Last week I posted about some interesting position battles to watch this spring training. So today, I’m going to go into more detail about the catchers.

There are four catchers that could break camp with the Mariners and head to Japan. They are: John Jaso, Miguel Olivo, Jesus Montero and Adam Moore.

Unless Moore catches fire this spring training, chances are Jaso, Olivo and Montero break camp as the catchers, but the question comes to as whom to start behind the dish.

Some will argue that Montero should get the starting job allowing Mike Carp and Casper Wells to always be in the line up, sharing time at DH and LF.

John Jaso Mariners
Jaso needs to work on his hugs, or does Rafael Soriano need to work on his hugs? Thank goodness we have spring training to sort this out.

While this is a good argument and would provide the most powerful line up, Jaso’s ability to prevent runs and potential offensive output should earn him the starting job over Olivo and Montero.

By giving Jaso the starting job he provides a better defense on the field, and allows for Montero to bat at his highest level.

So let’s take a closer work at Jaso and Olivo.

The average slash line of a catcher last season was .245/.313/.389 with a OPS of .695.

Jaso in 2011 batted .224/.298/.351 with a OPS of .651 in 273 PAs.

Jaso’s Batting Average On Balls In Play, or BABIP, was a killer last year, with only .244, which is well below league average.

Olivo on the other hand posted .224/.253/.388 and a OPS of .641 with 507 PAs.

Jaso was better in terms of raw numbers.

Where the two really start to vary is their walks and strikes outs.  Jaso struck out 36 times and walked 25 times.  Olivo on the other hand walked 20 times and struck out 120 times.

Let me say that again so it can fully be grasped. Olivo walked 20 times and struck out over 120 times. Miguel Olivo hates walking, he hates walking a lot. Jaso had a little over half the PAs as Olivo yet still managed to out walk him by a 25 percent margin.

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Defensively both Jaso and Olivo aren’t good, but they’re not dreadful. Once again, there is no way of telling what Montero is capable of, but most reports say he’ll be worse than Jaso and Olivo.

Taking the still developing metric of Total Zone Total Fielding Runs Above Average, or Rtot, a rough idea on what kind of backstops the M’s have in Jaso and Olivo begins to develop.

Basically Rtot, calculates the total defensive contribution of a player, and both Jaso and Olivo pan out similarly. In 2011, Jaso was worth -5 runs and Olivo was worth -8 runs. In other words, Olivo cost the Mariners 8 runs last season.

Jaso’s biggest weakness is catching runners stealing. Jaso only caught 10 runners last season at a rate of 17 percent; Olivo caught 31 at 28 percent.

Finally, the last numbers to note is the passed balls. Jaso only had 4 balls pass him by last year while Olivo had 11.

While it may appear Jaso is not good either, but remember that he was hurt for a majority of the year so that have been his issue.

Also remember, Jaso has only played in the majors for a little over a years worth of games and has a lot of time to grow and develop.

Jaso might not shine, but he should be an offensive and defensive upgrade over Olivo.

If Jaso can bounce back to his 2010 form, the catching job should be his. This would also allow Montero to perform at the plate to the best of his abilities.

Clint also touched on this topic last week, check out his piece as well.