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Monday, July 2, 2012

Did Jarrod Saltalamacchia Get Snubbed?

BOSTON, MA - MAY 26:   Jarrod Saltalamacchia #...
 Jarrod Saltalamacchia #39 of the Boston Red Sox is greeted at home plate by David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox after hitting a home run against the Tampa Bay Rays in the bottom of the ninth inning at Fenway Park on May 26, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox beat the Rays 3-2. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
We all know that the MLB All Star Game has become as much a popularity contest as it is a showcase of the best players in the game right now. Certainly most of the star appointed are deserving, but the vote tends to be weighed as much on the past as it is the present. Every year there are a handful of players worthy of the honor that aren't recognized because their track record isn't as long as some. Many think this is the case with Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

There's no doubt Salty has been an integral part of the Red Sox season to this point, but is he truly an All Star over Joe Mauer, Matt Wieters or Mike Napoli? In an attempt to find comfort, I embarked on a statistical adventure. Here's what I was able to come up with.

The real toss up is between Saltalamacchia and Napoli. Joe Mauer is clearly the superior talent this season. His .324/.414/.445 line and 2.5 WAR is evidence of that. The power isn't there, but his all around value is better than the other three by a fair amount.

Matt Wieters is one of the better young talents in the league. His 2.0 WAR says as much and his defense is among the best in the entire game. His .263/.333/.431 line isn't spectacular, but he has 10 HR, 39 RBI and he's thrown out 55% of base runners (15 of 27).

Mike Napoli hits very, very long homeruns, plays for a first place team and has been around a bit longer than Salty, but is he the better catcher this season, the one that is supposed to dictate the All Star Game?

According to WAR, he's not. His 0.9 is a full half run lower than Salty's at 1.4. Maybe that doesn't seem like a lot but it is considerable. WAR is far from the only thing to look at though. The all around package has to be looked at to determine who has been the better backstop this season.

Here are the basic offensive numbers for Saltalamacchia and Napoli.

Salty- .254/.302/.537 15 HR, 37 RBI

Napoli- .235/.335/.438 12 HR, 30 RBI

As you can see, the only offensive category Napoli has been better is OBP, an important feat, but not a deal breaker when it comes to overall production. The other aspect is the defense.

It's pretty well known that Salty could use some work throwing our base runners, but Napoli isn't a whole lot better. The former has thrown out 9 of 45 (20%) compared to 5 of 22 (23%) for the latter. Should that 3% with less than half the sample size weigh heavily? I wouldn't think so.

Salty has made six errors to Napoli's two as well, but he's also caught over 80 innings more this season. I would say there is a slight advantage in Napoli's favor defensively. I don't think it is enough to outweigh the clear offensive advantage for Saltalamacchia.

My feeling is, based on the numbers, Jarrod Saltalamacchia should have been the third catcher on the All Star roster or at the very least, he should have been on the final vote. He isn't though, and there's nothing we can do now. It's up to the fans to support their players, and in this case we didn't do enough.

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