FMandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Comparing Dioner Navarro Fielding to J.P. Arencibia

Last year’s Toronto Blue Jays were pretty awful in a lot of categories, but their defensive play may have been the toughest pill for Blue Jays fans to swallow. I can watch a losing team if they play good ball; however, watching a losing team that plays poor defensive is really tough to get behind.

This year’s defense will be much improved for the following reasons: Dioner Navarro replacing J.P. Arencibia, Ryan Goins starting in place of Emilio Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis, Brett Lawrie not starting the season on the DL, and Melky Cabrera not having a tumor to slow him down.

How much did the poor defensive play at the catching position affect the performance of the Blue Jays starting 5, and how much of a difference will Dioner Navarro make?

We aren’t going to discuss the offensive number because I don’t want to relive J.P. Arencibia’s 2013 offensive showing.

We have been told that Dioner Navarro will be a major upgrade over J.P. Arencibia in all aspect of the game. J.P. Arencibia appeared in twice the games than Dioner Navarro in 2013, so it might be unfair to judge Arencibia’s fielding stats to Navarro’s fielding stats without some extrapolation. I will take an elementary look at how Navarro’s fielding numbers would stack up if he appeared in the same number of games that J.P. Arencibia played in 2013.

Dioner Navarro has a reputation of a catcher that takes charge of the pitching staff and I have noticed he has done a really good job of doing that this spring in a way J.P. was never able to do. This makes me excited to see his ability to call games and if he is better than Arencibia.

J.P. Arencibia got a lot of media scrutiny, sometimes deserved and sometimes undeserved, on his receiving skills,but did you know that he placed 6th among all catchers in his ability to frame pitches? I wasn’t aware of this until after he signed with the Texas Rangers this past off-season. In my option this the only this he did well in 2013 as he led the league with 13 passed balls and had 40 pitcher/catcher wild pitches good for 7th in league. I don’t think that any of Toronto’s pitchers would come out and say it, but I think that this caused them to doubt his ability to receive the ball. This could have caused them to elevate pitches or shake off pitches intended for the dirt….and we all know what happens to elevated pitches.

Dioner Navarro appeared in 55 games last year and J.P. Arencibia appeared in 131 games.  I am going to multiply Navarro’s fielding stats by 2.4 and see how they compare to Arencibia’s numbers.  I understand that this won’t be a true representation of Dioner Navarro’s season if he actually ended up playing 131 games in 2013. It is designed to provide prospective to this upcoming season and to look back on what we had at last year.

Dioner Navarro stats by multiplying his 2013 fielding stats by 2.4.













J.P. Arencibia fielding stats for 2013.












These numbers don’t really inspire a lot of confidence in our new backstop now does it? I don’t like the number of PB and WP that Dioner could have accumulated, especially when you consider that he never had to catch a knuckballer. Josh Thole will catch all of RA Dickey’s games so that won’t be an issue. When JPA did catch RA Dickey he allowed 3 PB, so if we remove those 3 than JPA has less PB than Dioner over the same number of games. Thankfully there is no statistical significance in projecting stats by simply doubling stats. If there was than we would be in for another long season of watching another poor defensive catcher. One stat that I didn’t include in the tables above, but should be discussed, is fielding percentage. These two catchers had identical fielding percentages with Dioner Navarro holding a .989 over his 55 games and J.P. Arencibia producing a .988 percentage over his 131 games.

I still think that Dioner Navarro will be a better catcher in 2014 than Arencibia was in his three seasons with the Blue Jays. I think this will translate into the pitchers having more confidence to throw any pitch in any situation, knowing that Narravo will block or catch it.


Do you think that we should be concerned with above comparison?

Tags: Dioner Navarro Toronto Blue Jays

  • DaveH

    Interesting idea for an article, but did anyone edit this? There are numerous typos and errors throughout.

    • RyanMueller

      Thanks for the comment.

    • Michael Wray

      Thanks Dave, it looks like the updated draft wasn’t published. I’ve updated the post with some minor tweaks but you are right, we dropped the ball on this one.

  • JaysHopeful

    I am very skeptical about the accuracy and control-ability of variables in the measurement of pitch-framing statistics, and I think this is apparent in how Arencibia has been commended for pitch-framing.

    Watching him all of last season it was apparent that he lacked the lateral movement and flexibility to frame pitches to his throwing arm side. He repeatedly and consistently pushed borderline pitches outside the strike-zone coming across his body. This significantly limited the effectiveness of inside pitches to lefties and outside pitches to righties.

    He seemed competent at frame pitches to his glove side, but maintained a horizontal mitt position that generally showed bad receiving form. Basically, I think he got lucky with the numbers and pitch-tracks is not as accurate as we want it to be.

    As for blocking balls in the dirt, Arencibia was terrible. But what simple statistics of pbs and wp_cs don’t tell you is the number of balls a catcher calls in the dirt, and how many he successfully blocks. I wouldn’t mind a catcher getting 11 pb and 40 wp IF he were catching low-ball pitchers exclusively and most pitches in the dirt. However, Arencibia was catching flyball pitchers, and consistently called pitches high in the strike zone. He loved the high fastball calls.

    Pbs and wp_cs also don’t tell you how many times a catcher calls a ball in the dirt with a runner on third, something pitchers do not feel comfortable with throwing balls in the dirt when their catcher cannot block. This limits pitch selection. Arencibia was this kind of catcher. Ultimately I saw Arencibia let his defensive limitations affect his game calling, and significantly limit his pitchers ability to utilize their stuff effectively.

    Navarro seems like a much better game-caller. BUT who was the idiot who let Yan Gomes go, huh? (Sorry for the long post. Poor defensive catchers are a touchy subject for me).

    • RyanMueller

      Great post. You can come here and rant all day. I feel the same way that you do and completely agree with your comment about JPA being a terrible blocker. I never like Borders but I must admit that he would sacrifice his body to keep balls in the dirt in front of him.
      Thanks for the comment.

      • JaysHopeful

        Thanks for your analysis and the opportunity to rant.

    • brad

      I have caught for 15 years and absolutely agree with everything u just put in that comment.