First Pitch: Barajas is Playing Up to Expectations

When the Pirates signed Rod Barajas, Neal Huntington pointed out his game calling, receiving, blocking, and veteran leadership with the pitching staff, along with his power on offense. He’s had a strange early part of the season, but so far Barajas is living up to those expectations.

After going 1-for-4 with a homer on Sunday, Barajas is hitting for a .220/.265/.407 line with four homers in 98 plate appearances. In his career he has a .237/.284/.413 line, including a .230/.287/.430 line with 16 homers in 337 plate appearances last year with the Dodgers.

Barajas wasn’t added to be a big contributor on offense, and so far he has played up to his career levels. But it’s been an interesting season so far to get him to that level.

In April, Barajas hit for a .143/.222/.184 line in 49 at-bats. He wasn’t showing any of the power that was expected out of him. I wrote that I didn’t see him turning things around, with the lack of power being a red flag. Then that power came. Barajas is hitting for a .302/.318/.651 line in 43 at-bats during the month of May.

He’s not as good as his May numbers, but he’s not as bad as his April numbers. The real story lies in the middle, which lines up with his career numbers.

On defense he’s had a rough start, specifically in the caught stealing department. That has been an issue for Barajas in the last few years, with a 15% rate in 2010 and a 25% rate in 2011. He’s received great reviews from the pitching staff. There are no good measures to really judge that, other than basing the analysis on the grades that pitchers give out, which have been positive.

Barajas wasn’t brought in to be a game changer. He wasn’t a top catcher in all of baseball. He was just one of the only two starting options on the free agent market. So far he is playing up to expectations. Power at the plate, working well with the pitchers, and decent defensive skills behind the plate to the point where he’s not a Gold Glover, but he’s definitely not Ryan Doumit.

Links and Notes

**The Pirates lost 4-3 to the Tigers.

**Kristy Robinson’s Pirates notebook asks why teams are pitching to Andrew McCutchen?

**The Pirates acquired Drew Sutton from Atlanta. I took a look at the crowded Indianapolis roster earlier.

**To start the day, the Pirates called up Jeff Locke.

**Prospect Watch: Tim Alderson dominates for seven shutout innings.

**Prospect Notebook: A detailed look at Alderson, who is reviving his prospect status.


About Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He is a credentialed media member with every team in the Pirates’ system, including the Pirates themselves. He’s a regular guest on Extra Innings on 104.7, and makes regular appearances on ESPN 970, 93.7 The Fan, and TribLIVE Radio in Pittsburgh, as well as ESPN 1430 in Altoona and ESPN 1450 in State College.
  • j_yovan

    Can we get an article outlining how Barmes in NOT playing to expectations? You know, for objectivity’s sake?

    • Tim Williams

      I’ve written about Barmes a few times. Do you want a daily update?

      • j_yovan

        that would be awesome.

        • Tim Williams

          Well it’s not going to happen.

          • dropkickmurphys

            Can we get a similar post (like this one), telling us, in your opinion, if Barmes is playing up to expectations. If not, can you give us a response in this thread, if you think he is playing up to expectations.

          • Tim Williams

            Have you missed all of my articles about how Jordy Mercer should be close to coming up?

          • dropkickmurphys

            I guess I did. I don’t get over here as much as I should.

  • j_yovan


  • John Lease

    Barajas is hitting .220. I have higher expectations than that. You can get journeymen minor leaguers to hit that, for a much lower price.

    • Tim Williams

      OPS is much more valuable than average.

      • John Lease

        Which still doesn’t mean he’s hitting worthwhile. Barajas current OPS is .672. McKenry(who went deep last night) is .694. McKenry was rummaged out of the scrap pile, as Barajas should have been. No need to give a guy that old, with defense that bad, with the track record he has, that kind of money. Who were the Pirates bidding against? ML jobs are valuable, even in Pittsburgh. There are plenty of AAAA guys who’d love to get a chance.

        • dropkickmurphys

          Agreed, his mid-80s OPS+ tells us everything we need to know about Barajas’s offensive contribution. McKenry is doing more than that, at much less cost.

          Defensively, Barajas is also sub-standard. In today’s game he tried to back hand a pitch and whiffed. This isn’t the first time that he’s half butted on defense. He’s thrown out 2 of 20 base stealers. That is horrible.

          When statistical analysis fails, apologists fall back to intangibles, in this case like pitch calling. We know, by Barajas’s own admission, he forgot what pitch he called in a recent game. Furthermore, the pitch calling abilities of a catcher are always blown out of proportion. Watch a game, much of the time, the catcher is looking to the dugout for the next pitch call.

          To write that Barajas is providing what was expected is either an admission that the acquisition was poor to start with. Or, its a dumbing down of standards that warrants its own blog post.

  • Lee Young

    It’d be nice if Barmes would play up to his career avg.