Rays Add Defenseless Catcher

February 17th, 2016

It’s open season for base stealers when new Rays catcher Hank Conger is behind the plate

It’s amazing how catcher remains a paradox wrapped within an enigma.

From Jose “Molasses” Molina to Rene Rivera, who seemed to get hives when holding a bat last season, the position has been a gaping hole for Tampa Bay in recent years.

So it’s no surprise that the Rays shook things up this offseason. Just how they did it is a bit of a head-scratcher, though.

Meet Hank Conger, gained from the Astros for cash considerations. He has hit .225 with 28 home runs, 104 RBI and a .673 OPS in parts of six seasons in the majors.

But when it comes to defense, Conger is a Barney Fife in cleats behind the plate.

Remarkably, he threw out just one potential base-stealer in 43 tries last season. And this was no one-year nightmare: He allowed 57 steals and threw out 18 in 2014 with the Angels; then in 2013, he threw out 15 and allowed 47 with Los Angeles. Overall, he has thrown out 50 and allowed 212 throughout his career.

Sure, Rivera whiffed last year in hitting .178 with a career-worst 86 strikeouts. But until Curt Casali can become more consistent, Rivera remains the best option the Rays have. (Rivera threw out 23 potential base-stealers and allowed 40 steals last season.)

Chances are, the crime rate against the Rays will be high if Conger crouches behind home plate.


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