2014 Diamondbacks Expectations: Miguel Montero

Norm Hall

Miggy needs to have a bounce back year in 2014. Well, he doesn't NEED to. I mean, there are no universe-ending consequences if he doesn't, but it would be nice you know?

The past five years

Year G PA AB R H HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS WAR
2009 128 470 425 61 125 16 59 38 78 .294 .355 .478 .832 3.3
2010 85 331 297 36 79 9 43 29 71 .266 .332 .438 .770 1.3
2011 140 553 493 65 139 18 86 47 97 .282 .351 .469 .820 4.1
2012 141 573 486 65 139 15 88 73 130 .286 .391 .438 .829 3.9
2013 116 475 413 44 95 11 42 51 110 .230 .318 .344 .662 0.1
5-Yr Ave
122
480
423
54
115
14
64
48 97
.267 .345 .431 .776 2.5


2014 projections

Year G PA AB R H HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS WAR
Steamer 138 581
506
62
128
15
64 62
126
.253 .340 .398 .738 3.4
Oliver 143 600 524 65
129
14 64 65 137
.246 .334 .378 .712 2.7
ZIPS 125
504 440 51
110
14
66 53 111
.250 .337 .398 .735 2.7
PECOTA
551

60

15
66


.261 .340 .412 .752 2.3


What do we want? TACOS! When do we want them? Tomorrow between 4 and 6 PM!

2013 was not a banner year in the career of Miguel Montero. Not only was his Taco Bell commercial woefully inadequate to the previous year's version. (The "WE WANT TACOS TOO" Catcher guy is my acting spirit animal.) His slash line of .230/.318/.344 is good for like a backup catcher you call up from the minors due to an injury, but not for a guy who recently signed an extension for a not minute pile of money through the year 2017. His best month was August, where he put up a .375/.412/.438 line. The bad news with that line? It was in four games because he missed most of August with a back injury (more on that later.)

He also took a big step back defensively. Most of his advanced metrics trended downward from his career averages. He also had a career high in Passed Balls with 9, and with him catching, Diamondbacks pitchers threw 50 Wild Pitches, also a high for him. You could say "But Clefo, Wild Pitches are credited to the pitcher, they can't be Montero's fault!", but that would be discounting that Wild Pitch/Passed Ball is decided at the whim of the official scorer, who in the previous at-bat gave Troy Tulowitzki a triple on a ball that a vertigo-suffering Right Fielder threw into the stands, and it's not like the 2012 offseason was headlined by acquisitions of nothing but pitchers who threw nothing but splitters.

Then there's the back injury. This is somewhat concerning because the past few seasons Montero has done the lion's share of the Catching duty, more so than the usual Major League Catcher plays on average, and you start to wonder if all that playing time is starting to take its toll. You also wonder if that back injury contributed a little to some of the struggles he had last season. There were months last year where his BA and OBP were at acceptable levels, but his SLG% never seemed to catch up with that, so you could hypothesize that a back injury could have sapped some of his power.

Fortunately, for the hopeless dreamer in us all, all of the above projection systems have Montero bouncing back at least slightly this upcoming season, though nothing approaching his 2011/2012 levels. I, personally, would be happy with that sort of season at the plate from Miggy if his defense returns to some form resembling a platonic ideal of good.

With Stryker Trahan becoming an outfielder full time, and the uninspiring triumvirate of Henry Blanco-Tuffy Gosewisch-Bobby Wilson being the backup options, Montero is the best catching option now and in the foreseeable future. I submit that this statement is true even if he has a season comparable to last season, which increases the urgency for him to bounce back.

Best Case: He comes back in a big way, hitting somewhere in the .275/.395/.450 range with about 20 Home Runs. He gets a new Taco Bell commercial where he hits a slow motion home run off of Clayton Kershaw or something, and while he's rounding the bases, pyrotechnics that would put the ending of The Natural to shame occur, and the ball explodes and turns into two free tacos and a large drink. All of this is scored to Journey's Wheel in the Sky.

Worst Case: He regresses even further, making his extension look less like a sunk cost and more of money literally set on fire. He insults the Dali Lama during a post-game interview. Kevin Towers becomes desperate and offers the Mets the mineral rights on Mars for Travis d'Arnaud. He over swings at a pitch so hard that time itself stops.

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