FanGraphs projects massive improvement for Angels catchers

Mar 6, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Angels catcher Logan O'Hoppe (14) throws down to first
Mar 6, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Angels catcher Logan O'Hoppe (14) throws down to first / Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels had one of MLB's worst catching situations in 2022. Max Stassi was at the forefront of this, as he slashed .180/.267/.303 with nine home runs and 30 RBI in 102 games along with defense that regressed. Kurt Suzuki, the regular backup, slashed .180/.266/.295 with four home runs and 10 RBI in 51 games. The Angels also saw players like Matt Thaiss and Chad Wallach catch a little bit and struggle.

The Angels were 29th in fWAR for catchers last season at -1.1. Stassi was worth 0.0 fWAR and Suzuki was worth -0.8 fWAR. While things couldn't get much worse production-wise, FanGraphs projects a pretty sizeable improvement from Angels catchers in 2023.

FanGraphs projects major improvement from Angels catchers in 2023

FanGraphs is projecting the Angels climb from 29th in fWAR for catchers to 18th. This is still below average, but going from the second-worst team to essentially middle of the pack, I think Angels fans will take it. The best part is, there's potential for this group to be even better.

Dan Szymborski is expecting the Angels to split time with Logan O'Hoppe and Stassi. I believe that if O'Hoppe does beat Matt Thaiss out for the other catcher spot next to Stassi (which is no guarantee), that he'll get a bulk of the playing time. He's far better offensively even with his inexperience, and offers the Angels a much higher ceiling at the plate.

Defensively O'Hoppe isn't perfect, but he should be good enough to stick behind the plate most of the time. I have full confidence that if Phil Nevin chooses him over Thaiss he'll be just fine on both sides of the ball.

FanGraphs is projecting a fairly modest .241/.323/.402 slash line for O'Hoppe and expect him to be worth 1.5 fWAR. I wouldn't be surprised at all if he had closer to a .750 or even .775 OPS instead of the .723 they're projecting, but it's obviously hard to predict anything considering he's only had 16 MLB at-bats.

Even if O'Hoppe has the year FanGraphs is expecting, that's a two-win improvement right there over what the Angels had behind the plate last season.

Improvements like these, even with O'Hoppe likely not being a star on day one, are what will help the Angels win more games and get back to the postseason.

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