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Chris Iannetta’s value in 2018 was not found on the stat sheet

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The veteran catcher helped to guide one of the best pitching staffs in Rockies history.

You’re reading the 2018 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at the season had by every player to play for the Rockies in 2018. The purpose of this list is to provide a snapshot of the player in context. The “Ranking” is an organizing principle that’s drawn from Baseball Reference’s WAR (rWAR). It’s not something the staff debated. We’ll begin with the player with the least amount of rWAR and end up with the player with the most.

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No. 32, Chris Iannetta (-0.4 rWAR)

After using five different catchers in 2017, none of whom started more than 66 games, the Rockies brought back Chris Iannetta, who was with the club from 2006-2011, on a two-year, $8.5 million deal over the offseason.

Iannetta, at age 35, brought a measure of stability behind the plate for the Rockies, starting 83 games in 2018.

Spending just over $4 million per year on a 35-year-old catcher means you likely are not expecting said catcher to light the world on fire offensively, and Iannetta didn’t. He hit .224/.345/.385 in 360 plate appearances with 11 home runs. One positive for Iannetta at the plate was retaining his high walk rate, taking a free pass at a rate of 13.9 percent in 2018.

Given his body of work, rWAR viewed Iannetta’s contribution to the Rockies as a net negative in 2018, with fWAR rating it as a slight positive (Iannetta had 0.4 fWAR this season). However, neither r- nor fWAR account for catcher defense, so neither are really equipped to measure the real value Iannetta had to the Rockies this season.

Perhaps the biggest contribution Iannetta made to the Rockies in 2018 was the partnership he formed with Kyle Freeland, who set a franchise record for single-season ERA. Iannetta caught 32 of Freeland’s 33 starts this season, and the southpaw posted a 2.86 ERA with Iannetta behind the plate.

Iannetta has one more year left on his contract, so you can count on him being back with the Rockies in 2019, but his role may be more limited if the Rockies choose to bring in another backstop that can provide some more pop at the plate.