Fastball... WE WANT TACOS TOO, HE'S THROWING YOU A FASTBALL
Miguel "The Convection Oven Who's Timer Is Broken So You Have to Watch It Carefully" Montero came into this season after a strong 2011 campaign where he was an All Star and other fun stuff. Considering that good hitting Catchers are as rare as a movie from the 1980s with a theme song not sung by Kenny Loggins. This was a good thing. For 2012, Catcher was not going to be a worry for the Diamondbacks if he kept this up (and statistically speaking he did, more on this later.)
However, there was a black cloud on the horizon. This cloud was called "Impending Free Agency" After Yadier Molina tilted the pinball machine of the Catcher market, it seemed any hope of an extension this season was lost, and that during the offseason someone like Jon Daniels would go up to him and do the old "SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY" and we'd be left in the cold. Who would be our Catcher in 2013? J.P Arencibia? Eli Whiteside? Roy Campanella?
Fortunately, on May 26th of 2012, a ray of hope came through. In the middle of yours truly replaying Final Fantasy XII, the D'Backs announced that they had re-signed Montero. (For some reason, I remember what I was doing this moment just as clearly as, say, my High School graduation.) So we will have Miggy as our backstop type person for the next five years.
If you took a quick glance at the line of Miguel Montero, it would look frighteningly similar to his 2011 line. His slugging percentage was down a little, but his on base percentage was up a little. He struck out more in 2012 (130 to 97), but walked more (73 to 47). Striking out more is kind of a bad thing, but walking a lot more is a good thing. (Don't let anybody tell you that walking more is a bad thing, these people are not to be trusted.) This all lead to an OPS+ of 120 in 2012 (compared to 121 in 2011), and a bWAR of 3.7 (compared to 3.8 in 2011.) So you can chalk up his 2012 season at the plate as "About the same" compared to last year.
Defensively, Miggy continued his steady improvement from the start of his career. While he will probably never be mentioned with the Molinas of the world as an "Elite" defensive catcher (MIDWEST COAST BIAS!), he threw out a staggering 42% of runners who attempted to steal a base this year. To put that in context: The league average was 27%.
Miggy, as you probably know, plays a lot of games at Catcher. Like, more than the usual big league catcher does. This has raised concerns about his health, but he seems to have played through the previous two seasons for the most part. However, there are times when he needs to take a breather, and that's where his backups come in. Henry Blanco was the backup for most of the season. He regressed from his 2011 season where he randomly would run into home runs at opportune times to "standard backup catcher" type numbers of .188/.244/.281. He injured his thumb in the game that would probably win the Pitty for "Worst Game Of The Season" on August 5th against the Phillies when he collided with John Mayberry Jr. at home. Blanco would miss the rest of the season and Wil Nieves was picked up off waivers from Colorado. He did well in limited playing time, which was good enough for the team to retain him as the backup for 2013.
Konrad Schmidt also happened.
It seems reasonable to expect Miggy to repeat the performance of his previous two seasons, and he has a shiny new contract to go along with it. Again, going by the standards of Catchers, his offensive numbers are almost godlike, and he will remain an important part of the 2013 offense. Wil Nieves will also be there.
Depth is still a concern, both in the majors and in the organization (The Stryker Trahan era is still years away). Should Montero go down with an injury for any length of time, then things will be bleak. However, he's held up pretty well the past two seasons and it wouldn't be a surprise for him to do the same in 2013.
However, I'm going to go knock on all the wood ever, just in case.
All in all, Miggy was pretty darn good, and as he played most of the games at Catcher, this grade is based on his performance. As mentioned above, it was pretty solid, and there are few Catchers in baseball who you would take above Miggy in terms of offensive performance.
However: Microwave? Really? Really? I still say the attempts to make this nickname mainstream was what got Daron Sutton sacked. Hopefully, we can avoid such things in 2013. As such I give the position as a whole:
Happy New Year, everybody!
Auld Lang Syne - Bagpipes (via RussisTech)
The other SnakePit opinions...
John: There aren't many catchers I would trade Montero for. Posey and [Editor's note: that was it from John. If I'd to guess, he probably went to B-R.com to look up other comparable catchers, and is still wandering the pages, stuck in a loop of left-handed relievers by OPS+. Either that, or the paramilitary wing of the SnakePit launched an attack after he typed the words "trade Montero"...]
soco: Miggy's one of the best catchers in the game, and he might be higher regarded if he wasn't stuck in the same division as Buster Posey (who might be the best catcher in the game). He started the year a little slow but then got it going, and ended up as one of our most valuable players. Wil Nieves was pretty decent for limited time, though I didn't have high expectations. Henry Blanco's time has probably passed, however. Still, given that Miggy caught the majority of the games, how can we have anything less than an A-.
Jim: Definitely glad we got Montero signed up to a long-term extension - that was a major hole in the organization, which could have become a real problem. And so far, he seems to have lived up to it. hitting .298/.406/.476 for an .892 OPS after getting the deal on May 27. Of course, it's always going to be a risk, since no position gets beaten up more. But so far, so good. It's fortunate he was able to play so much, because our backup catchers weren't up to much: Blanco regressed to his usual, non-hitting self, hard, then got himself injured: Nieves was decent in a short spell, and should be okay for the role in 2013. But next year, it'll still be a case of "Show Me The Montero". B+