Lately, it seems like everyone is talking about the bat of catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has filled in admirably – an understatement, I know – for Jorge Posada during his recent absence (brought on by a mild calf strain). On the season, Cervelli has hit an absurd .429/.500/.500, with 12 RBI. Obviously, that’s a very good line, but what should we expect when Cervelli regresses (it is inevitable since no one can produce that line all season)?
Well, thus far, Cervelli’s BABIP stands at a lofty .462 (Austin Jackson territory), while his minor league BABIP is a much more reasonable number (meaning it is closer to .300, the general norm) at .336. If Cervelli’s BABIP fell to the point where it was inline with that figure, or at least relatively close to it, it is then reasonable to think that Cervelli would still be a productive offensive player. ZiPS forecasts a .325 BABIP for Cervelli over his next 169 hypothetical plate appearances. With that number taken into consideration, ZiPS also projects Cervelli to hit .282/.335/.397 for the rest of the season. If he were to post such a line, Cervelli would end the year with a .313/.372/.419 triple slash.
That, of course, would be a very good line for a backup catcher. Through the lens of ZiPS, Cervelli would post a .732 OPS going forward and would end the season with a final OPS of .791 (just a thick hair under .800). In 2008, American League catchers put forth an average OPS of .715, and, in 2009, the average American League catcher put forth a .724 OPS. Any way you look at it, really, Cervelli would be putting up welcomed numbers at his position and with regards to his specific role. Even if ZiPS is incorrect and thinks too high of the young Cervelli, given his career minor league line (.274/.369/.382), it may not be farfetched to think that Cervelli would hit for a decent average and get on base (he has a pretty good eye). He has no real power, but he can be handy.
In the end, even with a regression, I’m not worried about Cervelli. In the context of his role, he will give the Yankees adequate offensive production (I haven’t even touched on his defense). Even if his share of responsibilities expands a bit with Nick Johnson out, I believe that same thought applies. At the very least, he won’t be a black hole.
Note – The numbers cited in this post do not include last night’s game.
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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