The case against Gregg Zaun becoming an everyday catcher

The case against Gregg Zaun becoming an everyday catcher

 

Gregg Zaun, Toronto Blue Jays


 

 

An increase in training and a victory of alcoholism has been citied by some sources as a supporting factor to continued success in 2007. While the training and booze battle may be true, in many ways this hasn’t been an easy off-season for Gregg. His on again, off again negotiations with the Jays, amongst others, has to take some form of a toll. Yet, historically, even discussing an aging catcher being able to actually increase his workload, while maintaining career high statistics would be viewed as ludicrous. But we’ll do the dance anyways.

 
Gregg’s main strength is his ability to take a walk. This logically should not be effected too heavily by fatigue. But his batting average and more specifically his slugging percentage should decline. During Zaun’s entire career, including minor leagues, he’s only slugged over .400 once when he’s had over 250 PA, this being last season. Was this a fluke? Well, I think we can put aside that question for now and still come to the conclusion that he will be hard pressed to continue his career year. The main concern, once again, is durability. Let’s check out his pre and post all-star game splits.

 

Zaun’s 2006 Splits

  • Pre-Allstar: .316/.392/.529
  • Post-Allstar: .234/.337/.403

Zaunny dropped like a rock after the all-star game. This isn’t anything new either, check out his 2005;

  • 2005 Pre-AS: .277/.378/.420
  • 2005 PostAS: .224/.331/.324

 

Simply put, he has tired out in the 2nd half. With an increased load that is back to 2005 levels, no amount of conditioning improvement for a 35+ year old catcher is going to make too big of a difference.

 

The Jays can obtain a combined .270/.340/.400 from the catchers position, but only if they limit Zaun to about 100 games and keep him fresh. But if Gibby goes ahead and has Gregg catch his 125+, I see a dip in Zaun’s and the Jays overall catching production in 2007.

 

If you have a case for Gregg Zaun, feel free to make it below.

Written By

has written for mopupduty.com since 2006. Follow Matthias on Twitter, Facebook and Google +

  • I think you are “off-base” in your suggestion that Gregg (who ended up hiring an agent) would be affected adversely on the field due to a negotiating period in November and December.

    Again, as I mentioned before, his second half drop in 2005 is due to playing through post concussion syndrome. In 2006 he went through a prolonged slump but I believe it was due to his sporadic playing time that worked against him being able to right the ship.

    And in regards to your comment “historically, even discussing an aging catcher being able to actually increase his workload, while maintaining career high statistics would be viewed as ludicrous” we need only look back to 2004 where Greg Myers of the Jays had a career year at the age of 37 while starting 121 games, the most of his career.

  • Your explination as to his two consecutive post all-star drops leaves much to be desired. Call it a prolonged slump if you like, but he’s gassed in each of the past two seasons.

    If you check my comment, it was “maintaining career high statistics” As for Myers, what did he do to “maintain his career high”? He only played 8 games the next season.

    Zaun has 0 track record of success. None. He had his career year last season, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Post Concussion, prolonged slump or whatever, there is nothing to support a repeat of 2006 over the course of a full season, and at least there is some information (post AS declines, his only heavy workload season, 2005, where he caught 125 games and hit poorly .728 OPS) to support his return to 2005 or prior levels.

  • Early

    I agree with Callum that the negotiations will not effect Zaun, it may effect the team if Zaun does not perform and loses his job, but I don’t really think he is that kind of person. 37 year old catchers are usually being put out to pasture. If they are good hitters they are made DH or 1B. And they are usually made into 3B or OF before they even hit their late 30s. And “nice pull” on the 37 yr old Greg Myers. Just hoping we get a 37 yr old Myers instead of a 36 or 38 yr old Myers. Callum do you have any documentation or reports on why Greg Myers was able to turn it around? Was he a drunk or concussed? I still think Zaun is a weak link and can be a liability behind the plate. He is old, he looking at carrying to load for a team that is expected to contend which is something he has never done before. I hope he can avoid the second half slip, that would hurt the Jays chances and hopefully he will catch 120-130 games. I am cheering for him and I hppe he proves me wrong.

  • Not only did Myers maintain his career high statistics up to that point, he exceeded them.

    If Zaun was so gassed at the end of the season last year, how come he hit .304, had an OPS of .895 in September, while playing in 20 games?

  • Single month stats for someone like Zaun have far too small of a sample, that’s why I used All-Star Splits.

    August: 57 AB, 12 hits = .211 BA
    Sept: 56 AB, 17 hits = .304 BA

    Almost a .100 point difference on 5 hits. This is akin to the box guys quoting Rios’ 1.400 October OPS in 4 AB. Zaunny had a two day stint in Sept (27th, 28th) where he had 6 hits in 7 AB. Outside of those two games, he would have hit .224 for the month. Of course, we can’t take those games out but it illistrates the effect of a few hits on a small sample size of data or in this case, ABs.

    His 2005 stats have a little more to them, with Gregg getting about 80 AB a month

    August: 80 AB, 19 Hits, .238 BA
    Sept 78 AB, 15 Hits, .192 BA

    Vernon gets about 100 AB a month, but 80 is still kinda low but better than 50+.

    That’s why pre-post data is used. Outside of 2 games in the second half, Zaun gassed.

  • Also, I don’t understand this Myers stuff. He basically sucked his entire career, and in 02 had a line of .222/.341/.382. In 03 he had the career year of .307/.374/.502 but only over 329 AB. What did he keep up? He, just like Zaun, had one big season. My point was, what did he do to “keep it up” the next season, and the answer is 8 games played.

  • August: 80 AB, 19 Hits, .238 BA
    Sept 78 AB, 15 Hits, .192 BA

    which is exactly when Zaun was playing through post concussion syndrome.

