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Chris Iannetta: Solid on both sides

Jeff Sackmann at the Hardball Times put up an interesting piece on catchers defense against stolen bases with some detailed results on who's done what. His conclusions in regards to the Rockies primary backstop in 2007? A little mixed: Iannetta doesn't rank that highly in cutting down runners when they attempt to steal, but the reputation of his arm has apparently kept baserunners from even making those attempts. Chris ranked third in the minors in fewest SB attempts against per inning. Sackmann's conclusion:

Also of note: at least two of these catchers (Chris Iannetta and Matt Tupman) cut down attempts at worse than a league-average rate, despite apparently enjoying something of a positive reputation. That could be interpreted very favorably: against a catcher like Iannetta, perhaps managers very carefully pick their spots. Regardless of why the numbers come out the way they do, all of these backstops keep baserunners in their places, allowing fewer than one attempt per nine innings.

Overall, Iannetta only allowed a stolen base in 6.2% of the innings he played in, which is quite low for a catcher with his offensive abilities. Jeff Clement actually fared better at 5.4%, but he's probably the only "offensive" labelled catcher to do so from what I can tell. Apparently Jeff forgot about Miguel Montero, and Russ Martin spent most of 2006 in the majors so he's not there either, but it would be interesting to know how the three promising young catchers in the division stack up to each other in that regard. I'll work on finding out and see if I can get that info to you later.

Read the article, though, as it's quite enlightening. One non-Rockies related note: at the end Jeff mentions Astros prospect and 2006 first round choice, Max Sapp, who I got to see in person several times last season in the NYP league, and I can tell you that I was envious of Houston for having him in their system. I'm hoping Austin Rauch and Michael McKenry turn out half as promising as this kid looked.

Of course, in the majors, runners will test our rookie more, and we need to see him gun a few more down to make them think twice about it, but every word I've heard is that Iannetta's defense has made almost as many strides as his offense the last couple of seasons. I'm very excited to see what he brings in 2007 on both ends of the spectrum.