Shoppach impressing, both at the plate and behind it

With the way Indians rookie catcher Kelly Shoppach is playing defensively, Victor Martinez should seriously consider giving up catching. Shoppach has opened the eyes of many Tribe fans recently with his solid skills behind the plate and should be considered a very reasonable option as the team’s future backstop.

Shoppach is only batting .265 but has showed some promise offensively the past couple of weeks. He has begun to show some pop in his bat, hitting his third homer of the season on Saturday night. However, his biggest asset to the club at this point is his arm behind the plate. The Indians organization has been high on him because of his throwing ability and against the Royals we saw why. Shoppach threw out three baserunners and has an absolute cannon for an arm. He has much better mechanics than Victor and gets rid of the ball much quicker.

Some stats to chew on (2006 season) –

Martinez: 96 gms. played, has thrown out 14-of-86 basestealers…16%
Shoppach: 23 gms. played, has thrown out 6-of-13 basestealers…46%

One of the Indians’ problems all season, as well as in previous years, has been controlling the opposition’s running game. Teams have been able to run at will on Martinez but with Shoppach behind the plate that hasn’t been the case. We all know how important defense is and having a good catcher is especially important. Shoppach’s defense is already above average and his offense should only improve as he gets more playing time. With Shoppach gunning down basestealers, teams will be a little more reluctant to send runners once they reach first base.

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