Mar 25, 2015; Salt River Pima-Maricopa, AZ, USA; Colorado Rockies catcher Nick Hundley (4) grounds out in the third inning against the San Francisco Giants at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
As the season gets underway, RoxPile.com is making some fun (but completely unqualified!) predictions about how members of the Colorado Rockies will fare this summer. In this edition: Nick Hundley.
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The Colorado Rockies made a splash this offseason (well, as much of a splash as this team can make, I guess) when they signed catcher Nick Hundley to a two-year, $6.25 million deal to become the starter behind the plate.
Hundley doesn’t have the power of catcher-turned-whatever Wilin Rosario, but he does provide significantly better defense and works well with pitchers, two things that Rockies have focused on as being critical to their long-term success (and good on them for realizing that).
Anyways, Hundley brings a lot of good to the table. Let’s see what’s in store for him this summer.
What The Numbers Say
FanGraphs lists various projection systems, which you can learn more about here.
The projections are very kind to Hundley and seem to think Coors Field will be good to his offensive numbers; in his career, he’s slashed .239/.294/.387, and yet projections rank him around .260/.308/.413 for this summer.
All projections seem to believe he’ll catch between 75-90 games, which might be wise for someone about to turn 32 years old (see the issues with Chris Iannetta in Los Angeles right now), and yet I think he could assert himself as the slightly-more-everyday catcher over McKenry (and Rosario) than catching in just 80-ish games.
Either way, the Rockies signed him relatively cheaper than they could have, probably considering his ineffectiveness in Baltimore at the end of last season after he was traded by the Padres, and everyone seems to think he’ll have close to a career year in offensive output.
Call to the Pen
I don’t care about offensive output with Hundley, to be honest.
I’m more concerned about his defense behind the plate and the way he works with the pitching staff.
With Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, Corey Dickerson, Nolan Arenado, Justin Morneau, Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu starting, and Wilin Rosario, Drew Stubbs, and my man, Rafael Ynoa, on the bench, Hundley doesn’t need to do very much at the plate.
He’s thrown out 28% of baserunners in his career and has logged a 2.9 dWAR.
If he can work with the pitchers and help create a culture of ground balls and low-scoring outings at Coors Field (things Rosario couldn’t do, despite his bat), whatever Hundley gives us offensively is a bonus.
In the best-case scenario, I think he plays 100 games, hits about .270, but most importantly, brings the team ERA down from the abysmal 4.84 it was in 2014 to something (slightly) more respectable.
The worst-case scenario is that Hundley’s signing doesn’t impact the pitching staff at all, or, he regresses in some unforeseen way and has a very poor defensive year to match Rosario’s past few seasons in some bizarre circumstance.
He can hit .230 and still be considered a success (at least, I think) if he can work with pitchers and improve the staff. If he doesn’t do that, and if the pitching staff fails to respond to a veteran catcher like we all hope it does, that is the worst-case scenario for Hundley this season.
Well, it’s promising through the first few games that the Rockies began the season on a 13-inning scoreless streak and have allowed two runs in 18 total innings. But, good vibes aside, that’s an extremely small sample size.
I think Hundley will develop the staff – with the help of new pitching coach Steve Foster and new bullpen coach Darren Holmes, who I believe is a very underrated addition – and he’ll hit about .250/.300/.395 in the process.
But, again, don’t judge him by his offensive numbers; judge him by what the pitchers do this year.
Give us your predictions!