Welcome to the 2020 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2020. 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 lowest rWAR and end up with the player with the highest.
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No. 28, Drew Butera: -0.3 rWAR
We can all agree that Drew Butera, now 36, has excellent hair. We can also agree that his best catching days are (probably) behind him.
In 2019, Butera was ranked 38th in the Ranking the Rockies list with an rWAR of -0.4. (You can read Adam Peterson’s assessment here.) In 2020, he was better but still below replacement level. Butera slashed .154/.190/.205 and had a wRC+ of -11. He earned a DRS of 1.
To be a bit more specific, here’s how the Rockies catchers fared in terms of pitch framing as measured by Baseball Savant:
It’s worth noting that all catchers were slightly below the MLB average of 48.5%, and Butera’s framing numbers were, well, fine.
But the Rockies value catchers based on their ability to, according to Bud Black, “communicate with the pitching staff and coaches and manager.” Black likes Butera, adding, “Drew’s been with us for a couple of years now—a veteran catcher with a lot of experience, a lot of savvy.”
And, as an added bonus, he can pitch:
Drew Butera pitching— RoxGifsVids (@RoxGifsVids) September 2, 2020
1st Batter: Brandon Crawford pic.twitter.com/TnqCVLfLhk
To be clear, a position player who’s willing to take the mound when the bullpen is gassed is an excellent teammate, and he deserves our praise for that. (Butera earned a 5.40 ERA for that outing.)
So, what does the future hold for Drew Butera? During the last week of the season, Nick Groke offered this:
An offseason move that would help the Rockies improve for 2021: Make Drew Butera a coach. He might want to keep playing and he'd probably find a catching job. But he'd make a good coach.— Nick Groke (@nickgroke) September 27, 2020
Given that the Rockies like Butera’s catching skills and their tendency to hire coaches who’ve had experience with the team, it’s not an unreasonable prediction.
Perhaps Butera will be back in 2021 but in a different capacity.