Chris Iannetta: 2014 Angels Year in Review

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Halos catcher Chris Iannetta saw the majority of the time behind the plate in 2013, but didn’t impress with the bat. He hit .225, the lowest since becoming an Angel, and lowest since 2010, when he played 61 games with Colorado. He also struck out for 100 times for the first time in his career. He also had one of his worst seasons on defense as well. Coming into 2014, he needed a bounce back season all together and boy did he get it.

The Good: Iannetta had a career year at the plate since becoming a full time catcher. His .252/.373/.392 slash line was his best since his first full season in 2008. He has been a full time catcher since coming to Anaheim, but back in those days he split time between catcher and third base. He has lost a lot of his power since leaving Coors Field, which is to be expected, but he was still able to hit 22 doubles, the most since 2008.

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After striking out 100 times last season, he was below that this season at 91. It is not the best situation for him to strike out that many times but anything less than the round number of 100 is good.

Iannetta is the type of player where you hope you get great defense and anything offensively is extra and he made that statement come true in 2014. He had his best season defensively since becoming at Angel. He threw out 30 percent of potential runners, and to put that into perspective, the league average was 27 percent. This is off of a 2013 campaign in which he allowed 84 stolen bases while only throwing out 20. A huge improvement behind the plate for Iannetta.

The Bad: Iannetta was able to knock out 22 doubles, but he lost his major power stroke that he had back in Colorado. He was able to only hit seven home runs, the least amount of his career when playing in at least 100 games. That is something to keep an eye on going forward as he will be a free-agent after next season.

Chris was great at throwing out runners but what about framing? That has become a huge part of the game and the analytics and every strike counts. Most broadcasts have a K-zone on the screen and you can see if the pitch was really supposed to be a strike or not. General managers see those as well, and also know who is the best at it. Iannetta was not one of the best. He was actually one of the worst in baseball.

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He was in the bottom third of catchers at “stealing strikes”. Instead of actually stealing them, Iannetta was giving them away. He gave 30 balls to opposing batters that actually should have been strikes according to a chart by Mark Simon of ESPN. An above average strike rate is what you want, but he was the polar opposite. He was 64 strikes below average in 2014. That is compared to back up catcher Hank Conger, who was the best in baseball when receiving at least 3,000 pitches, at 182 strikes above average.

The Future: The 2015 season is a contract year for the 6’0″ catcher out of the smallest U.S. state, Rhode Island. Scouts and other teams saw that he had an above average season, being a three win player in 2014, but they want consistency. Chris will turn 32 just after Opening Day on April 8 and this is the time players start to see a steady decline.

The FanGraphs steamer projects Iannetta to have a below average season at the plate, even worse than 2013. They are relying on his defense to be most of his production to the team and end up being a two win player when all is set and done. We will see how often Iannetta plays, but if he gets to 100 games again in 2015, he will have to produce for a team looking to make it back to the postseason.