May 07, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Mets catcher Josh Thole (30) grabs for his head after a collision with Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ty Wigginton (24) at home plate in the eighth inning at Citizens Bank Park. The Mets defeated the Phillies 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Hurry Back, Josh Thole

The last Mets game that Josh Thole played in was May 7th at Philadelphia.  Since then, the Mets have gone 8-7, using the tandem of Mike Nickeas and Rob Johnson.  The Amazins were 16-13 when Thole was on the roster, so it’s not as if there has been a tremendous win-loss difference, but the impact of Thole’s absence is noticeable.

In 92 plate appearances this season, Thole is hitting .284/.356/.370 with a homer and seven runs batted in.  In typical Josh Thole fashion, he’s drawing walks (walking at a 9.8% rate), not striking out (fanning at just a 13.0% rate) while contributing positively on offense (he owns a wRC+ of 105 and a .321 wOBA).  Defensively, he’s committed four errors, allowed three passed balls and two wild pitches and thrown out six of twenty-three base runners (26.1%) while saving four runs.  Overall, he’s accumulated an fWAR of 0.5.

Then there are the guys who have been filling in for Thole: Nickeas and Johnson.  In 59 PA, Nickeas is batting .160/.263/.200 with no homers and six RBI.  He’s walked in 8.5% of his plate appearances while striking out in 25.4% of them.  On defense, Nickeas has gunned

down three of fifteen runners (20%), allowed three passed balls, five wild pitches and cost the team three runs on defense.  Johnson, his counterpart, is hitting .333/.400/.389 with zero homers and one RBI in 20 PA, walking twice and fanning four times, 10.0% and 20.0% of the time, respectively (for his career, Johnson is a .201/.279/.300 hitter who strikes out 23.1% of the time).  He’s allowed four stolen bases without throwing out a runner in addition to two wild pitches and costing the team one defensive run.  Nickeas has an fWAR of -0.2 and Johnson an fWAR of 0.1, both in very small sample sizes.

Thole is by no means an offensive machine, but there are a few things he does well, such as draw walks, not strike out and put the ball in play.  Both Nickeas and Johnson have demonstrated a propensity to strikeout during their careers, and despite his defensive reputation, Nickeas has allowed as many passed balls this season as Thole in fewer innings caught.  Thole has also done a better job throwing out runners this season than last (21%).

He isn’t an offensive machine, but Nickeas has been a black hole in the lineup and Johnson’s offensive reputation suggests he might be better served as a pitcher.  While in the lineup, Thole can at least draw walks, put the ball in the play and make something happen.  Hopefully he will return behind the dish soon.

Tags: Amazins Catcher Josh Thole Josh Thole Concussion Matt Kaufman Mets Mets Catchers Mike Nickeas New York New York Mets Rising Apple Rob Johnson

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