The catching position for the Los Angeles Angels solely belonged to Chris Iannetta to begin the 2013 season.
However, over the past couple weeks Iannetta has been splitting time with Hank Conger. Conger, a former first round draft pick, has been impressive of late batting .290 over his past 10 games.
The Angels drafted Conger in the first round in 2006 with the 25th pick for his offensive ability. While Conger’s always been able to hit, as his recent tear with his bat suggests, his throwing has always been a concern for Mike Scioscia and Angels management.
The catcher worked on his release point throughout spring training. It has shown as of late.The catcher has thrown out five of the last six base runners who have attempted to steal on him. Throwing out base runners must be a new sight to see for Angel fans, as it’s been a rarity all season.
Iannetta is currently the worst-throwing starting catcher in Major League Baseball. Opponents have stolen 52 of 58 bases on him this season. No Angel fans, you didn’t read that wrong. Iannetta has only thrown out 6 base runners.
This is the reason I believe Conger should receive more significant playing time, with Iannetta taking more of a back seat. Conger already has more pop in his bat than Iannetta, and now his throwing has improved enough to also be an upgrade over the incumbent starter.
A catcher’s inability to throw out runners can cost the team a run, a game, or even a season. The catcher must keep runners from taking extra bases. In the MLB, a run can mean the ultimate difference. The Angels are putting themselves at the mercy of opponents when they have Iannetta behind the plate. If I was an opposing manager, my decent speed guys would always have the green light.
Baseball can often be a game of inches, perhaps allowing Conger to start can give the Angels a better chance to quit allowing teams to take a mile.
Conger, as of late, has shown he can be consistent with both his bat and his ability to keep runners at bay.