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Travis d’Arnaud Is Better Than Devin Mesoraco

With just three weeks to go before Opening Day, the Mets have an interesting race for the backup catcher position between Travis d’Arnaud and Devin Mesoraco. This is a race d’Arnaud seemingly had won with the Mets trading Kevin Plawecki to the Indians, but with him not being quite ready to play early in the Spring, Mesoraco returned, and he is now arguably ahead of d’Arnaud in the competition.

Now, as organization depth, Mesoraco was a very good signing. He is familiar with the pitching staff, has some pop in his bat, and has the talent to be a backup catcher at the Major League level. In a vacuum, the Mets opting to carry Mesoraco as the backup catcher is a fine decision. However, this decision isn’t being made in a vacuum. It’s a decision between him and another player.

Understandably, Mets fans have been quite frustrated with d’Arnaud. He has yet to have a real healthy season in his career. He never took the next step forward from what should have been a springboard 2015 campaign. He aggravates most fans with his inability to throw out base stealers, a problem brought to light all the more when Noah Syndergaard is on the mound.

Still, despite the areas of the game where d’Arnaud struggles and the frustration over him not becoming what we hoped he would be, he is still a better Major League catcher than Mesoraco.

First and foremost, d’Arnaud is a better pitch framer – always has been and always will be. With the exception of the 2017 season, d’Arnaud has always been a good pitch framer, and in fact, he has routinely been one of the better pitch framers in the game. That’s important for a team built on pitching. For his part, Mesoraco has always been middling to just plain bad in that department.

Of course, not every pitch is a borderline call. Sometimes you just need a catcher to stop the ball to prevent it from going to the backstop and permitting the batter to take the next base. Since 2015, d’Arnaud has yielded just seven passed balls in 1995.1 innings whereas Mesoraco yielded eight just last year in 484.1 innings with the Mets.

Expanding it further to wild pitches, d’Arnaud has a combined 77 wild pitches and passed balls since 2015. For his part, Mesoraco has yielded just 57 in the same time frame albeit in approximately fewer 900 innings, which means Mesoraco yields a higher percentage of passed balls and wild pitches.

Now, it should be mentioned that d’Arnaud is not as good as Mesoraco is at throwing out base runners. For his career, d’Arnaud has only thrown out 21 percent to Mesoraco’s 24 percent, which includes 21 percent last year. Suffice it to say, this a strength in neither player’s game, and there is really a de minimim difference in their abilities in this department.

It may also be surprising to learn d’Arnaud is a much better hitter. Since 2015, d’Arnaud has hit .251/.309/.419 (96 OPS+). For his part, Mesoraco has hit .206/.297/.356 (77 OPS+).

Those numbers may come as a surprise due to the outburst Mesoraco had when he first joined the Mets. In fact, in his first 15 games with the  Mets, he hit .261/.358/.630. The problem is after those 15 games, he hit .210/.290/.344.

Even after all of that, many may still point out to how well Mesoraco seemed to click with deGrom in what was a great Cy Young campaign for the Mets ace. What is odd is how people will raise that point while neglecting how d’Arnaud was deGrom’s catcher during deGrom’s 2014 Rookie of the Year campaign, and how he was deGrom’s catcher during the 2015 postseason. Fact is, deGrom pitched great last year because he is a great pitcher, and really when you break it down, people should at least contemplate whether deGrom could have actually been better with a better receiver last year.

Overall, once d’Arnaud is ready to play behind the plate, he should be the backup catcher over Mesoraco. He is a better catcher, and he is a better hitter. Really, when you break it down, the only thing Mesoraco has over d’Arnaud is he’s healthy. Of course, Mesoraco has the same checkered health record d’Arnaud has, so it may only be a matter of time before the Mets need to turn to a Tomas Nido anyway.

 

8 thoughts on “Travis d’Arnaud Is Better Than Devin Mesoraco”

  1. oldbackstop says:

    Well….no.

