As you already know, catching saviour Josh Thole has been recalled from Triple-A Buffalo and is set to make his first start as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. Blue Jays fans far and wide have been begging for the recall of Thole for several weeks, #freethole has become a common sight in the Twitterverse anytime J.P. Arencibia strikes out (which is often) or makes a defensive miscue (also often).
With the fervent anticipation of Jays fans for this moment you would think that Josh Thole is Buster Posey 2.0. While I too am extremely excited to see Mr. Thole come up to the big leagues, it might be time to start managing expectations. Josh Thole is an average MLB catcher, we should expect no more and no less.
While just okay is a massive upgrade over recently designated Henry Blanco, Mr. Thole isn’t really much of an upgrade over fellow catcher J.P. Arencibia.
As you can see from the above chart Arencibia and Thole are different offensive players, but aren’t all that much different in terms of value. Arencibia has legitimate power that many at the catching position can only dream of. However he has trouble with the whole idea of getting on base, which Thole does at quite a nice clip despite having the same amount of power in his bat as new teammate Munenori Kawasaki.
Where Thole seemingly separates himself is on the defensive side of the ball, while I’m no expert I can plainly see that Arencibia is bad. From what others have told me, and from what I’ve read from the far corners of the interwebs, Thole is much better.
One significant difference that must be noted between these two catchers is which side of the plate they stand in to take their hacks. Arencibia being a right hander and Thole a left hander provides an enormous opportunity for the Blue Jays to take advantage of some favourable platoon splits.
While both of these catchers are slightly below average offensively when facing both righties and lefties, if they are properly deployed they could become a very effective catching combo…like some sort of platoon leveraging, baseball mashing, all around handsome megazord catcher of slightly above average offensive contribution.
While all Blue Jays fans should be excited at the prospect of Josh Thole being called up, he does make our current roster better, expectations need to be managed. If used effectively as mentioned above, the Blue Jays will have greatly improved at the catching position, if not, well they are slightly less offensively inept that one time a week when Thole will catch our knuckleballing ace.