2011 was the season Geovany Soto was supposed to cement his position as a top-ten catcher in the league. While Soto hit for power, it came at the expense of his batting average (.228). Koyie Hill remained as Soto’s backup, and did exactly what he was expected to do–fail miserably at the plate. Steven Clevenger and Wellington Castillo filled in for a combined six games to fill in the blanks. Combined six games is far too little to evaluate, so I’m just going to stick with Soto and Hill.
Soto’s performance at the plate was a vast disappointment this season, as he managed to hit .228 for the year (.280 BABIP). He did hit for power on occasion, slugging 17 home runs (10th for MLB catchers). With a good amount of home runs, however, he couldn’t manage a league-average weighted on-base average. Soto’s .316 wOBA (23rd among catchers with 150+ PA) sandwiched him between the likes of Jason Varitek and south-sider A.J. Pierzynski.
Soto hit the ball on the ground more this season, which likely suppressed his .411 slugging percentage (.455 career). He also swung more times out of the zone in the past five years, contributing to weak contact when he connected on those swings. His contact was the lowest of his career, and he swung and missed the most in the past five years as well.
I was hoping for Hill to be non-tendered this past offseason, however that obviously never happened. Hill’s light contract (0.85MM in 2010, arbitration eligible for third time this winter) will unfortunately point to Hill remaining in a Cub uniform in 2012, however I’ll be rooting for the otherwise.
Hill demonstrated in 2011 that he had no business belonging in a major-league batter’s box, hitting for a .194/.268/.276 slash line. Whatever conceived skills Hill has as a backstop clearly can’t make up for his cover-your-eyes hitting.
Consider this: Hill batted for -9.8 batting runs, meaning he would have to add 9.8 defensive runs to become a replacement player. Putting catcher defense into a statistic isn’t perfect, but Yadier Molina hasn’t done that ever. In fact, Johnny Bench is the only player to have ever met or exceeded that number.
So, I ask again, why is he still on a major-league roster?