Recent speculation suggests that Chris Iannetta will be the Halos’ catcher on Opening Day, with Bobby Wilson backing him up and Hank Conger staying warm in Triple-A. Even if this is the case, Iannetta may force the Angels to give Conger another shot halfway through the season…or much earlier.
Chris Iannetta is a bad hitter outside of Coors Field. It seems obvious that anyone moving away from Coors Field is not going to be as productive, but Iannetta could be really, really bad.
The 28-year-old put up a solid .238/.370/.414 slash line in 2011. I’m not too concerned with the low batting average, but my concern is how far that’s going to dip next season.
As you can see, Iannetta was filthy against just about anything in the zone at Coors Field last year. Away from Coors, however, Iannetta was lousy, to put it lightly.
The splits look awful no matter how you slice it. His line in 217 PAs in Colorado: .301/.419/557. In 209 PAs away from hitters paradise: .172/.321/.266. The road numbers aren’t quite Mathissy (it’s time to adjectivize Jeff Mathis’s name), but they are nonetheless awful.
No statistical evidence suggests that Iannetta will be able to keep his head above water, much less repeat what he did in Coors Field.
Iannetta’s defense could keep him slightly above replacement level this season. A strong case could be made to platoon Conger and Iannetta, with Conger hitting righties and Iannetta hitting lefties. It’s awkward to see a platoon at catcher because of the issue of having a backup ready at all times, but the team could choose to use one catcher against lefty starters and the other against righty starters.
A platoon strategy would also allow Hank Conger to develop at the major league level, without being thrown right into the fire after Iannetta bats .195 through May.
Anything could happen, but I expect Iannetta to be a mild defense-only catcher next season.
Hudson Belinsky can be followed on Twitter at @hudsonbelinsky.