Arizona Diamondbacks 2022 report cards: Catcher and DH

Oct 13, 2022, 8:02 AM

The Arizona Diamondbacks struggled to find offensive production at the catcher and designated hitter positions in 2022.

Overall, the two positions combined to slash .214/.303/.357 with 34 home runs and 127 runs batted in across 1,278 plate appearances. Their .660 OPS ranked tied for 21st in baseball across the two positions, while the 34 homers and 127 RBIs ranked 20th and tied for 25th, respectively.

Offense from catchers is often considered a luxury, but the designated hitter is designed to infuse more offense into the lineup. However, the D-backs ranked tied for 25th in batting average from their DH. On top of that, they were 24th in RBIs from the position as well.

With all that in mind, what grade do the two positions deserve?


Carson Kelly

Kelly’s 2022 was a far cry from his 2021 production. The 27-year-old backstop saw his batting average dip by 29 points, his on-base percentage by 61 and his slugging by 77. He hit six fewer home runs, drove in 11 fewer runs and had a 1.4 decrease in FanGraphs’ wins above replacement (fWAR).

Against left-handers, with whom he handled to a .313 average and .607 slug last year, he hit .197 with a .336 slug in 2022.

For Kelly’s career, he’s generally teetered around the league average in framing. This season, he ranked in the 54th percentile in framing. In terms of framing runs, which accounts for runs the catcher’s framing saves, he had three. In his seven-year career, that’s his second-most framing runs.

D-backs pitchers also had a 3.82 ERA with Kelly behind the plate. Zac Gallen, who had the best season of his career in 2022, posted a 1.84 ERA with a .485 opponent’s OPS with Kelly.

Merrill Kelly also posted his best numbers with Kelly behind the plate, with a 3.18 ERA and .650 opponent OPS.

Jose Herrera

Herrera, a 25-year-old rookie, played 47 games at the MLB level in 2022. In 124 plate appearances, he slashed .189/.250/.207 with just two extra-base hits and five runs batted in.

He also ranked in the 35th percentile for catcher framing.

Herrera played well in Triple-A Reno, slashing .341/.423/.440 in 26 games.

Final Grade: D+

Offensively, neither Kelly nor Herrera performed at a high level in 2022. In 478 combined plate appearances, they slashed .206/.274/.301 with seven home runs and 40 runs batted in.

Defensively, they were a net positive. In terms of framing runs, Kelly had three and Herrera had zero. Them combining for three framing runs, as well as Kelly’s 3.82 catcher ERA, kept them from having a low-D-grade or F-grade season.

Designated Hitters

Sixteen players made at least one start as the team’s DH in 2022. However, only six played at least 10.

Of those six, only three didn’t get an extended description of their season in previous report cards. Those three will be highlighted here.

Seth Beer

Beer started his 2022 with a bang, launching a walk-off three-run homer in the season opener against the San Diego Padres.

However, that was his only MLB homer of the season. In 37 games after Opening Day, he slashed .178/.270/.206 with just three extra-base hits and six runs batted in. His -0.9 fWAR tied reliever Ian Kennedy for the worst on the Diamondbacks roster.

In 28 games as a DH, Beer hit .178 with one home run and eight RBIs.

He saw a production uptick in 90 games for Triple-A Reno, slashing .242/.361/.435 with 14 home runs and 62 runs batted in.

There’s power in the left-hander’s bat, it’s just about finding consistency against big-league arms for him moving forward.

Pavin Smith

Like Beer, Smith struggled in 2022. However, the seventh overall pick in 2017 has a beefier resume at the MLB level.

In his first 157 games, Smith slashed .267/.329/.404 with 12 home runs, 27 doubles and 53 runs batted in.

That being said, 2022 wasn’t kind to him. Injuries limited him to 75 games, where he hit .220 with nine homers and 33 RBIs for a 0.1 fWAR. As a DH, those numbers fall to .211/.260/.310 with one homer and seven RBIs.

He might have enough big-league pedigree to start 2023 higher on the D-backs’ hierarchy than Beer, but his production as a designated hitter wasn’t great.

Cooper Hummel

As a designated hitter, Hummel had 53 plate appearances. However, he slashed .093/.264/.116 with one double and two runs batted in.

His 10 walks tied him for second among D-backs designated hitters despite being fifth in plate appearances. That said, his .264 OBP as a DH ranked 13th.

He’s representing the organization at the Arizona Fall League this offseason as the member with the most big-league experience.

The 27-year-old has handled minor-league pitching through seven professional seasons. His next step is finding his stroke at the MLB level.

Final Grade: F

In short, the designated hitter is supposed to serve as an extra source of offense. However, the Diamondbacks got anything but consistent offense from the position.

In fact, they were among the worst teams in baseball in offensive production from their designated hitters in 2022. Moving forward, they need to find ways to get more from the position if they want their lineup to take the next step and build a powerhouse around their young outfield core.

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Arizona Diamondbacks 2022 report cards: Catcher and DH