Miguel Olivo’s time in Colorado is over, being traded to Toronto last week (though, his option was declined by the Blue Jays granting him free agency).  Barring another move, which is always possible, it appears that Chris Iannetta is in line to open the 2011 season as the Rockies starting catcher.

This isn’t the first time fantasy owners have been captivated by the allure of Iannetta being handed the starting job, so the question is if he can finally realize his potential.  Before we can answer if he is going to hold value for fantasy owners, let’s take a look at what he did in 2010:

188 At Bats
.197 Batting Average (37 Hits)
9 Home Runs
27 RBI
20 Runs
1 Stolen Base
.318 On Base Percentage
.383 Slugging Percentage
.212 Batting Average on Balls in Play

He got off to a terrible start, going 4-30 with two HR and two RBI in April before being sent down to Triple-A.  He excelled there, hitting .349 with five HR (as well as seven doubles) and 21 RBI in 63 AB, but the damage had already been done.

Even upon his return to the Major Leagues, he never received more then 43 AB in a month (August).  It’s hard to get anything going offensively when you are getting so few opportunities, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that his season was virtually a complete waste.

The Rockies gave up on the 27-year-old after just 30 AB, never giving him a chance to recover from his early season slump.  You could easily say he lost confidence because of this and just never got on track.

However, entering the 2011 season as the starting option, with little competition, would change all that.  It certainly is too early to declare him a great sleeper or not, because the Rockies offseason strategy will go a long way in shaping that.

If he opens the season as the starting option, he is going to be a viable option, especially in all two-catcher formats.  Even with his disastrous 2010 campaign, he still showed the same power that helped grab fantasy owners’ attention.  Just look at his HR/FB rates from the past three seasons:

  • 2008 – 18.2 percent
  • 2009 – 14.0 percent
  • 2010 – 14.1 percent

His fly ball rates have been a little unpredictable, but he’s been at 40 percent or better the past few seasons.  In other words, when you put his fly ball rate with his HR/FB rate, you have a player with the potential to hit 25 home runs or more. 

Yes, we would like a steadier FB percent (he’s gone from 40.7 percent to 52.1 percent to 45.4 percent), but he has never given us a full season of AB to get a good read of the “real” Chris Iannetta.

The most at bats he’s had in a season has been 333, coming in 2008.  Until we get a season with everyday playing time and see what he can do, it’s going to be a guessing game.

The BABIP in 2010 was obviously an unlucky number (as it was in 2009 when he posted a .245 mark), which helps to explain the terrible average.  Again, it’s a fairly small sample size, which makes it tough.

You can easily argue that he has the potential to be a similar player to Mike Napoli (circa 2009), though he does have a bit of a better eye at the plate (Iannetta has a career walk rate of 13.1 percent and strikeout rate of 26.8 percent vs. Napoli’s 11.1 percent and 29.9 percent).  In ‘09 Napoli hit .272 with 20 HR and 56 RBI in 382 AB.

It would appear that he has the stuff to hit .260 or better, with 25+ HR.  That’s a player who would have value in all formats, so the offseason is going to be extremely important to how we value him.  This is certainly a player that we’ll touch on again as the season comes closer.

What are your thoughts of Iannetta?  Would you take the gamble on him in 2011?  How do you see him performing?

Make sure to check out some of our 2011 Projections:


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