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Should Rutschman stay at catcher?

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58 minutes ago, Tony-OH said:

After a slow start, Witt has slashed .327/.375/.442/.817 over his last 11 games. 

He must have been doing as badly as Henderson. That only brought him up to a .664 OPS.   No power yet and the AZL has that nice air.  

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3 hours ago, Sessh said:

I can certainly understand this view, but I am still against putting him there full time IF his hit tool is as good as it's projected to be because it's simply too risky to put all your eggs in that basket. If Severino, for example, is still here and has taken the full-time catcher role and run with it at an above average or elite level, I would not trade him to make room for Rutschman. Only way I have him back there full time is if our catching situation is bleak or inadequate. If he played any other position, I would not view it this way. This is most of the reason I wasn't all that thrilled about taking a catcher first overall because it's just too risky if he's going to be our best player or even a generational player.

I am well aware that I am early in bringing this up, but the thing is most of the time, people are too late in bringing it up and prefer to wait for the catcher to suffer injuries first so he's not the same anymore and then make the move. If Rutschman is just an average hitter in the majors, then all of this is moot since if he did end up being a casualty of his job early, it wouldn't threaten to tank the entire team and wouldn't be impossible to replace. If the guy proves to be an irreplaceable offensive asset, you're just rolling the dice by playing him there every game and I'm not much of a gambler. It's not like he's going to forget how to play catcher if he's only doing it part-time. It would be more about protecting your assets proactively instead of waiting for something to happen that forces your hand because it may be too late by the time that happens.

 

Just because a player is drafted at a certain position doesn't mean they must play there all the time no matter what. Machado was drafted as a SS, but turns out he's a MUCH better third baseman. He's played more games at 3B than SS in San Diego and he's a gold glover there. He didn't forget how to play SS, he's just much better at third from what we saw when he was here. He is a SS/3B. Rutschman would be a C/1B who could still be traded (if we choose not to extend him in the future) as a C. He's not going to forget how to do it and I'm not suggesting he never catch again, but maybe once or twice a week instead of every day unless our catching situation is a mess. If defense is all Rutschman is going to bring as a major leaguer, then my point is moot.

Craig Biggio was moved from catcher to 2B after only three seasons because he was too valuable a player to the team offensively to put at such a high risk position, but moving to second base is difficult. If Rutschman is as good as advertised offensively and could go somewhere other than first base, great. Moving players off of catcher to another position to protect them early in a career is not unheard of, but certainly not common. Whether or not it's common shouldn't be an indicator of whether or not it's a good idea, though.

I imagine he will catch every day, though. I only hope it doesn't backfire on us and that if he is a significant offensive asset, the team will change it's approach to him.

Biggio wasn't moved because he was so valuable offensively.  It had a lot to do with his defense, IIRC.  Also, a catcher can sustain a serious injury playing the position part time.  I do agree that if he's an elite offensive player that I would consider avoiding the daily grind and the wear and tear of the position.

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2 minutes ago, RZNJ said:

Biggio wasn't moved because he was so valuable offensively.  It had a lot to do with his defense, IIRC.  Also, a catcher can sustain a serious injury playing the position part time.  I do agree that if he's an elite offensive player that I would consider avoiding the daily grind and the wear and tear of the position.

AFAIK, Biggio was moved off of catcher to preserve his legs which was his biggest asset; speed. He was an all-star catcher before the change, but did not want it to erode his athletic abilities.

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3 hours ago, RZNJ said:

Biggio wasn't moved because he was so valuable offensively.  It had a lot to do with his defense, IIRC.  Also, a catcher can sustain a serious injury playing the position part time.  I do agree that if he's an elite offensive player that I would consider avoiding the daily grind and the wear and tear of the position.

Depends. If Rutschman is a .330 type hitter and has 100 Walk potential, then i would consider moving him off catcher, but as was the case with Wieters, you wont know what you have until he's in the majors already. 

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3 hours ago, Sessh said:

AFAIK, Biggio was moved off of catcher to preserve his legs which was his biggest asset; speed. He was an all-star catcher before the change, but did not want it to erode his athletic abilities.

Biggio allowed 434 SBs in 392 games started at catcher. Just a 23% CS rate. He definitely wasn't a good catch and throw guy. 

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5 hours ago, Luke-OH said:

Biggio allowed 434 SBs in 392 games started at catcher. Just a 23% CS rate. He definitely wasn't a good catch and throw guy. 

While that is pretty awful, I can't find a single source even mentioning this as a reason for the change. This article has some interesting information about how it went down. He was an all-star catcher in his last year at the position, so it doesn't seem as though his defensive ability was looked down upon much if at all.

