Gregg Zaun is a Huge Stud

Gregg Zaun

I wrote the following on May 18th, 2006:

Player A: .346 batting average, five home runs, five doubles, 13 RBIs, a .393 on-base percentage and a .731 slugging percentage.

Player B: .291 batting average, four homers, four doubles, 12 RBIs, a .321 on-base percentage and a .447 slugging percentage.

Obviously Player A has the statistical edge. Not an overwhelming one, but an edge nonetheless. Both players are catchers, with Player A having nabbed three out of 11 would-be base stealers (27.3 per cent), while Player B nailed three out of 21 (16.7 percent).

The pitching staff has an ERA of 4.62 when Player A is behind the plate, compared to 4.88 with Player B back there.

You would likely conclude that Player A is having the better statistical season both at the plate and behind it. Surprisingly, the AB’s shake down like this:
Player A: 52 plate appearances

Player B: 103 plate appearances

In other words, Player A has piled up his stats edge despite being given roughly half the playing time as Player B. Just for fun, let’s look at one last set of numbers.

Player A: $1 million salary

Player B: $5 million salary

Welcome to the world of Jays catcher Gregg Zaun, a.k.a. Player A. Wonder how much money the Jays will have to shell out to keep Zaun around should Player B, that being fellow catcher Bengie Molina, leave as a free-agent next winter?

Here’s an educated guess: a lot closer to $5 million per year than $1 million.

Since then, times have changed. A few weeks ago, Zaun more or less took over the starter’s role from Bengie Molina causing Bengie to whine to the Toronto sports media. Not long after, Bengie resumed the lion’s share of the Jays catching load, but mostly due to Gregg Zaun’s miserable slump that he has only recently begun to emerge from.

Today, Zaun stands at .261 batting average, 8 home runs, 13 doubles, 26 RBIs, a .361 on-base percentage and a .436 slugging percentage.

Today Molina is sporting a .282 batting average, 13 homers, 14 doubles, 1 triple (!!!) 38 RBIs, a .317 on-base percentage and a .447 slugging percentage.

Zaun has 211 AB’s whereas Bengie has a gaudy 333.  Zaun’s CS% is 28.6, Molina’s is 18.9%.

To me, Zaun is still the bigger stud of the two. Although his average is dipping, he makes up for it in OBP which is all you can ask for from a catcher not named Mauer.  Zaun’s power numbers are still respectable (probably due to the 25 lbs. of lean mass he acquired in the offseason – shout out to Biotest supplements).  Defensively Zaun is a super stud compared to the slow as molasses (and perhaps on the decline due to his CS#’s) Molina.  However, it is my belief that the Jays are strongest having a 2 headed monster at catcher. We saw how Zaun faded with his exorbitant workload last year and Bengie is the kind of athlete who you know needs to be spelled every once and a while. You put the two players stats together and you have 21HR’s and 64RBI’s – pretty solid numbers coming from the catching position.

So, a team like the Jays working with a 75-80mil payroll, what do they do next season?  Keep Zaun who will likely command the 4-5 mil range as well as pick up Molina’s $7.5 option? Not likely. Buy Bengie out at 500,000 and hope he signs for the same as Zaun 4-5mil? Also unlikely. Keep Molina and send Zaun packing? I don’t think that sends the right message to a clubhouse that seems to be somewhat fragmented. (Zaun by the way would win any fight in the clubhouse tunnel) Those who know me know that I have a soft spot for gamers like Zaun. A gamer is a player who gives it his all night in and night out, respects the game by playing it hard and the right way, doesn’t complain when hurt (or go running to the media about playing time – he conducts himself as a professional) and sacrifices himself for the team. /cliche.I see these qualities in spades in Gregg Zaun. I place less importance on stats than sabermatricians JP and his mentor Billy Beane, and to a lesser a degree my distinguished colleague on this website, Kman.  Players are human beings and as such, cannot be accurately predicted by numbers. There are no stats to measure a catcher’s handling of a pitching staff/the calling of a game. That’s why I say the Jays go ahead and resign Zaun if he will have them for 4-5mil and send Molina on his merry way. Zaun more than deserves it. Thoughts?

Gregg Zaun

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has written for since 2006. Follow Callum on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram (@callumhughson)

  • grimmreapz

    I wholeheartedly agree with everything you’ve stated.

  • Early

    JP should sign them both.
    SABR have done studies on x2 average players vs star+replacement level players. Most of the time this is used to say how useless a commonly injured player is (ie Griffey). When applying this idea to the AL East catchers we see who is getting their most for the buck. I have teaken the 3 catchers from each the Yanks, RSox and Jays added their basic offensive stats and salaries. A starting catcher usually only plays 125-140 games and does not get as much at bats due to the fact they are commonly pinch ran for in the later innings. As the Red Sox and Yanks have both found in the last couple years catchers are more injury prone than other players and also harder to replace.
    Varitek and Posada are definiely bona fide all-stars and my comparion does not take into account of defensive stats or clubhouse leadership or handling a pitching staff.
    I have the actual 2006 stats which is truly the most important in a comparion like this but since we are using every catchers PA in this comparison the basic average will suffice.
    **note I do not include Javy Lopez in Sox stats**

    Yanks .254/.340/.377 $13.7million
    Jays .267/.336/.396 $7million
    RSox .234/.318/.367 $11.5 million
    **I didn’t check these stats**

    as we can see the Jays and there platooning catchers makes for a strong simple batting stats AND they are not burnded by a huge stud star catchers salary. When Posada or Varitek are injured or on a rest the replacement of Sal Fasano or Ken Huckaby or Mirabelli is so far below the regular player that it brings the Yanks and Sox hitting stats down to about or below replacement level. Zaun and Molina are replacable and the Jays gain a little power with one in the line up and gain a little pep with the other in the line up. They go hand in hand to make the best traditional hitting catching squad in the AL East.
    In closing, JP Riccardi should sign the Molina and Zaun tandem up to approx $10-$11mil combined. This would give them a comparative advantage over their AL East rivals. Whereas keeping only one of Molina or Zaun and being backed up by a replacement level catcher they will lose the advantage they have in 2006. My equations
    Molina Posada + Fasano
    Molina + Zaun > Varitek + Mirabelli

  • I love Bengie and his Boobies,,,,,,
    lets talk about Lilly v. Gibbons.

    Gregg Zaun is a stud though

  • How can the Jays afford to give the catching position $10-$11 million on their budget? I’ve removed my post, as I will post an article tommorow proving that the Jays would end up being losers under this certain formula.



  • Also, Early your stats are messed up. If you go to ESPN and do a team search based upon position you will see that
    the Yankees are slugging .434, the Jays .444 and so on. Also, the Jays are paying $5.5 million for their duo, not $7.

  • There is no way to justify spending 10-11 mil on a catching tandem when there are other glaring needs on the Jays squad such as Starting Pitching, a SS and perhaps a setup man. Blowing 1/8 of an annual budget on a catching tandem does not make much sense, especially those inclined to a “moneyball” style of thinking.

  • I agree but you never know. Oakland is giving Kendall $11.5 million for his money ball principals. He’s 2nd in WS defensivly for a catcher
    in the AL (behind Irod) which is great but that’s still a lot of coin.

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  • Brandon Mincoff

    You should join HUGESTUD.COM !