Chris Iannetta: One of my Favorite Players


Sep 24, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels catcher Chris Iannetta (17) tags out Oakland Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) during the fourth inning at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have a lot of tremendous fantasy options, most notably the great Mike Trout, but one of my favorite Angels is Chris Iannetta.  I am a fan of his because Iannetta has fantastic plate discipline.

Chris Iannetta has a career walk rate of 14.2%.  In 2014, his walk rate was 14.5% and he drew a base on balls a remarkable 17.0% of the time in 2013.  Iannetta’s ability to take pitches is the reason he is a viable option in OBP leagues.

Furthermore, Chris Iannetta can flash enough power to be respectable at the catcher’s position.  His seven home runs in 108 games and 373 plate appearances is far from impressive, but any counting stats you receive are a bonus in this instance.  The benefit of Chris Iannetta is that he will never harm you.

Even though this production is likely long gone, 2008 Chris Iannetta of the Colorado Rockies clubbed 18 homers and slashed a tidy .264/.390/.505 in only 104 games.  Those numbers would be basically elite for any position if they were stretched out to a full 162.  However, 2008 Chris Iannetta production is likely a thing of the past.

Catcher is maybe the thinnest position in fantasy baseball, so you will find yourself overpaying for very mediocre stats.  Instead of wasting a pick on Miguel Montero of the Arizona Diamondbacks or Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals, spend it elsewhere and draft an equally effective fantasy catcher in Chris Iannetta.

Besides Iannetta, there were a few other catchers in 2014 that fit the profile of providing an OBP and OPS (and maybe even average) that will actually help your team.  The three catchers of the Oakland A’s, Derek Norris, John Jaso, and Stephen Vogt, all played behind the plate and put up fairly similar numbers.  The trio of catchers each hit 9 or 10 homers and had an OPS between .752 and .767.

Compare that to Yadier Molina’s .719 OPS and 7 homers.  You may site the fact that Molina missed significant time due to a thumb injury, but he still had 404 at-bats.  Derek Norris had 385 at-bats, John Jaso had 307 at-bats, and Stephen Vogt had 269 at-bats.  Vogt’s season was cut short with a concussion.

Miguel Montero had a .699 OPS and Wilson Ramos trailed just behind him with a .698 OPS, but those catchers actually had a small price tag on draft day.  Chris Iannetta is basically free.

I do want to point out that Iannetta is in all likelihood not a top 10 or even top 15 catcher, but I believe his value comes from preserving your OBP or OPS.  A .373 OBP is excellent for any position and a .765 OPS will be right around your team’s average OPS if you have assembled a very good squad.

The 41 runs, 7 home runs, 43 RBI’s, and 3 steals are nothing to write home about, but those numbers are not really all that far off from a quality fantasy catcher.  Iannetta made the most of his 373 plate appearances by walking in 54 of them.  He averaged half a walk for every game he played in.  Furthermore, his 126 wRC+ means that Iannetta was worth 26% more runs per plate appearance compared to a replacement level hitter once you adjust for league and park factors.

Above all, this is a guy you can get in the last round or just scoop him off waivers almost whenever you want.  Iannetta will contribute in OBP and OPS while also slightly ticking up your team’s counting stats.  He is the rare catcher who will not cost a dime and not hurt your team’s production.

If Chris Iannetta is your catcher, then you either forgot to draft one or you play in a very deep league, but it may not be a bad thing.  If you fail to land a top ten catcher, then simply draft the backstop with one of the highest slash lines.  Treat any runs, homers, RBI’s, and steals you receive as a bonus.