Who Am I?
Height: 6′ 4″
Weight: 270 (Do YOU want to run into a 270 pound catcher at the plate??)
Bats right, throws right
How Did I Get Here?
James Evan Gattis is undoubtedly the finest product of UT-Permian Basin to ever don an Astro uniform. He was a 23rd round pick by the Braves in 2010, and was acquired by the Astros, along with James Hoyt, in exchange for Andrew Thurman, Mike Foltynewicz, and Rio Ruiz.
Gattis is in the second year of a two year contract, and will earn $5.2M this season, but also has one year of arbitration eligibility remaining.
Why Am I Here?
To say that Gattis is the backup catcher would misrepresent his role. First, Astros skipper AJ Hinch has already indicated that Gattis will catch more frequently than most backup catchers. Second, Gattis will have plenty of opportunities to DH when not catching, especially if Hinch still plans to give Carlos Beltran 30-40 starts in the outfield. Of course, if Gattis continues to show the extreme levels of splits between catching and DH’ing, then sticking with a platoon may make more sense:
2016 as DH: .219/.298/.410
2016 as C: .295/.345/.647
What are my strengths?
Well, let’s face facts – El Oso Blanco’s primary value lies in his bat. (You don’t acquire a catcher and then spend a year and a half shuffling him to left field and DH if you think he’s the next Squatting Molina.) Gattis is a big, burly man who can hit the ball really hard. And last year, he started becoming more selective about which of those pitches to swing at, and the result was career highs across his split lines.
But something funny happened on the way to the designated hitter spot: Gattis turned out to be at least not-so-bad behind the plate. He was a good receiver, pretty decent at framing pitches, and respectable in throwing out baserunners.
What are my weaknesses?
Behind the plate, Gattis still struggles to block balls in the dirt. His history of back problems also keeps him largely ruled out as the primary catcher.
At the plate, Gattis struggles to mash against right handers – his career SLG is 32 points lower against righties than lefties, and that spiked to a 67 point difference last season.
Loves to hit:
Sinkers. Gattis put 35 sinkers into play last season, and rung up 13 hits and 6 HR on those swings.
Hates to hit:
Curveballs. Out of 40 curves put into play, Gattis recorded only 5 hits – but at least 3 of those were homers!
What is my future with the Astros?
Gattis is in an interesting spot. He’s not exactly young, at 30, but doesn’t have many baseball years or catching mileage on him. He has only one year of club control after this, but the Astros don’t exactly have a lot of catching prospects beating down the door to the majors. I’d guess that Luhnow sits down with Oso to work out a 3-4 year deal this offseason.
What is my projected 2017 performance?
Who else would I remind you of?
If Cliff Johnson had been about 50 pounds heavier, I think you’d have a real close match.