    You begin your scenarios with “since 2015” which was D’Arnaud’s only year with an OPS above .735. But in 2014, Mesoraco had an OPS of .885, hit 25 home runs, and made the All Star team. D’Arnaud’s career WAR is 2.1. Mesoraco’s that year was 4.7.

    There is no reason to play games with start years comparing players. They are both 30 year olds with an injury history. Plate appearances career: Mesoraco 1564, Travis 1469. Travis has two more hits, Mez has 11 more home runs.

    Pitch framing….is horseshit, The only decent defensive aggregate for catchers is dWAR….Travis is slightly negative on his career, .0.9, Mes is slightly positive, +1.4. Call it a tie.

    You write about the deGrom thing like it is a statistical anomaly…it’s personal. Mes came back to be deGrom’s personal catcher. And if Thor is out there you better damn well have the better arm there, and that isn’t Travis, who can barely throw right now, recovering from TJ.

    The best case scenario is Travis gets traded to the Royals tonight to replace Perez, who needs TJ.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      The reason you start at the point is because that’s the point Mesoraco had career altering injuries.

      I’d also note WAR is a terrible measure to rate catchers because it does not factor in things like pitch framing and blocking the plate, just throwing arm.

      And no, pitch framing is a real skill. Arguing otherwise is saying you don’t like the numbers because it negates your predetermined opinion.

      1. OldBackstop says:

        Pitch framing stats are a dogs breakfast….Lucroy goes from best in history to worst in the majors to meh as as he changes pitching staffs. Its horseshit.

        Mesoraco has proven he can be a plus offensive player at an All Star level. You would normally say the rap on him was injuries, but …we are squaring him against Travis, ferchrisake. Travus is a 30 year old catcher who has never had a good arm and is only now recovering frim TJ. Throws from catcher are a violent move…how many have come back from TJ?

        I think D’Arnaud starts the year in the IL. DeGrom wants to throw to Mez. If he looks solid, Travis us a good trade candidate. He has no future here. Mez fits the role as a personal catcher fir degrom to give Ramos a breather.

        If they release Travis before the end of ST they won’t be responsible for all his 3.5 mil. It would not surprise me if that happens….a team might take a shot at him at the minimum, it might be a kindness..

        1. metsdaddy says:

          So because an older player declines in a skill, it’s a useless stats? If that’s the case, let’s throw out every stat in the game.

          As for Mesoraco, he has not been the same player post hip surgery. He also makes d’Arnaud look like Cal Ripken.

  2. RealityChuck says:

    Given the situation, you’re right about d’Arnaud.

    To use Mesorosco, the team has to make room on the roster. He’s not on the 40-man roster, so that means someone has to be removed. Not a major problem; there are probably several who can be removed without losing them, but there’s a chance another team will snatch them up.

    Then he’ll have to be on the 25-man roster. Someone has to be sent down and that’s likely d’Arnaud, who’s out of options. And it’s very unlikely he’ll make it through waivers — many teams are desperate for catching. So d’Arnaud goes elsewhere, and possibly for no return.

    Trade him? But even with the dearth of catchers, an injury-prone backstop coming off surgery is not going to have people clamoring for him. d’Arnaud’s value is low and you’re not going to get much for him.

    The solution is to see if Mesoroco is willing to start in the minors and be called up when Ramos or d’Arnaud go on the disabled list. Nothing else makes much sense.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      The one problem I have is you need to find games for Mesoraco and Nido in the minors.

    2. OldBackstop says:

      If Mesoraco is not informed rhat he has made the 25 man roster by March 20, he has the option to leave for someone that will roster him. Mesoraco commented yesterday on the fact that the Royals may actually need TWO vet catchers, so he is not in love with AAA at this point.

      Travis hasn’t even caught a game post TJ. I think the odds of the Mets letting Mesoraco wander off and depending on Travis are slim.

      1. metsdaddy says:

        Good riddance to him if he walks. Maldonado is still a free agent.

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