Who is the better fantasy own - Salvador Perez or John Jaso?
Perez, CA - KC – .301, 11 HR, 39 RBIs, 0 SBs, .328 OBP
John Jaso, OAK – CA - .276, 10 HR, 50 RBIs, 5 SBs, .394 OBP
If there’s one thing that’s consistent in most of my fantasy leagues, it seems to be that I find myself starting a new baseball season without a catcher. I have no real reason why. It could be that I just don’t value them as highly as I should, or perhaps there’s too many similar catchers after the first three or four are taken and just not worth my time to trade for. Or it could be that I seem to find good value on the waiver wire.
Salvador Perez was that guy; last year. If you’re new to Dobber Baseball, I had mentioned waiting until the later rounds to draft the then 22 year-old catcher who was about to enter his second year, saying he could provide you with a decent average, 10-15 HRs and 60 RBIs. While the prediction was fairly accurate and as much as I want to toot my own horn, he did it in only 289 at bats; missing time due to surgery in which he needed to repair a torn meniscus. The injury actually didn’t show how good Perez was last year, hitting for above-average power and combining it with a good average; a rarity among today’s catchers.
If Perez was the guy last year to wait on, the cost to roster John Jaso is minimal and could return you with double-digit homeruns with a decent average. He’s currently scheduled to platoon behind right-handed hitting catching prospect Derek Norris. If you recall, he was the principal piece coming to Oakland in the three-team trade that saw Oakland giving up A.J. Cole and Blake Treinen to Washington , and Michael Morse going to Seattle.
Jaso, a product of the Rays system, will be entering his fifth year as a catcher and if there’s one elite skill he possesses, it’s his plate patience, with a career 13.4 % walk rate. Salvador Perez, is the Starlin Castro of catchers, with a less-than-stellar walk rate, walking just 12 times in 289 AB (3.9%).
What Salvador Perez lacks in the ability to walk, he makes up in spades by making contact with the ball. While Perez did it in limited innings, he showed everyone that he didn’t miss a beat taking a huge step forward last year making contact with the ball, striking out only 8.9% of the time. If there’s one minor concern with Jaso is that he’s striking out a little more (14.1%), but still making decent contact with the ball. A completely new batting stance has resulted in career highs across the board.
Jaso’s combination of elite plate patience and good contact rates make him a good catcher to own, especially if you’re in an OBP league or in a two-catcher league. If you’re in a league that counts batting average, you’re banking on Perez being able to maintain the pace he’s been on making contact with the ball. Perez crushed southpaw pitching last year, hitting .358 with a .379 OBP and a 1.021 OPS. Jaso crushed righties last year hitting .302, with a .419 OBP, 927 OPS. The biggest difference between the two is their splits. While Salvador Perez held his own vs. righties (.279 AVG), the same cannot be said about Jaso, who hit a paltry .119 vs. southpaws which resulted in more time on the bench. Despite a poor average however, Jaso did maintain good peripherals and if new manager Bob Melvin gives him extended time versus lefties, there is a chance Jaso’s fortunes turn around.
Both catchers profile similarly showing raw power potential in the minors. Perez showed off league-average power in his rookie year, and took another step forward last year, despite a lower .OPS. He continues to hit the ball hard with a 24.2% line drive rate, and upping his HR/FB to 13.1%. He may have reached his ceiling as a 25-homer catcher, despite showing growth in fly-ball% (31.7%) and ISO (.170 from .142). Jaso’s track record is trending similarly to Perez. A revamped batting stance has allowed Jaso to hit the ball harder than ever, seeing his ISO grow for a third straight year to .180, from last year’s .130. With it, he saw his HR/FB soar to 14.3% (compared to 6.1% in 2011) thanks to an increased line drive rate of 25.4%. The big drop in FB% to a career low 28.2% is a concern and will have a very limited power ceiling if he can’t push this back to at least his career norms (34.8%).
John Jaso has never really showed a running game in the past, but did chip in five stolen bases last year. He has shown underrated speed at the major league level but chances are slim he’ll reach double-digit steals. But there is some potential there to produce.
Perez’s situation seems to be more fluid than Jaso’s, slotting in the fifth spot for the Royals. Jaso’s skill set would play nicely in the two spot, but the A’s more than likely want Jed Lowrie in that spot who is a bit more proven. However, if given the opportunity Jaso in the two spot could at the very least provide runs.
While Salvador Perez remains a very good candidate to breakout this year, it seems that everyone already knows this and is being drafted accordingly. Given the growth he’s shown, the hype is warranted, and should provide you with a good average, 23 homeruns and 70 RBIs. As I write my final paragraph, I noticed someone has picked up Jaso in my 16-team dynasty league, one of my leagues I remain catcher-less in. Finally, if you’re in this deep a league, and have no catcher, this is someone you want to take a chance on, especially if you’re leagues counts OBP or walks. With Jaso, the biggest question mark is opportunity. While his batting average versus lefties leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, his peripherals were good enough that he should at least be given a bit more opportunity to turn it around. At the very least, Jaso should return you with double-digit homeruns, a great OBP, some runs, and a good average; numbers that won’t hurt you. However given his new batting stance, and seeing his skillset; especially the power, grow with it, Jaso is someone we should all be closely monitoring. He’s on all my watch lists. Perhaps he should be on yours too.
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