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2017 Phillies player review: Andrew Knapp

The man with the mustache. The guy who slapped the railing every time something exciting happened. What’d he do in 2017?

MLB: Washington Nationals at Philadelphia Phillies Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 Phillies were chock full of young players and rookies.

Andrew Knapp, however, was overlooked even as he had a rather successful first season in the MLB. Part of this was due to him being on the shelf for a little more than a month with a right hand injury.

Knapp brought a lot of fun to the team. He was nationalized each time he repeatedly slapped the railing of the dugout when something exciting happened for the Phillies.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

You get the point.

Having guys like Knapp in the dugout and clubhouse is a blast not only for the players and coaches, but for the fans too. Oh yeah, Knapp also played in a bunch of games so let’s talk about how he performed, shall we?

Knapp’s 2017 hitting stats (56 games):

Standard: 204 PA, .257/.368/.368, 8 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 31 BB, 56 K, 1/1 SB, 0.7 fWAR
Advanced: 15.2% BB%, 27.5% K%, .360 BABIP, .321 wOBA, 95 wRC+

It was an all around solid first season for Knapp. Obviously, the injury and his having to split time with Cameron Rupp and eventually Jorge Alfaro diminished his playing time.

The first number that jumps out at me is Knapp’s on-base percentage of .368. When you compare that mark to his minor league on-base percentage numbers you see that it is better than all but one season. In 2015, while splitting time with Clearwater and Reading, Knapp posted an OBP of .385. His next highest was .340 as a 21-year old in low-A.

Whether Knapp was the beneficiary of a major league strike zone or simply improved his approach, it was good to see his on-base skills take a leap forward in 2017.

That talking point sequences me into my next discussion: walk and strikeout rates.

Knapp shattered his previous career high walk rate of 10.3% with Clearwater in 2015 by taking a free pass 15.2% of the time in his first big league season. When it comes to his strikeout rate, I won’t count Knapp’s 23-game stint with Clearwater in 2014 as his career high (28.9%). That effectively makes his 27.5% strikeout-rate the highest of his career. I don’t find this extremely alarming given his walk rate and on-base percentage, but if Knapp can work his strikeout rate down to around 23-25% we could be looking at a guy who gets on base at around a .380-.390 clip, assuming he hits for about the same average.

What also stands out to me is the low number of extra-base hits for Knapp this past season. He had just 12 in 204 plate appearances, or one XBH per every 17 PAs.

One of Knapp’s best tools while developing through the minor leagues was his raw power. It didn’t always translate to in-game power, however to be a viable catcher in the big leagues a player needs to hit for extra bases more often.

Now let’s look at Knapp’s defense from 2017.

Knapp’s 2017 fielding stats (53 games):

Standard: 448.1 Inn, 4 E, 3 PB, 8/41 CS (19.5% CS%)
Advanced: -13.4 FRAA (C adjusted), -14.4 FRAA, -11.2 Framing runs, -0.023 CSAA

So, for those of you who are not as involved in advanced stats, what do these ones mean?

To put it bluntly, Knapp was not a very good defensive catcher in 2017. Here are the above numbers alongside the league rank for catchers. The ranking is out of 110 catchers and is in parentheses.

Knapp’s Defensive Stats and Rankings

Player FRAA - C adj. FRAA Framing Runs CSAA
Player FRAA - C adj. FRAA Framing Runs CSAA
Andrew Knapp -13.4 (109th) -14.4 (109th) -11.2 (108th) -0.023 (103rd)

The catcher adjusted FRAA simply removes entities such as ground balls and calculates a separate catcher statistic. The only catcher worse than Knapp in that category was Jonathan Lucroy at -19.4. Even after adding back in all normal FRAA components, Knapp still ranks second-last among catchers in the category. His framing was not much better.

Knapp ranked third-last ahead of just Salvador Perez and Lucroy when it came to framing runs and seventh-last in CSAA — or ‘Called Strikes Above Average.’

And if you aren’t a fan of advanced statistics, look on the bright side: Knapp had just three passed balls.

I am personally interested about what Knapp will do in 2018. Jorge Alfaro will surely be around but no one really knows the Phillies’ intentions when it comes to Cameron Rupp. With the catching battle heating up, Knapp will need to improve on some aspects of his 2017 game if he wants to stick around in Philadelphia.