“The Mets got the most production they’ve ever gotten from the catching position in 2012. They needed to bring in Kelly Shoppach ’cause it was just so overwhelming.”
In fact, the Mets might have gotten the least out of their catching position than they’ve ever gotten in their history. Between Josh Thole, Mike Nickeas and Rob Johnson, The 2012 New York Mets got a .222 AVG with 2 HR, 20 2B, 38 RBI, 78 SO and only 35 BB in 168 games either started or entered between the three. Josh Thole was okay early on, but completely bottomed out offensively upon returning from the concussion. The defense was extremely underwhelming as well. Thole regressed upon returning from taking the hard-hit at home, and Mike Nickeas wasn’t as good as they advertised when trying to distract from how awful of a batter he was. Johnson… stirs a “meh” reaction from most Mets fans. With Thole being given a chance as a starter to get out of his funk and catch R.A. Dickey, The Mets knew even though they collapsed, they needed to audition a righty-hitting catcher for next year since none were making themselves known in-house. And so, the Mets traded what turned into Pedro Beato to grab Kelly Shoppach from the Red Sox. He started off hot but tapered off, though he provided the Mets with more “oomph” at the catching position than they’ve had in a long time.
How He Handled the Bat
When he was first traded over on August 14, Shoppach took advantage of the non-familiarity in his first career go-round against National League pitching, and raked for a little bit. He quickly showed off that just the threat of power added to the lineup, hitting a home run in his 2nd game as a Met. His best offensive performance with the team came on August 28, going 3 for 5 with 3 RBI, including a 2-run home run that put the Phillies away that night. His offensive highlight, however, came on September 1 against the Marlins, when Shoppach hit a pinch-hit single up the middle with 2 down in the 9th, the bases loaded and the Mets behind a run. The center fielder missed the ball and it rolled all the way to the wall, allowing 3 runs to score and Shoppach to make it to 3rd, which was all that was needed for a 5-3 win. His Mets average peaked that day at .346, but from there we discovered how much Shoppach could strike out. He whiffed 27 times in 79 Met At Bats. In total, Kelly finished his Orange and Blue campaign with a .203 AVG, 3 HR and 10 RBI (remember, the 3 other 2012 Mets’ catchers had 2 HR in many more at bats.)
How he handled the glove
Admirably, though he’s no Pudge Rodriguez. His arm was sub-standard, giving up runs when baserunners took 3rd after his throws sailed into center. If he can work on having more games like this one, his arm won’t be seen as a liability. He was fantastic at blocking the plate, saving the day on August 26 against Houston (“Are you kidding? I love the contact.”) it was said that he called a great game, being attributed with the pitchers throwing inside more after his arrival. He is never going to make the Hall of Fame, but his defense was refreshing after the other backups were very underwhelming.
How He Did with Facial Hair
It is only a coincidence that the first 2 players I’ve reviewed both have facial hair that warrant comments. Shoppach brought over quite the solid beard, one that many men wish they could grow (just joshin’, Murph.)
Projected role in 2013
If he is brought back, it will be as a righty-hitting backup to Josh Thole once more, and a power bat off the bench.
Kelly is a free agent, but wasn’t overwhelmingly excellent to warrant a return. Catcher is certainly one of 3 spots where the Mets HAVE to improve to stand any competitive chance in 2013, and the front office has said as well they MUST improve the position. It isn’t likely Josh Thole will be non-tendered, since R.A. Dickey is extremely comfortable throwing to him, and there is a chance he could return to his slap-hitting form. If Shoppach, along with others competing for a spot, returns to the team in Spring Training, I will not be disappointed. Kelly is a hard-nosed type of player who”s easy to root for.
And for some reason, I have a strange feeling I’m going to get a Shoppach Road Jersey this winter…
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