Time to face facts, the Angels will not make the playoffs, their most recent off-season moves have for the most part been an absolute disaster, people may be getting fired… important people. And this type of season usually leads to a lot of pointing fingers and negative criticism by an unhappy fan base.
One of those apparently getting angry fingers pointed at him has been the Iceman, Angels catcher Chris Iannetta. He’s been called un-clutch, a gutless hitter, a bad defender. Hell… even I’ve on occasion ripped the Iceman, sometimes fairly, but mostly unfairly. My apologies to Iannetta for that. “Sorry brother.”
But the truth is… Iannetta’s been what he always has been, a very steady, good professional baseball player.
Allow me to explain…
What’s to like about the Iceman?
How about wOBA? wOBA? Whoa, hold on a second, Dave… what the hell is wOBA? In short… if you’re not a baseball math geek, as I am not, it stands for Weighted On-Base Average, and in short, is a metric that attempts to capture everything there is about hitting and hitting-related related offensive value. At least that’s how my buddy, Halo Hangout staff writer, and Sabermetricophile Mike Hllywa tries to tell me…
Here’s his official explanation exactly as I remember it.
“wOBA, or Weighted On-Base Average combines everything about hitting blah, blah blah, hit by pitch blah, walks, .884x singles + 1.257x doubles blah blah, homers blah, divided by at bats + walks – intentional blah plus sacrifice blah, hit by pitch blah.”
Needless to say Mike’s a really smart guy and I just nod, smile and pretend I understand everything he says. In short, wOBA may be the most important offensive stat there is…
Where does Iannetta rank among the rest of the team? (I’m only including players with at least 100 plate appearances… why… because I can).
Now don’t get me wrong… .a 320 wOBA is considered dead average as far as that stat goes, so he and Hank can also be considered average, whereas Mike Trout may also be considered average on his home world of Krypton.
And how about Iannetta’s supposedly sucky defense?
Well… Iannetta happens to rank 7th all-time for qualified catchers with a career fielding % of .9950 which is incidentally higher than any Molina brother, all 3 of which are top 20 all time, or Jeff Mathis. And where is Hank on the list? He doesn’t yet qualify but his career fielding % is .983 which would put him in the 200-230 range.
Throwing out base runners, Iannetta for most the season has not been very successful but he’s been much better lately, which may have more to do with no longer catching the GAAHRO (gawd-awful-at-holding-runners-on) Tommy Hansen, as well as Scioscia finally getting on his other pitchers who have been GAAHRO.
The one real area where Iannetta does fall short is in Pitch Framing. While Conger has been freakishly good, ranking 3rd in the league this season according to baseballprospectus.com, Iannetta is among the worst.
How about Iceman’s toughness?
Absolutely no question there. Hell, the guy caught Jered Weaver‘s no-hitter last season with a broken forearm… A BROKEN FOREARM!
You may notice in the earlier wOBA table I also included fWAR (Fangraphs: Wins Above Replacement) … now why did I do that? Because when you sort that table by WAR you get this…
So fan favorite and in actuality pretty decent rookie J.B. Shuck sits at 0.1 while Iannetta has a 1.5 fWAR, good for 4th best on the team? Seriously? Yep, seriously.
Attention please, Important Announcement… CHRIS IANNETTA HAS BEEN THE 4TH BEST POSITION PLAYER ON THE TEAM THIS SEASON.
(Let’s also just pause for a moment to look at Mike Trout’s fWAR at this point… seriously… he’s like a major leaguer playing against little- leaguers. And he’s on his way to another 10+ WAR season. Jeeeheeeheeesus! OK back on topic now)
And how about among all catchers in the league? Iannetta’s 22nd out of 63 in WAR.
Bottom line, Iannetta has been underappreciated by many this season. Is he a phenomenal pro baseball player, maybe not… but he ain’t bad… he’s actually pretty good.