher who plays about once a week and performs well.
Expected 2015 role: Backup catcher who plays sparingly and struggles when called upon.