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Here's another article from 1992.

Quote

Biggio's shift from National League All-Star catcher to second base is most unusual, however, a move the Astros were willing to take only because of Biggio's exceptional talents.

He has averaged 22 stolen bases per season the last three years.

"Running is a big part of Craig's game, and it didn't make much sense to let him lose this," Astros General Manager Bill Wood said Sunday before the Astros played the Atlanta Braves before their largest home crowd this spring - 6,223 at Osceola County Stadium.

 

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6 minutes ago, Sessh said:

While that is pretty awful, I can't find a single source even mentioning this as a reason for the change. This article has some interesting information about how it went down. He was an all-star catcher in his last year at the position, so it doesn't seem as though his defensive ability was looked down upon much if at all.

Defensive ability has very little to do with all star selections. 

To get back to the main subject of this thread. 

I'll make an analogy.

Playing Rutschman at 1B instead of C would be like taking a pitcher who throws 95-98mph and pitches to a 2.50 ERA and telling him to throw it softer 90-93 so he doesn't risk shortening his career, resulting in a 4.00 ERA. 

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10 hours ago, Luke-OH said:

Playing Rutschman at 1B instead of C would be like taking a pitcher who throws 95-98mph and pitches to a 2.50 ERA and telling him to throw it softer 90-93 so he doesn't risk shortening his career, resulting in a 4.00 ERA. 

I don't think that's a great analogy since a pitcher with a 4.00 ERA is much less effective than one with a 2.50 ERA. Bad mechanics are at the root of pitcher injuries. At least, that's what it seems like to me. Again, I am not advocating Rutschman never play catcher again. I am saying if he is an elite offensive asset, he should not be there full-time. I'm saying he should be a C/1B, NOT only a 1B. No one, not even pitchers, take more physical abuse than catchers do and it's not even close. This unfortunately includes head injuries which we no longer tell guys to play through or shake it off.

Playing your best offensive asset at that position full-time is reckless from a team standpoint especially if you have someone who can play an above average catcher and is not irreplaceable. It's like going off-roading in a limited production Ferrari. Things will probably be fine for awhile, but you will eventually ruin it and it could have been prevented. Doing the same thing in a Corolla isn't so bad because, well, it's a Corolla. They're a dime a dozen.

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Biggio was moved from catcher to protect his legs and one of his better assets, his speed. I don't believe speed is one of Rutschman's biggest selling points. And while the official reasoning for moving Biggio was to protect his other assets, it is made A LOT easier by him not being a top tier defender at the position. Rutschman's ability behind the dish is nearly as big of a selling point as his strengths beside it. If his defense proves worse than reports indicate OR he develops into a true superstar hitter at the big league level that's when I consider moving him. Not until then for me.

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18 minutes ago, Sessh said:

I don't think that's a great analogy since a pitcher with a 4.00 ERA is much less effective than one with a 2.50 ERA. Bad mechanics are at the root of pitcher injuries. At least, that's what it seems like to me. Again, I am not advocating Rutschman never play catcher again. I am saying if he is an elite offensive asset, he should not be there full-time. I'm saying he should be a C/1B, NOT only a 1B. No one, not even pitchers, take more physical abuse than catchers do and it's not even close. This unfortunately includes head injuries which we no longer tell guys to play through or shake it off.

Playing your best offensive asset at that position full-time is reckless from a team standpoint especially if you have someone who can play an above average catcher and is not irreplaceable. It's like going off-roading in a limited production Ferrari. Things will probably be fine for awhile, but you will eventually ruin it and it could have been prevented. Doing the same thing in a Corolla isn't so bad because, well, it's a Corolla. They're a dime a dozen.

It's more like the off-roading is a race you really want to win. The Ferrari is way better than the Corolla, so you have a better chance of winning. And you only have control of and responsibility for the Ferrari for the weekend that you're racing, if the Ferrari is broken then after that it's not your problem anymore.

Also, you don't buy the Ferrari if you aren't going to open it up and use it like you're supposed to use it. If you're going to just drive it in 35 MPH zones because you're afraid of breaking it then you might as well get the Vaughn model, and you probably could have saved some money.

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I view it as you have 9 positions on the field you have to fill. In a perfect world, you'd be above average at as many possible positions to be a WS contender. If you move a guy off of catcher to like first base, who potentially could be the best in the league for a chunk of his career at catcher, you still need to find another guy be that above average guy at catcher. Unless you consider catcher a dispensable position and rather focus your resources at other positions.

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56 minutes ago, atomic said:

If he wasn't going to be a catcher why would we draft him #1 overall?

Didn’t he also have the best bat?

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