The Minnesota Twins have been aware of Ryan Doumit for more than fifteen years, but it was only in the last 15 months that he was in the organization. In 1999, the Twins drafted outfielder BJ Garbe with the 5th
overall pick in the draft. In the second round that year, the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Doumit from the same high school as Garbe, Moses Lake High School in Washington.
Ryan Doumit debuted as a 24-year-old with the Pittsburgh Pirates in June of 2005. For the next three seasons, he split time at catcher, first base and right field but never played in more than 83 games in a season because of various injuries. In 2008, he had his breakout season. He played in 116 games and hit .318/.357/.501 (.858) with 34 doubles and 15 home runs. Following that season, he signed a three year, $11.5 million contract that included club options for the 2012 and 2013 season. However, after playing in less than 80 games in two of the next three years, the Pirates chose not to pick up his 2012 option after he posted an .830 OPS in just 77 games.
The Piratesí loss was certainly the Twinsí gain. Terry Ryan acted quickly and signed Doumit to a one year, $3 million contract before Thanksgiving 2012 for the 2013 season.
Signing the switch-hitting Doumit made so much sense to the Twins. Following a 2011 season in which Joe Mauer fought various injuries and illnesses, the Twins needed someone who could provide offense at the catcher position. Doumit allowed the Twins to play Mauer behind the plate less frequently and yet be in the lineup more. In fact, Mauer finished the 2012 season with a career-high in plate appearances (641). Doumitís versatility allowed him to also play a career high 134 games and reach a career-high 528 plate appearances.
Doumit started 56 games behind the plate. He also started at DH in 48 games. He started 16 games in left field and six games in right field. He even played three innings at first base. Sure, he had his issues with the glove at each of those positions, but the value of the versatility was in allowing Mauer and Justin Morneau to get time away from their positions and time at DH.
Offensively, Doumit was very good. He hit .275/.320/.461 (.781) with 34 doubles, 18 home runs and 75 RBI. The 34 doubles tied a career high. The homers and RBI were also career highs.
In late June, the Twins and Doumit agreed to a two year contract extension that could keep the catcher in a Twins uniform through the 2014 season.
Why Heíll Be Worse
To be truthful, the success of Ryan Doumit in 2013 is greatly dependent upon his ability to stay healthy. Of the eight years that he has spent in the big leagues, he has played more than 84 games just three times. The first two times he played over 100 games, the following season he played less than 80. Can he avoid injury in 2013?
There are other reasons for some concern. His 5.5% walk rate was his lowest since he walked just 4.9% of the time in 2008. His 18.8% strikeout rate was the second-highest of his career. If those numbers continue to go in opposite directions, he could really struggle.
Why Heíll Be Better
Doumitís first year in the American League was certainly a success. Ron Gardenhire did a great job of keeping Doumit, Joe Mauer, Josh Willingham and to a lesser extent, Justin Morneau, healthy. Doumitís versatility is a great way for him to help the team while at the same time helping himself stay on the field, and more importantly, in the lineup more often.
If Doumit is able to take a few more walks and drop his strikeout rate to rates that are closer to his career averages, it will certainly help. Although he posted a very solid .781 OPS, his career high OPS was .858, so if he can be healthy, he can be even more productive.
Doumit is likely to hit sixth in the Twins lineup on most nights. Mauer, Willingham and Morneau will be on base in front of him. He will have Trevor Plouffe and Chris Parmelee hitting behind him. Now, there is some debate about how much protection in the lineup truly means to a hitterís statistics, but in theory, if those younger guys are productive, it can only help Doumit.
Seth Projected 2013 Stats
for Ryan Doumit Ė 127 G, 505 PA, 470 AB, .257/.305/.430 (.735), 49 R, 31-2B, 1-3B, 16-HR, 63 RBI, 33 BB, 92 K.
So, what do you think it will it be? Will Ryan Doumit be better or worse in 2013? Let us know what you think.