Let’s talk about Seby Zavala

It’s been roughly 3 weeks since our hearts got broken with Yasmani Grandal‘s leg injury. In order to cope with that loss, I tweeted what to me was some l0lz.

When it comes to making content, consider me the low man on player interviews. They can be really great, depending on the interviewer and the subject, but in general me thinks they are kinda boring.

Before the season started, I was pretty worried about the the White Sox catching situation. I felt that any injury to Yasmani Grandal was about the worst thing that could possibly happen to the team. I was adamant about grabbing the a veteran back up to be the caddy for Yas, but alas, the White Sox brain trust chose to go with Zack Collins. The results to this point have been mixed for Collins, as he’s hit .217 / .337 / .371 for a -0.1 fWar in 55 games this season.

In walks Seby Zavala

This is a 2019 photo of Seby Zavala of the Chicago White Sox baseball team. This image reflects the 2019 active roster as of Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, when this image was taken. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) ORG XMIT: AZDC1

Imma be honest with yous. I was worried about promoting Seby Zavala to the big league roster. I know his fine reputation as a defensive backstop, but HE. CAN’T. HIT. Like for real. His numbers in Charlotte the last few years, are hilariously poor, especially when you realize that hitting in Charlotte is like hitting in Coors Field except against guys that pitch in AAA. Seby’s batting line .220 / .287 / .411, that’s bad. It’s also accompanied by a 33% strike out rate. So you know it’s real.

I’d rather hit Stevie in a clutch spot than Seby

However, since his arrival on July 7th, he’s started 7 of the White Sox 14 games. Not only that, he’s gotten rave reviews from the pitchers he’s worked with.

Seby still isn’t hitting, he’s got a batting line of .190 / .261 / .286 with the White Sox, so it’s not like that has changed. But it got me thinking…..I wonder if a catcher like this, who clearly is a good defender, but has zero chance at the plate is rosterable??? A catcher whose batting average starts with a 1. A catcher whose on-base percentage starts with a 2. A catcher whose slugging percentage starts with a 3 (possibly wishful thinking right now). Do those players produce enough to be valuable?

Below is a table, where I try and find catchers with the above criteria and at least 0.5 fWar (an amount of value that would dwarf what Zack Collins has provided in 55 games so far, fwiw).

These are our Zavalas of the last half decade. There’s a lot more of them than I even expected. I also lined up the team record, just to make sure that these weren’t all down trodden teams that weren’t trying to win. Of course there are some bad teams in there, but Roberto Perez was the back-up on the World Series Cleveland team. Tony Wolters went to the playoffs too in 2018. It seems totally reasonable to employ a Seby Zavala as a #2 catcher on a win-now team. This seems particularly reasonable on a team that has a bat-first catcher or, like the White Sox, who have an all-around good catcher.

I am not sure this is a direction the White Sox will ever choose to go in, but just going through this exercise makes me even more interested in exploring what Zack Collins could bring back in trade in the next 4 days. Or if as I suspect there isn’t much trade value, I’d consider demoting Collins when Grandal is ready.


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