Terry Ryan is continuing to make low-cost signings, as the Minnesota Twins inked catcher Ryan Doumit to a one-year deal worth just three million dollars. Doumit rejected the exact same offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers, and he narrowed down his list tp two teams; the Twins and Mariners. Had he signed with the M’s, Doumit would have been one of the team’s best hitters. However, Doumit signed on with the Twins and is a decent hitter who will help out a poor offensive team.
Doumit would be a very valuable offensive catcher, but the problem is that he is an awful defensive player behind the plate. He has more passed balls than James Harrison has fines. The Twins will probably use him to give Joe Mauer some rest, and the former Pirate will most likely shift between positions throughout the season with the departures of Jim Thome, Michael Cuddyer, and Jason Kubel. However, the Twins are expected to sign Josh Willingham.
Another problem is that while Doumit isn’t a poor hitter, he would be a below-average DH if forced to play there. His hitting would obviously be more valuable as a catcher, and the Twins don’t seem like they want to play the equally as injury-prone Mauer everyday at catcher. Drew Butera‘s 24 OPS+ hasn’t made him the most enticing option behind the plate at this moment in time either. The Twins have a decent bat in Doumit, but their dilemma is figuring out where exactly to put him.
On the bright side, Doumit’s career wRC+ of 104 shows that he is an above-average hitter. However, his -13.9 Fld tells the story of an absolutely horrendous defensive player. Bill James projects him to have an above-average (for a catcher) wOBA of .337 in 2012. Although these projections are usually too optimistic, this one seems quite reasonable. After all, his career average is a .336 wOBA and he had a .360 wOBA in 2011.
236 plate appearances is obviously a small sample-size, but he was worth 1.8 WAR over that time span. Doumit displayed some nice pop, as usual, with a .174 ISO. That’s pretty valuable for a catcher, but again, it isn’t anything special for a first baseman or DH. His triple slash of .303/.353/.477 translated to a nifty 129 wRC+, and he has proven to be one of the better offensive catchers in baseball. However, he is rarely healthy and only has two seasons with at least 400 PAs.
Even though he didn’t play much last season, Doumit improved his LD% to 20.8% and also improved his HR/FB% to 12.3%. Doumit’s bounce-back season at the dish can also be seen in his improved O-Swing% of 27.0%, and he also improved his Contact% to 82.0%. In those 236 plate appearances, Ryan Doumit had a career-low SwStr% of 7.4%. His 2012 season will tell us whether or not he has changed his approach at the plate for the better after a stint in the minors during the 2011 season.
One-year deals have absolutely no risk, especially when a player is given just three million dollars. That’s replacement-level money, and Ryan Doumit’s solid offensive contributions make him better than a replacement player. The problem is that his poor defense negates his value as a hitter, and we saw this in 2010. Although he had an exactly average 100 wRC+, his defense was so poor that he was worth only 0.5 WAR.
I expect the Twins to play him at other positions, so his defense won’t dramatically suffer from being an everyday catcher. However, Doumit’s time behind the plate will boost his wRC+ to make him at least a 1 WAR player. His contract basically asks him to be a 0.7 WAR player, and he matched that in 2009 (his worst offensive season). I can see him being worth 1.5 WAR this season, and Ryan Doumit will surely outperform his inexpensive three million dollar deal. He won’t tear it up, but Doumit is a solid addition to the Twins punchless offense. You could spend three million on lesser players such as Willie Bloomquist or Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Yeah, our second-favorite shortstop- because we all love Yuniesky Betancourt- makes three million dollars a year and was worth -1.4 WAR in 2011. That “-” sign wasn’t a typo either.