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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Brayan Pena having great year behind the dish

Early on, the story with Brayan Pena was the surprising offensive performance the Reds got from him during April.  His bat has cooled off a lot since then, and his overall hitting numbers are now more or less on par with his career numbers: 80 wRC+ in 2014, 73 wRC+ career, 80-81 wRC+ projected by ZiPS and Steamer over the rest of the season.  That's good for something like a 0.3-0.4 WAR catcher by the end of the season.

I noticed this today, however:

Pena (highlighted) is already at +9.5 context-specific runs saved by his framing skills!  If you remove context (specific count), he's only +3 overall.  But that's still very solid when we're just over a third of the season played.

Entering the season, Harry Pavlidis projected Pena at +4 runs from framing alone.  Therefore, he's probably already shot past that projection.  This is great to see, and is consistent with what some of the twitter-verse told me as the season began.

Pena's other fielding numbers have been good: 36% CS rate (26% league average), and +4 runs by Chris Dial's catching system against stolen bases, passed balls, and errors.  I don't like him that much as the team's backup first-baseman, but he's been everything you could ask in a backup catcher.  And, very clear, he has been a terrific guy in the clubhouse.

Quick bit of prognostication: if we split the difference between the context-specific and context-neutral framing numbers (+6 runs), give him +4 runs for his other fielding performances, that gives him +10 runs on the season.  If he can double that, he'd end up a +20 fielder, which is worth 2 WAR.  I don't know if he'll do that, but even 1-1.5 WAR by season's end would be a solid performance from a backup!