Continuing our countdown of the 15 most fantasy relevant Angels for the upcoming season with number 14, new catcher Chris Iannetta. During his 2011 season with the Colorado Rockies, Iannetta hit .238 with a .370 OBP and .414 SLG. He would hit 14 home runs during the season, with 51 runs scored, 55 RBI, and 6 stolen bases in 426 plate appearances. Iannetta has shown excellent patience at the plate and good power in his swing while earning a reputation as a cerebral catcher who works well with pitching staffs. The Angels traded for Iannetta this offseason to upgrade the anemic offensive output of their catchers over the past several seasons. However, this will be Iannetta’s first season away from the hitter friendly confines of Coors Field, and there are some questions concerning durability (Iannetta missed time in 2011 and has seen more than 400 plate appearances only twice in six seasons. So how will he adjust to life on the West coast?
As the target of a trade this offseason, Iannetta will be the first in line for catching duties in 2012. There will be questions for Iannetta to answer, however, if he hopes to stay in control of the position. Chief among them: How will leaving Coors Field affect Iannetta’s production? Over his career, Iannetta has a .262/.377/.492 batting line at Coors field, but just .208/.338/.369 everywhere else. Some of that can be explained away by the fact that road numbers are naturally lower than they are at home, but how much will a change of scenery hurt Iannetta? He has the tools to be better than his .707 career OPS away from Colorado, as he’s capable of drawing walks (he has a career 13.9% walk rate) and has legitimate power that can clear the fence in any park. However, batting average will be a concern, as he has only hit better than .250 twice in his six seasons. He will also be dealing with adjustments to a new venue and a completely new pitching staff. Some projections for Iannetta tend to lean towards a conservative year.
- ZiPS: .223/.348/.390, 38 R, 12 HR, 47 RBI, 3 SB, 380 PA
- Fans: .241/.350/.411, 61 R, 16 HR, 67 RBI, 4 SB, 469 PA
- Bill James: .249/.371/.456, 56 R, 18 HR, 64 RBI, 4 SB, 455 PA
ZiPS is the only projection that has Iannetta playing less than 100 games this year, which would mean the catching position would be a platoon, with Iannetta playing little more than every other day. It’s unlikely, barring injuries or Hank Conger finding some magic pills to improve his defense, that Iannetta won’t get the majority of the playing time behind the plate. Still, he’s had issues with missing time over the last several seasons, and that will have to be taken into account until he proves he can stay upright for the majority of a season.
The Hangout View: Iannetta is going to get the majority of playing time this season behind the plate, since his bat dwarfs anything the Angels have had back there for years. His power numbers will likely dip without the benefit of playing half his games in the thin air of Coors Field, but he’ll still get some big pops in. Hitting in a lineup as stacked as the Angels will give Iannetta plenty of opportunities to swing freely, and he’ll put up some decent numbers as a result. However, he’ll get pushed down the order because of the depth of power in the lineup, and won’t get as many opportunities as a result. As for drafting him, he is probably worth a late draft pick if you find yourself in need of an extra catcher to give you some power numbers over the course of the season. Our prediction for his line this season looks like:
- .230/.360/.405, 40 R, 11 HR, 42 RBI, 5 SB, 475 PA