Will Montero’s move to Seattle mean he’ll get more time behind the plate, his original position? At FanGraphs, Dave Cameron examines the issue, noting that catching has a “tangible effect” on a hitter, on both a daily basis and for his career value:
If the Mariners decide to keep Montero behind the plate, they should expect a lower level of offensive performance than if they move him to DH. The amount of the surge differs for each player that is moved to another position (some players can handle the load better than others before wearing down), but it is generally estimated to be in the +5 to +10 run per season range. We’ve also observed that DHs hit worse than when they play a non-catcher position on the field, so the effect would be smaller by moving him there than if they put him at first base, but there’d still be an uptick in offensive performance if he had to turn in tools of ignorance.
There’s quite a bit more, including some numbers for current catchers and how their defense might affect their offense, but Cameron concludes:
This isn’t an open and shut case. There are reasonable arguments to be made for either decision – let’s just be willing to acknowledge that a lot more should go into the decision simply pointing at how awesome Montero’s offensive value could be relative to the average catcher.
The Mariners might get good value from putting Montero behind the plate, but would it be enough to displace the incumbent, Miguel Olivo? More likely, Montero will take Mike Carp’s place at DH in Seattle.