Colorado Rockies: Prioritizing defense over offense behind the plate
Colorado Rockies fans have been clamoring for the organization to make some key changes to improve the offensive production. With all of the holes up and down the lineup and multiple players in AAA Albuquerque putting up good numbers, the calls for some moves seem to be getting louder and more frequent.
One of those voids in the lineup has come from the catcher’s spot where Chris Iannetta and Tony Wolters are 24th in WAR in all of baseball for that position. The two catchers are batting a combined .180 with 6 HRs and 18 RBIs in 49 games (for comparison, those numbers are worse than Ian Desmond). Wolters, who still has minor league options, has been the worst of the two. He is third to last among all catchers in offensive WAR, where his slash line has been atrocious at .130/.247/.217 with 2 HRs and 7 RBIs in 69 at-bats.
More from Rox Pile
- A Colorado Rockies Thanksgiving
- Colorado Rockies: What if Todd Helton had played football instead?
- Colorado Rockies: Charlie Blackmon out for the season
- Colorado Rockies: Injuries shift look of roster ahead of Dodgers series
- Colorado Rockies: Has Sean Bouchard earned a second look in 2023?
This has lead to many, myself included, wanting the Rockies to call up Tom Murphy who has been lighting up the scoreboard in AAA Albuquerque. Murphy is currently hitting .295/.365/.647 with 11 HRs and 31 RBIs in 36 games.
The issue is the defensive struggles for Murphy. Murphy has committed 5 errors and has 4 passed balls in those 36 games behind the plate. Wolters and Iannetta have excelled, throwing out 36% of base runners, only committing 4 errors and 3 passed balls, and have caught a low (by Rockies’ standards) 4.40 team ERA.
Wolters has been a key catalyst for those numbers as he is fourth in all of baseball and first among backup catchers in Defensive WAR. A prime example of his defensive prowess was his hustle to back up first base that ended Monday night’s game against the Dodgers where he nabbed Matt Kemp after he reached base on an error.
This Rockies team is built around (I can’t believe I am saying this) pitching and defense. With the Major League’s third best defense in fielding percentage and errors, and eighth best road ERA, it looks like the Rockies will live or die by limiting mistakes and trying to scratch out enough runs to win.
Next: A look back at some of the 1st round draft picks from the Dan O'Dowd era
So, as long as Murphy keeps making errors in the minors, and Wolters continues his superb defensive play in the majors, Bud Black will continue to live with a gapping hole in the bottom of the order.