Matt Wieters became the starting catcher for the Baltimore Orioles during the 2009 season, and ever since, the Birds have not had an offensive back-up catcher that would help get Wieters some time off. Steve Clevenger is in line to be the Orioles back-up catcher in 2014 and could be the best offensive back-up since Wieters became the starter.
It is not that hard of thing to accomplish for Clevenger as the back-up catching position in Baltimore has been defensive minded for the past five years with perhaps the one exception being Jake Fox, but even he was not any sort of weapon on the bench.
Want to know the best offensive seasons by a back-up catcher since Wieters took over? Keep in mind that the below stats are purely as a catcher and does include other at bats that came via pinch hitting or serving as the DH.
Greg Zaun, who was basically the starter until Wieters was called up in 2009 posted a .244 average with four homers, ten doubles and 13 RBI in 168 at bats, while Chad Moeller contributed a .258 average with two homers, eight doubles and ten RBI in 89 at bats.
In 2010, Craig Tatum hit .281 with four doubles and nine RBI in 114 at bats, while Fox hit .220 with five homers, five doubles, and ten RBI in 100 at bats.
2011 was not much better as Fox hit .246 with two homers, four doubles and six RBI in 61 at bats, while Tatum hit .195 with three doubles and seven RBI in 87 at bats.
What about 2012? Ronny Paulino hit .254 with three doubles and five RBI in 63 at bats, Taylor Teagarden hit .158 with two homers, three doubles and nine RBI in 57 at bats, and Luis Exposito hit .056 with one hit in 18 at bats. It would be unfair to Teagarden to not mention that he came up with some very key hits for the Orioles in 2012.
Last season Teagarden hit .167 with two homers, two doubles and five RBI in 60 at bats, Chris Snyder hit .100 with two hits and one RBI in 20 at bats, and Clevenger hit .267 with one double and two RBI in 15 at bats.
As you can see, it will not be that tough of a challenge to best any offensive season by an Orioles back-up catcher since Wieters took over in 2009, and Clevenger has the tools to do just that.
Clevenger will turn 28 this April, so he will be in his "baseball prime" and sports a career .311 average in 592 minor league games with 27 home runs, 129 doubles, and 281 RBI. The most important stat that Clevenger has boasted in his minor league career is his .373 on base percentage, which is a big hole for the Orioles lineup right now. In 83 career MLB games with the Chicago Cubs and Orioles, Clevenger has a .204 average with one homer, 14 doubles, and 18 RBI in 226 at bats.
If you have watched Wieters over the past few years, then you know that Wieters is a much better hitter from the right side of the plate (.281 career average as a RHH) as opposed to the left side (.244 career average as a LHH), thus Clevenger, who hits from the left side, can give Wieters an addition day off here and there when the team is facing a tough right handed pitcher.
There is no question that being a back-up catcher in the big leagues is one of the toughest jobs in sports because you are only going to play once or twice a week, after being an everyday catcher in the minor leagues, but Clevenger could add a big offensive boost at the position for Baltimore in 2014.
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