Francisco Cervelli is terribly gritty, but mostly terrible

You guys aren’t going to believe this, but someone is praising Francisco Cervelli for being gritty! That someone is Yankees’ Triple-A hitting coach Butch Wynegar, who told ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand that he’d like to have a team made up of 25 Cervellis. The piece is mostly about how Cervelli spent last season working hard and setting a good example for his teammates after being unexpectedly optioned to Triple-A after the Yankees traded for Chris Stewart at the end of Spring Training, but it just wouldn’t be an article about Cervelli without at least gobsmacking exaggeration of the guy’s ability. “There is no doubt he is a big league catcher,” Wynegar said. “My only thing is offensively.”

For the life of me, I have no idea how Cervelli got a reputation for being a defensive specialist, in large part because his offensive numbers (a .271/.339/.353 slash line and 88 wRC+ in 562 career plate appearances) actually aren’t that bad. Sure he doesn’t hit for power, but the average and ability to draw a walk give him a certain amount of usefulness, especially for a backup catcher. The problem is that he’s an absolutely horrid defender. I guess people have confused his frantic presence behind the plate for actual skill?

About Brien Jackson

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

6 thoughts on “Francisco Cervelli is terribly gritty, but mostly terrible

  1. When he was getting regular playing time approx. two years ago, I'd heard about his "defensive capabilities" and thought it was a newfangled SABR thing because it… certainly didn't pass the eye test. I was glad when I looked up the stats, the actuals matched the eyes.

    One question though — he apparently actually is *decent* behind the plate at "defensive plays" — and bad at passed-balls and TERRIBLE at throwing out runners stealing bases, right? Is it possible that he improved enough in the minors at those two things to the point where we won't be throwing things at the TV every time a ball goes into CF when the Rays are playing small ball? /freeFrisco

  2. Jeeze Guys…….give this guy a chance why don't ya ! He brings passion and enthusiasm to the table big time. The lifeless Yanks could use a dose of Franky and Yuke's fire……Give him some everyday playing time and ride with it….Ya think Martin's offense will be missed ? I like Cervelli and I believe if given the opportunity he will run with it…..He's a gamer !

  3. I think the impression he is a defensive catcher came from the fact he was the backup for Posada initially. Backups for Posada were (historically) better defensively than Posada so I guess everyone just assumed Cervelli was too?

  4. I'm wondering if its a reverse gold glove situation? Basically his offensive numbers suck yet he still is on a major league roster so he must be good defensively?

    I like his spirit but no, he should not in any capacity get more than 50 at bats for the team.

  5. I learned as a carpenter that when you make make a task appear difficult, not only do you gain respect but also, the more you get paid. Maybe Cervelli is on to something.