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February 18, 2013 5:00 am
Sure, some catchers can't hit. But are we learning to look on the bright side?
Mark Smith wrote an interesting piece last week about Braves prospect Christian Bethancourt. Bethancourt is, of course, the top defensive catching prospect in the minors and the owner of superhuman pop times. Bethancourt is also an unpolished hitter with a poor plate approach and raw power that has yet to show up in games. Despite the negatives Smith arrived at a logical conclusion by writing that Bethancourt could contribute to a team with his defense even if he never reaches his offensive potential.
Smith’s post about coming to terms with Bethancourt’s offense is just the latest example in what amounts to a paradigm shift in the analytical community regarding defense-first catchers. Think of it in terms of prospect theory: We're no longer looking at what they cost you at the plate, but what they gain you behind it. Teams may be thinking this way, too.