2011 Season in Review: Ronny Paulino


The New York Mets as a whole went 77-85 in 2011. As suggested by the sub-par record, there were a fair share of ups and downs throughout the season. “2011 Season in Review,” which will be an on-going series, will analysis every single Mets player that picked up a ball or glove in 2011, for better or worse. This particular “2011 Season in Review” will take a look at catcher Ronny Paulino.

After being non-tendered by the Florida Marlins post-2010, Ronny Paulino faced a career-threatening disposition. The right-handed hitter was no longer viewed as a potential starting catcher, and had posted just a .259/.311/.354 line in 344 plate appearances in 2010. In addition, the former Pittsburgh Pirates prospect had also tested positive for performance-enhancing substances–knocking him out for 50 games. Needless to say, the 30 year-old was facing an uphill battle.

Luckily for Paulino, not everyone in baseball was so closed-minded. Sandy Alderson saw value in the righty as a backup to youngster Josh Thole, but also as a potential platoon partner versus left-handed pitching. The thought wasn’t crazy, as Paulino had bashed a .358/.380/.516 line against southpaws in 2010 (and owns a .330/.385/.475 career line to-date). The Mets inked the catcher to a one-year, $1.35 million contract (with various performance bonuses). Considering Paulino would still be under team control at the conclusion of the 2011 season, it seemed like an all-around smart signing.

Paulino made his Mets debut on April 29, missing almost the entire first month due to suspension and a strange blood test abnormality. In his first full month (May), the backup did not disappoint, smacking a .333/.396/.354 line in 53 plate appearances. June was even more prolific for the Santo Domingo-native, posting a .364/.386/.527 line. However, from that point on, Paulino struggled mightily, owning a collective .202/.250/.274 line in 136 plate appearances. On the season, the righty collected a .268/.312/.351 line with 2 homeruns, 19 RBI, and 19 runs.

Ronny Paulino’s 2011 season was more or less a “success”–depending on what you expect out of a backup catcher. He hit well–as advertised–against left-handed pitching (.289/.363/.389 line), but also posted his highest career contact rate (85.3%), and a superb 73.3% O-Contact% (contact rate for pitches outside the zone), which was 11.5% above his 2010 rate. However, Paulino’s defense was a little suspect. Among catchers with at least 200 innings, Paulino posted the eleventh worst caught-stealing percentage, throwing out just 20.3% of runners. He also had 6 pass balls, which ties him with Yadier Molina–but in 639 less innings than Cardinals’ defensive-wiz.

It’s a safe assumption that the Mets will not tender Paulino a contact, and might look for a better defensive upgrade for their backup catcher in 2012 (i.e. Kelly Shoppach). Given Josh Thole‘s struggles behind the dish, it might make more sense to have a more defensive-minded backup than a pure platoon partner like Paulino.

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