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Wednesday Rockpile: Chris Iannetta's Sneaky Productive Season

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Chris Iannetta -- he's sneaky good
Chris Iannetta -- he's sneaky good

When you take a look at Fangraphs' catcher leaderboard, you'll notice that Chris Iannetta's name is missing. That is because he doesn't have enough plate appearances to be qualified for the batting title. This is hardly unusual, as only 11 catchers in MLB currently qualify for the batting title. Iannetta isn't too far off -- around 10-15 PAs away, but the fact remains that he probably won't show up on any leaderboards for the near future.

It wouldn't matter anyway, as Iannetta will never be in contention for the batting title -- his .234 average looks pretty sickly. It's the other parts of Chris Iannetta's offensive game that have been staggering. Let's start with his super strange OBP - BA difference. It is a staggering .156 difference (.390 OBP, .234 AVG). That .390 OBP ranks 2nd (among players with more than 100 PAs) on the Rockies to Todd Helton's .392 (who is having himself quite a fine year). His .468 slugging % is 4th as well, so he's not all walks.

But let's be honest, it's his insane walk rate that makes Iannetta so underrated. Iannetta has walked so far in 39 of his 200 PAs, a 19.5% walk rate. That walk rate ranks first in the NL and is 2nd in MLB only to the godlike Jose Bautista (22.3%). Yes, Iannetta has struck out in 25.5% of his plate appearances, but at least he's walking to first base almost as often as he's walking back to the dugout. Fun fact -- Iannetta's Three True Outcomes (BB, K, HR) % this year is 49%.

Despite not qualifying for the batting title, he has produced the 3rd most fWAR by a catcher in MLB (2.1). On a rate basis, he's been the best catcher in the NL. In fact, if Iannetta were to not play another game this year, he would have had himself a league-average campaign. His 2.1 WAR in 200 PAs puts him on pace for a 5 WAR season this year (assuming 120 games played), which would easily eclipse Buster Posey's 2010 total of 3.8 fWAR.

With his majestic 3 run shot last night (his 9th) to solidify Colorado's win, Iannetta tied Brian McCann for the NL lead in HRs by a catcher -- and Iannetta has 46 fewer plate appearances than McCann. Iannetta ranks third among the NL's catchers in RBIs with 28 -- which is flat-out amazing given the fact that RBIs are such a context-driven stat. The men ahead of him, McCann and Arizona's Miguel Montero, hit 4th and 5th in strong lineups, while Iannetta is relegated near the bottom in a spot traditionally held by light-hitting middle infielders. Iannetta's .234 ISO (basically, a rating for power) is tops among NL catchers with more than 100 PAs. It's not often that you get .858 OPS production out of your 8 hole hitter.

I guess what I'm saying is, please vote Chris Iannetta into the All-Star Game. He's been really good this year. Also, Todd Helton. Also also, Jhoulys Chacin (yes, I know that it doesn't work this way for pitchers).



News and Links

Jim Tracy preached urgency at a team meeting before the game last night -- and for good reason, as the Rockies need to play .625 ball the rest of the way to even get to the 90 win mark. According to Woody Paige, Tracy is feeling some urgency himself.

Carlos Gonzalez is warming up to the leadoff spot -- as if he has a choice in the matter. CarGo, when he's right, is probably better suited to the 2 or 4 hole in the lineup (sabermetrically), but I'll take his recent production as the leadoff man for now.

Russ Oates has a handy Rockies draft-pick signing chart at SB Nation Denver. So far, Colorado has signed 13 of their 51 picks, with 7th rounder Harold Riggins (1B, NC State) being the highest selected player to sign.

Well, you may not like add-on fees when you're buying tickets, but at least Colorado is 28th in MLB according to Chris Jaffe at the Hardball Times, with an average fee add-on of $4.25 for cheap seat September games. The highest? Boston at $11.25.