Devil Rays 7, Tiggers 1.
Dioner Navarro was 3-5 last night to raise his average above .200 for the first time (.201) since May 15. He also hit his 4th home in the last three weeks, after only hitting one in the first three and a half months.

Once considered the top catching prospect in baseball, when he was in the Yankee’s organization, Navi is in just his first full major-league season, after playing parts of each of the past three seasons. Despite the hype, Navarro has yet to show his potential at the plate. In addition to his .201 average, he only has a .259 OBP and .316 SLG. His .575 OPS is the third worst number in all baseball for players with at least 250 plate appearances.

Navarro is still only 23, which is about 18 in catcher’s years. Let’s take a look at how Navi’s contemporaries performed in their 23-year old season. Each of these catcher’s have made an all-star appearance since 2000. In many of these cases, the player split their season between more than one level. We tried to pick the level that was most indicative of their season. We used major league numbers if they played a more than a few weeks at that level. In the case of Mike Piazza, his season was split evenly between two levels so we included the numbers for both.


CATCHER
Level
AVG
HR
RBI
OBP
SLG
OPS
K
BB
D. Navarro
MLB
.201
5
25
.259
.316
.575
45
21
J. Mauer
MLB
.347
13
84
.429
.507
.936
54
79
I. Rodriguez
MLB
.303
12
67
.327
.449
.776
48
16
R. Martin
MLB
.282
10
65
.355
.436
.791
57
45
B. McCann
MLB
.267
12
65
.317
.451
768
52
24
J. Lopez
MLB
.245
13
35
.299
.419
.718
61
17
B. Santiago MLB .248 10 46 .282 .362 .644 82 24
C. Johnson MLB .251 11 39 .351 .410 .761 71 46
J. Kendall MLB .294 8 49 .391 .434 .826 53 49
R. Hernandez
MLB
.279
3
21
.363
.397
.760
11
18
Pierzynski
MLB
.307
2
11
.354
.45
.809
14
5
J. Posada
AAA
.240
11
48
.308
.406
.714
81
32
M Lieberthal AAA .281 6 42 .388 .432 .820 26 44
V. Martinez
AA
.336
22
85
.417
.576
.993
62
58
P. LoDuca
AA
.246
1
8
.339
.302
.641
25
26
J. Varitek
AA
.224
10
44
.340
.361
.701
126
61
M. Piazza
AA/AAA
.350
23
90
.412
.587
.999
75
50
J. Girardi AA .272 7 41 .330 .375 .705 51 29
D. Miller A .212 1 26 .281 .265 .546 44 31


At first we were surprised how many of these catchers were in the major leagues at the age of 23. That should be a strong indication for future success from Navi, as reaching the majors as a catcher at such a young age is rare (Shawn Riggans is still considered a catching prospect at the age of 27). With Joe Mauer and Ivan Rodriguez being the obvious exceptions, most of these catchers posted average numbers, at best, even at the lower levels. The one constant throughout all these numbers is the excellent strikeout-to-walk ratios. In almost every instance, the numbers are close to 1-to-1 which is another strong indicator of future success for a young hitter. While Navarro’s numbers are down this season, his career strikeout-to-walk ratios prior to this season were 229:179 (minors) and 72:51 (majors).

While we would have liked to have seen an OPS closer to .700-.750 this season, Navi is still very young and history has shown that numbers posted at a young age are not reflective of numbers posted later for catchers.

DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA

  • Jon Switzer is now the only lefty in the Rays bullpen and will be relied on more heavily than earlier this season when he was recalled from Durham. [TBO]
  • With the promotion of Jon Switzer, the Rays will continue to employ only three hitters on the bench. On of those would be the backup catcher Josh Paul who is not likely to be used in games in which he does not start, leaving Joe Maddon with two pinch-hitting and substitution options at the end of games. [Devil Rays]
  • We are not sold on James Shield’s clubhouse nickname. We need to come up with something good. Scott Kazmir is “Kid K” and Andy Sonnanstine is “The Duke”. Shields? [TBO]
  • Scott Kazmir, who goes to the mound this afternoon for the Rays, has been using a more simplified approach when taking the mound and Joe Maddon attributes that to his recent success. [TBO]

“I’m just seeing a very simple approach to what he’s doing right now and I like it,” Maddon said. “You just really want to get to that point where you can really leave your physical mechanics on the sideline and just go out and pitch and rely on your mental mechanics.

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