He won the back up catcher job in '98 and played for two seasons with the Twins (with little success) before being sent back down to the minor leagues. In November, 2002 he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers along with Matt Kinney for Gerry Oakes and Matt Yeatman. Five months later, he was flipped to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for Jason Conti. He played the '03 season with the Devil Rays and then left as a free agent. Finally, the Cincinnati Reds signed Javy on January 8th, 2004 as their backup catcher.
After a ho-hum '04 season, Valentin broke out in a huge way last season. Coupled with Jason LaRue, he was part of the best hitting catching tandem in the major leagues last year, combining to hit 28 home runs and 110 RBI's. The Reds are hoping for more of the same offensive production from Valentin this year, although the arrival of David Ross may mean he'll see less time behind the plate and more time as a pinch hitter/spot starter at first base.
Among Reds fans attuned to the Reds blogosphere, Javy is certainly most famous due to the efforts of Red Hot Mama. She even provides this dedication in her title tag: "Endeavoring to make Javier Valentin a household name since 2005." Therefore, you simply must go to her Javy Valentin Human League entry to get the real scoop on this guy...once you've finished reading here, of course.
Historical Stats (please visit the Baseball Statistics Quicksheet for definitions and explanations of the various statistics used on this page):
Valentin shows fairly dramatic home/away splits. His past two years have been with the Reds, so if we were looking for an influence of GABP we might expect to see it here. Instead of the often-predicted surge at home for a guy with power like Valentin, he has actually been a far superior hitter on the road. Nevertheless, we're only looking at about 300 plate appearances per split here; sample sizes could certainly be a factor.
|Pos.||Year||Level||DI's||PintoGB (+-runs)||Passed Balls/150g||Caught Stealing||CS%||ERAeffect|
(Since this is the first time I've evaluated a catcher, I will once again encourage you to seek out the Baseball Statistics Quicksheet for descriptions & explanations of these statistics).
Valentin looks to be a fairly average defensive catcher. He generally keeps the opposing team from stealing enough bases to do anything other than break even (the break-even point is 28% - less than that means the other team profits from stealing). Over the last three years, there has been no consistent pattern in terms of team ERA when he is in the game (in '03 and '05, pitchers had a better ERA; in '04, pitchers had a worse ERA), indicating that he calls a decent enough ballgame and doesn't otherwise negatively affect pitcher performance. One place in which Valentin may excel defensively: in terms of runs above average saved on ground balls (PintoGB), he was the second-best in baseball last year behind Dioner Navarro. Both Valentin and Navarro are well above the next highest regular (Ivan Rodriguez @ 0.00322), however, so this could also be a small sample size problem. I'd like to see more info on this before rendering any sort of verdict.
Baseball Archive, The
Baseball Cube, The
Baseball Prospectus '06 Annual
Baseball Think Factory
Hardball Times '06 Annual