    Myers was injured the following season, hence the 8 games played.

  • and K, if we are going to play the small sample size game to ignore the season he wasn’t gassed and play up the season he had a concussion, well we might as well go the whole way and say that is just one year our of his twelve year career, and really that is too small of a sample size to say he gets gassed in the second half of every year. It’s all relative isn’t it?

  • Early

    Callum, in all honesty can you say you are satisfied with the second half of Zaun’s 2005 or 2006 season? All sources say it was poor, regardless of PCS or being gassed or not getting enough playing time. Excuses are fine but they don’t produce results. Like I said in my above comment, I hope he is ready to adjust.

  • Early

    Also, I don’t understand “Not only did Myers maintain his career high statistics up to that point, he exceeded them.” Myers’ 2003 season was a massive blip on the radar. He had a career year late in his career, that was so much better than any other season, or his career averages. It was off the charts. Noone could have expected or predicted that season, expected it to continue while it was happening or expected him to improve in ’04 – regardless of health. You are expecting a very little fall off from Zaun’s bat production from last year with an increase of 30% in playing time for a 36 yr old catcher. You’re selling but I am not buying.

  • Early

    When looking at Zaun’s 12 year career splits, he has consistently played markedly poorer in June, July, August than in Apr, May, Sept. Maybe the heat gets to him, maybe those were his drinking months, whatever excuses but it is a trend.

  • I don’t know what stats you are looking at Earl, but I assume them to be erroneous. For Zaun’s career, his OBP in the first half is .346 compared to .343 in the second half. His OPS in the first half is .731 compared to .728 in the second half. He has hit 6 more HRs in the second half than in the first and has scored 2 less runs in the second half than first. Gassed? unlikely. Markedly poorer? Absolutely not.

  • Early

    It is obvious you don’t understand my point. Please re-read my last post where I mention stats. Nowhere do I mention 1st half and 2nd half. Zaun monthly stats for his career.
    Apr .266 .379 .456
    May .295 .351 .428
    Jun .221 .315 .313
    July .235 .349 .356
    Aug .250 .338 .349
    Sep .271 .357 .464
    And as I said above…When looking at Zaun’s 12 year career splits, he has consistently played markedly poorer in June, July, August than in Apr, May, Sept. Maybe the heat gets to him, maybe those were his drinking months, whatever excuses but it is a trend.

  • Early

    Callum, with all the Zaun love, are you pleased with the way he has played post All-Star break in 2005, 2006? All the defenses and excuses are fine, but are you happy with his production post- break?

  • In Matthias’ article, he mentions pre and post all star game splits (otherwise known as first and second half splits). In the spirit of consistency and relevancy, those are the stats that I used.

    You are right, I don’t understand your point. Looking at your monthly splits, I don’t see why you would group September with April and May (when our discussions have been focussed on 1st and 2nd half splits) unless the numbers aren’t working out the way you want them to. His August and September numbers do not support the theory that he wears out at the end of the season.

    To answer your next question, excuses aside, no I am not happy with Zaun’s production post break.

  • I didn’t want to bring this up before, cause I’ll endure the “Wrath of Cal” (ha ha), but maybe he’s getting his choke on. Let’s face it, he’s fresh & easy going at the start of the season. But once the dog days come, he starts to stink the joint up. Then, all of a sudden, he plays somewhat well in September, when his teams are usually out of it (minus a season here or there).

    I don’t think citing career splits is too good of a method. His OPS career wise is terrible, about .730. He’s also not a spring chicken anymore, so looking back at his crappy stats from 1998 don’t do a lot for me. The fact is, over the past two seasons (where his age is now a factor), he dies off in the second half. Again, his September of 2006 was basically two games. Whatever the excuse may be, there is a trend towards decline after the first couple of months of the year. Unless he’s been loading up on his B-Vitamin Shots… then all signs point to this continuing. I think his 2005 numbers are close to the real deal (historically), and that his 2006 numbers constitute his Greg Myers like explosion season. If someone can prove this to me otherwise, with at least a few simple numbers, than maybe I can work myself into believing it, but until then….

  • I agree, his 12 year splits don’t do a lot for us as some years he would only play 39 games in a season. If he was “gassed” in the second half of that year he must have really been hitting the bottle hard or have an ultra sensitivity to the “heat”.

    Obviously it is apparent that I am Gregg Zaun’s biggest fan and my judgment is clouded, but I like to think of Zaun as two different players. Pre-sober Gregg and sober Gregg. The sample size for sober Gregg is relatively small however. I think we have beaten this dead horse enough and I look forward to finding out what the “real deal” Gregg Zaun is in 2007.

    P.S. Again, his September 2006 was basically 20 games (not 2) we can’t pick and choose what numbers we want to use… as much as we would like to 🙂

  • Very true about picking and choosing games, I bring it up because of sample size. That’s why the 2005 splits are better, because of the sample. We also can’t continue to make excuses about post concussion syndrome. If it’s that bad, he’s on the DL. But he was not, and his 2005 splits, all-star and monthly, show a decline in production from an old catcher.

  • We have let sleeping dogs lie and it may be time to beat this dead horse known as Gregg Zaun. Following his strong 2006 season Zaun goes .242/.341/.411 and in 41 more at bats in ’07 had one more hit. He and the Jays staff had a pathetic season keeping runners where they are. He went through a mid season slump but was recovering from injury. His AS splits were about equal. He hit much better as a righty this year. Anyways, I think the Zaunbie nation will be absorbed into the Pigpen Nation. I feel the starting job is 25 yr old Curtis Thigpen’s to lose this year in Dunedin, Zaun will play the part of the wise old Crash Davis– without the skill.