Before I get a bunch of angry comments in French (you know who you are), I know d'Arnaud is not French for "upside." It is obviously French for "the Arnaud." Ok, apparently it means "Arnold", which is Germanic for "eagle power." Huh. Well, we can work with that, especially the "power" part.
Travis d'Arnaud had a pretty good year in 2014. He ended up at #11 in our staff consensus rankings (#10 in my own), so we expect him to be startable in nearly all leagues. I believe he has the skills to pull off a Devin Mesoraco-type breakout in 2015. I think his range of outcomes is something like 15th best catcher to 5th best. Let's take a look at d'Arnaud's (wow, two apostrophes!) 2014 stat line. I put his total fantasy line and his two season halves in the table along with some other stats, for reasons that will become clear.
Mets manager Terry Collins said d'Arnaud benefitted from making a few changes in his swing at Las Vegas with hitting coach George Greer -- though he would not say what they were. Las Vegas manager Wally Backman told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the placement of his back foot to the plate has changed.
"Hitting is hard," Collins said. "You tweak anything, it’s hard and it becomes major. Now is he going to have a whole new stance? No. Because nobody can make those kinds of adjustments that fast. Probably to the naked eye it will look like it’s minor. But it’s worked what he did down there and we’ll see if it plays here. And I hope it does."
But d'Arnaud insisted the changes came from introspection more than technique. He said 95 percent of his change have been mental and the rest physical. At the plate, his mind is no longer cluttered. He attributed his past troubles to "too much technical stuff when the baseball is coming 90 miles an hour."
But more noteworthy was d'Arnaud's improvement hitting offspeed and breaking pitches. Before his demotion, d'Arnaud posted a .159 average, with one home run and no other extra-base hits off those pitches. After his return, he hit .262, smacking five home runs and eight other extra-base hits off curveballs, changeups, splitters and sliders, according to Brooks Baseball.
Using the standings gain points method (standard 5x5), I calculated TdA's fantasy points catcher ranking using his total 2014 stats, and his 2nd half stats extrapolated to a full season. He finished 18th for the full season, but 10th using his 2nd half numbers, so he really can move up the list this year. He's only 25, which is actually young for a catcher, since they develop late and has not yet reached the peak power age (around 27). Mesoraco was 26 last year during his breakout, so I will say it one more time: d'Arnaud has upside.
I will leave you with a video of Travis smoking a pitch to left and Tschus!
For those interested: here is the catcher fantasy rankings table using standings gain points for standard 5x5 categories for 2014: