View RSS Feed

JP3700

Finding Value: Eric Fryer

Rating: 2 votes, 4.50 average.
There has been a lot of talk about the Twins going after a catcher to stabilize the position, now that Joe Mauer has moved to first base. Suggestions have been made that we should sign a catcher like A.J. Pierzynski or Dioner Navarro to fill the role until Josmil Pinto is ready. Others have suggested that while Pinto had a nice September, he's far from a sure thing, and upgrading the position with a guy like Jarrod Saltalamacchia would be ideal due to his combination of pitch framing and power.

The other suggestion I've seen tossed around is trading for the, said to be available, Ryan Hanigan. A favorite in the sabermetric community, Hanigan finally got his chance at age 29 to be a mainstay on the Reds roster. Since then Hanigan has shown the ability to be a game changing defensive backstop. He controls the running game, blocks pitches very well, and is highly regarded as a pitch framer. However, what seperates Hanigan from other defensive minded catchers is the fact that he's not embarassing with the bat. He has a career wRC+ of 90 which would be right about league average for catchers in 2013. Most of his offensive value comes from his career .359 OBP, due to his lack of power. Hanigan will be entering his age 33 season with one year of team control left. After an injury riddled, down 2013 his value may be low so he shouldn't be too expensive to acquire.

However, what if I told you I found a comparable player who is still in his prime, with six years of team control and makes the league minimum. What if I also told you that he was already on the 40 man roster?

Name:  Eric Fryer.jpg
Views: 263
Size:  35.4 KB

Eric Fryer is entering his age 28 season and like Hanigan in 2009, has spent 7 years in the minors. Also like Hanigan, Fryer is highly regarded for his defensive abilities, along with his ability to handle a pitching staff. Fryer is extremely athletic for a catcher which helps him with receiving and blocking pitches. He also supplies an above average arm. In the 101 2/3 innings that he's been behind the plate in the majors, Fryer has thrown out 50% of attempted base stealers and has allowed 0 passed balls for a DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) of +3. I understand it is a small sample size, but it's the only sample we have up to this point. Fortunately it supports the reports of Fryer being a good defensive catcher.

As I mentioned, what seperates Hanigan is his bat. So I wanted to compare their minor league offensive stats.

Hanigan Fryer
PA 2221 2081
BA .294 .267
OBP .382 .358
SLG .371 .404
OPS .753 .762
ISO .077 .137
BB% 11.3% 11.1%
K% 11.5% 17.8%
SB/CS 14/12 54/12


As you can see, they provided a similar amount of value as offensive players. Hanigan's contact rate helped his batting average, but Fryer makes up for it with his significant edge in ISO. They both have always shown great plate discipline with above average walk rates. The one thing that stands out is the baserunning. Catchers are known for clogging the basepaths, but with Fryer's athleticism, he has the ability to provide positive value on the bases.

Backup catchers are never sexy, but as David Ross showed in the world series, they can have a great deal of value. The Reds gave a 29 year old Ryan Hanigan a chance and he rewarded them with 7.8 WAR over the next four years. So before we look for the first free agent to sign, maybe we should give Eric Fryer a chance. Just something to think about.

Updated 02-25-2014 at 02:16 PM by JP3700

Tags: None Add / Edit Tags
Categories
Uncategorized

Comments

  1. DocBauer's Avatar
    Agreed, valid points. However, we are talking about a very real exception.

    If lightning strikes again, wonderful. But there is usually a reason someone has not had their shot to this point. I have no problem with signing Fryer to lock him up for depth and help at AAA to help the pitchers there. Though I do have trouble with his taking up a place on the 40 man.

    BUT, a later developing Butera with a better bat wouldn't be a bad thing. I still think we're talking about a solid AAA player and injury call-up.
  2. johnnydakota's Avatar
    Ok so if we dont add anyone and like last years centerfield fiasco, then what?
  3. JP3700's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by DocBauer
    Agreed, valid points. However, we are talking about a very real exception.

    If lightning strikes again, wonderful. But there is usually a reason someone has not had their shot to this point. I have no problem with signing Fryer to lock him up for depth and help at AAA to help the pitchers there. Though I do have trouble with his taking up a place on the 40 man.

    BUT, a later developing Butera with a better bat wouldn't be a bad thing. I still think we're talking about a solid AAA player and injury call-up.
    This isn't a real exception or about lightning striking. This is about how skill sets translate to the majors. Fryer offers the same two skill sets that Hanigan, A.J. Ellis, Derek Norris, and David Ross do. They all draw walks and are also great defensively behind the plate.

    To even put Butera's name in the conversation just isn't right. Butera has a minor league OPS of .607, a full 155 points below Fryer's career mark. By the way, Butera just got a new one year deal with the Dodgers for 700,000.

    This is where the game is going. Good defensive catchers are at a premium, especially if they can hit a little. Why do you think Jose Molina just got 2 years when he can't hit, and is probably the slowest base runner in baseball.

    The fact that Fryer has some pop, draws walks and is an average base runner is why he can be successful. Not as an impact player, but as a part time player who adds value to a team.
  4. JP3700's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by johnnydakota
    Ok so if we dont add anyone and like last years centerfield fiasco, then what?
    Nowhere did I say Fryer should be our everyday starter. Ryan Hanigan has never been a full time player, his career high in PA is 371.
  5. John Bonnes's Avatar
    What scares people off of Fryer was his performance in AAA. He's had nearly 500 PA there and just a .208 BA. It is true that prior to AAA, he had quite a bit of success, and it's also true that his OBP in AAA is a more reasonable .312. But it isn't clear that a guy who can't hit AAA pitchers is going to be able to draw walks against major leaguers.

    So I think you raise some interesting points regarding Fryer, and I'll be much more interested in tracking him now. But to me he is a "wait and see" guy, so another signing still makes sense.
  6. JP3700's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes
    What scares people off of Fryer was his performance in AAA. He's had nearly 500 PA there and just a .208 BA. It is true that prior to AAA, he had quite a bit of success, and it's also true that his OBP in AAA is a more reasonable .312. But it isn't clear that a guy who can't hit AAA pitchers is going to be able to draw walks against major leaguers.

    So I think you raise some interesting points regarding Fryer, and I'll be much more interested in tracking him now. But to me he is a "wait and see" guy, so another signing still makes sense.
    Valid point. That .208/.312/.313 line isn't pretty. Few things though.

    In 2011 Fryer was sporting a .262/.377/.446 slash line in AAA before he was called up to the majors. In the 6 weeks on the major league team, he received 29 plate appearances. When he was sent back down he hit .132/.281/.151.

    In 2012, he was battling a shoulder injury all year. Hence the slash line, along with his caught stealing rate dropping down to 10%.

    His 2013 AAA numbers are more in line with his career numbers. 14.4% walk rate with a .140 ISO. Unfortunately he had a .221 BABIP.
  7. DocBauer's Avatar
    Referencing Butera was in regard to quality defense. Note, I said a better bat than Butera, not that would be hard.

    A solid defensive catcher who could make contact, draw walks and jack some doubles and a few home runs would be wonderful. And perhaps Fryer will indeed be a late bloomer. My reservations are as John stated, the number of at bats at AAA without improvement, so far, brings doubt.
  8. crapforks's Avatar
    I'm in the 'I'm not wielding a pitchfork because Eric Fryer signed a split contract' club. I wish he batted left handed and I wish he had a little better track record. That's all.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.