Last winter when the Cincinnati Reds traded away catcher Ryan Hanigan to the Tampa Bay Rays, the question that popped up into many Reds’ fans minds was “can Devin Mesoraco step up to the plate?” In the first half of the 2014 season, Mesoraco proved he has what it takes to be an everyday catcher, and not just an average one. Even with two stints on the disabled list already this season, Mesoraco has posted a .316 average and 15 home runs. Manager Bryan Price is happy enough with Mesoraco’s performance that in the absence of Brandon Phillips for a few games last week, he felt comfortable enough batting Mesoraco in the clean up spot. All this success by Mesoraco was enough to earn him a trip to this year’s All-Star game.
Mesoraco has shared time behind the plate this season with Bryan Peña, but has proven that he is the one who deserves the most playing time. He has emerged as a team leader this season in the absence of many veteran players due to injuries. After playing back up to Ryan Hanigan and then taking on more responsibility and sharing time with Hanigan behind the plate for the Reds the past few seasons, Mesoraco has finally matured into the player the Reds knew he could be. It helps that he did have Hanigan, one of the best and underrated catchers in baseball, as his mentor when he was transitioning into the major leagues. When All-Star National League manager Mike Matheny chose Mesoraco over Buster Posey to represent the NL in this year’s midsummer classic, it confused some people.
Why should people be confused though? Mesoraco has had a much better season than Posey in 2014, and in 100 less at-bats Mesoraco has cranked out six more home runs than Posey. Sure, Posey is definitely the more popular and recognizable player, but Matheny realizes that home field advantage is on the line for the World Series in this game and wants to give the NL the advantage, seeing as his Cardinals have a legit shot at making it there this year. Another argument being thrown around is that Mesoraco is finally having one good season compared to all the past great years Posey has had, and therefore Posey should be in. This would be a valid reason if the All-Star game was based on career performance instead of the current seasons performance. Mesoraco has had outstanding numbers for a catcher in 2014 and has accomplished all of it while serving two DL stints.
Ever since the All-Star game began to mean something in 2003, it is no longer as much of a popularity contest as it used to be. Fans usually vote in the players they have heard of the most, but mangers, like Matheny has done with Mesoraco, go with the players who they think can give their squad the best chance to win, and this year Mesoraco seems to be the better option over more popular players like Buster Posey.