Quick question. Who is the Reds best hitter? Joey Votto? He's one of the best hitters in the game, but he comes with injury risk and hits for no power for a shortstop, let alone a first baseman. Jay Bruce? Not after his bust of a season in 2014. Brandon Phillips? His time has come and gone. Billy Hamilton? One dimensional hitter right now, but that one skill can carry teams.
How about catcher Devin Mesoraco? Oh, just writing his name makes me cringe. I was the dummy that traded him last offseason knowing full well he was going to play every day this season. We all know how he has performed now that he is in the lineup every day. Once Dusty Baker was fired as the Reds manager, I knew Mesoraco would explode, as Baker just hates playing the young guys, and that is all Mesoraco needed to show us his minor league performance was no fluke.
Last night, Mesoraco went 2-3 with 2 walks, a home run, a double, 3 runs scored and 3 RBI in the Reds win over the Cardinals. The huge game pushed his season slash line to .287-.370-.557 with 23 home runs, 24 doubles, 50 runs scored and 73 RBI in just under 350 at bats. Yeah, you can call that a breakout season.
Among his fantasy catcher brethren, Mesoraco ranks in the top 10 in the four hitting categories:
Home runs: 1st
Batting average: 5th
Pretty impressive for a hitter in his first year as a major league regular, let alone a catcher. The fact that he is a catcher makes him a very valuable hitter on draft day, I would not hesitate to take him as the second catcher off the board next season behind Giants catcher Buster Posey.
Even more impressive is the fact that he ranks in the top 10 in SLG, ISO and wRC+ among ALL hitters this season. Think about that. In an era where power is getting more scarce, this young catcher is one of the best power hitters in the game.
The one concern I see with Mesoraco is that his HR/FB% has doubled this season, but I think with the regular playing time, and playing home games at Great American Ballpark, his power production should continue.
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