The DH as the backup catcher. Do It. Do it.


Sandy digs up an annihilating precedent, burrowing farrrrrrr into the nether regions of baseball history to identify the 2011 Tigers:


Avila - 130 games caught

VMart - 26 games caught - 112 DH

Santos - 6 games caught (don't know when he was and was not on the roster, but he played two games in April (19/20) ... then didn't appear again until August 25th.  So, most of his games caught were after rosters expanded.

To which Spectator -- about to launch his own blog, a sister site to SSI and MC, if we have anything to say about it -- follows on neatly:

From poking around, it looks like Leyland was cool with burning the DH if he had too, but it looks like he never did.

They did have a utility guy on the roster ready to play C if needed, but you're right -- VMart was the only other true C and also the primary DH.

But!  For the playoffs, they kept Santos as the third catcher.  Didn't want to get exposed at crunch time.  Interesting.

I didn't realize that the 2011 Tigers didn't carry another catcher beyond Aliva and V-Mart.  I especially didn't realize that it wound up costing them zero at-bats.


We had submitted this question to James, and in the first iteration, he found the question annoying:

How feasible is it, in today's game, to carry one catcher with one catcher/DH on the 25-man roster? In 2010, Posada caught 83 games, DH'ed 30 ... in 2006-10, Mauer would DH 20-25 games and catch 100+, with only one other catcher on the roster usually, I think ... in 2011 Victor Martinez DH'ed 26 games and caught 112 ... Seattle would like to catch Montero in about 40 games or so. People talk about the risk of a injury to the 'pure catcher' and losing the DH for the finish of that game. It's unclear, however, whether it's more costly to devote an entire roster slot to a third (weak) catcher if it's primarily to avoid these potential few AB's without the DH. Do teams keep the 3rd catcher in part to avoid the embarrassment of an awkward-looking response to a game situation?
Asked by: jemanji
Answered: 3/14/2012
You're ignoring two things:   1)  That teams today in general DON'T keep a third catcher, and 2) that the 25-man roster today isn't a hard limit.   Teams now move players back and forth to AAA on a constant basis, keeping the third catcher close by the use of options.    The 25-man roster isn't REALLY 25 players any more, hasn't been for years.    
It depends on the player, doesn't it?   If you're a National League team and you have to keep a couple of pinch hitters around to pinch hit and one of them is a really bad defensive catcher, then sure, it makes sense to carry that player.   If you narrow the question to where the player doesn't do ANYTHING except provide emergency insurance at catcher, then obviously that isn't practical in the modern game where players can easily be recalled from AAA, and nobody does that. 

So, after some deliberation and then Sandy's observation, I've triangulated a position here.  Hold your applause until the end.  The M's would only keep John Jaso for the rather "indulgent" luxury of --- > avoiding a couple of times they might lose the DH for half a game.

That's not enough.  It's not worth a whole extra roster slot -- Catricala's or Seager's -- in order to avoid a pitcher-bats situation once or twice a year.  Kyle Seager should not be sent to AAA for the purpose of Eric Wedge's being able to avoid an "embarrassing" at-bat once or twice a year.

Prove me wrong,

Dr D



Y'all turned me around on this one.  Except . . .
1. I think it's different if the manager embraces the concept, as opposed to the GM boxing him in from above.  So I still think it will depend on Wedge's comfort zone.
2. Even daring Mr. Leyland got cold feet and put a 30-year-old journeyman with a career .640 minor-league OPS on the roster when October rolled around.
3. It's "no-harm, no-foul" for me because I prefer Jaso as a bench bat to Wells anyway,  unless you need OF (which you don't if Figgins is willing to play there).
4. In my mind, Olivo and Wells (and Peguero and the version of Liddi we've seen to date) are what I call "random moon shot" guys.
I, personally, love "random moon shot" guys playing glove positions and batting 7 or 8.  I hate them playing corner positions and batting 5 or 6.  Too many ultra-high-K% hitters makes it too easy on the pitchers.
So unless Wells is playing a lot of CF, I have no problem giving his spot to Jaso when we get to the roster crunch (which we won't until mid-April anyway).
[Or, of course, you could drop Olivo and go with Monty and Jaso -- but I don't think that's on the table at all.]


Without a doubt.  Wedge was a catcher - "don't cross me on this one," know what I mean?
Zduriencik granted him the luxury of his ex-Indians rah rah guy, Gimenez, until the M's were about 4-and-16 with Gimenez.  Am sure that this is primarily Wedge's call.
I like the way that Montero is catching a lot and Jaso isn't.


When Leyland went to the extra catcher in October, were the roster sizes still 25 then?
If so, yeah, that's suggestive, if he didn't have the nerve, as it were, to risk the DH situation.


Agree - the bench with Jaso, Seager, Catricala and Kawasaki would be fine with me.  Figgins as the #4 OF and Catricala as the #5.
We have no idea whether the Mariners consider these benches even remotely under consideration :- )


Also like the point that you can fill the lineup with nine players who make the pitcher work for his outs...
Catricala at DH, Figgins at 3B, Montero at C, you've got a whole lineup with no 4-pitch strikeouts available ...


Sorry I wasn't clear.  Detroit called up Santos just before rosters expanded, and then added him to the playoff roster.  Didn't have the nerve to expose the DH in a playoff series.
G, your Baron comment is priceless!  All part of Z's master plan, I suppose.


There is more a reason to having a 2nd backup catcher backup  catcher beyond avoiding a couple embarassing at bats by the pitcher.  It allows you to replace the catcher in any situation.  You don't need to wait for someone to come up lame. 
Miguel Olivo's career OPS vs. Right Handed Pitching is .661.
John Jaso's career OPS vs. Left Handed Pitching is .605.
If you get to the late game and the opposing manager brings in a situational guy to face our (non-Montero) catcher in the 8th inning of a tie game with runners on, wouldn't it be nice if Wedge were able to pinch hit for Olivo with a previously benched Michael Saunders or Mike Carp, or if he were able to pinch hit for Jaso with Vinnie Catricala or Casper Wells?
Or what if it's the 7th inning, any one of our catchers get a base hit;  wouldn't it be nice to get a pinch runner out there that a) has a better chance to score and b) saves the catchers legs for the last 2 or 3 innings, then shuffle the defense around on the other half of the inning.
Not saying it would gauranteed to be the right move, but I DO see advantages to carrying a 3rd (offensively capable) catcher.


The Tigers could go with two catchers because Alex Avila is good enough that you would never pinch hit for him. The same can not be said about Olivo or Jaso.

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.