Last night, Kelly Shoppach had another 0-fer. This time it was an 0-2 night in which he also allowed the go-ahead run to score in the 8th inning on a pitch he made no effort to block with a runner on third.
And there was the double-play groundball with one out and the bases loaded in the second inning. Ironic, because Shoppach, who has struck out 31 times in 79 at bats, would have been better off striking out (for once).
His batting average is now .152. Only Dan Johnson (.115) and Drew Butera (.126) of the Twins are worse among batters in the American League with at least 50 at bats.
Defensively, Shoppach has been pretty good. Opponents have only stolen eight bases in 15 attempts. And thanks to a favorable scoring last night, Shoppach still has yet to allow an official passed ball this season.
According to Fangraphs.com, Shoppach has been worth 2.0 runs to the Rays defensively, over a replacement-level catcher. But offensively, he has cost the Rays 5.9 runs. Still, based on his defense, he has actually been worth 0.1 Wins more than a replacement-level player. In other words, he is still better than the typical 4-A catcher off the street (barely).
Meanwhile, Jose Lobaton, a switch-hitting catcher, is mashing lefties in triple-A. Against southpaws, Lobaton is hitting .371 with a .436 OBP, and is hitting .317 with a .415 OBP overall. Even if he does regress, he can’t be any worse than Shoppach offensively. He is also considered solid defensively. And at age 26, he is not necessarily a prospect that needs more seasoning.
The Rays still owe Shoppach about $2 million for the remaining 108 games. As long as Shoppach is playing well defensively, if his bat shows any life at all, the Rays will probably stick with the veteran. But if improvement doesn’t come soon, they may decide to chop Shopp and give Lobaton an opportunity.