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Gerald Laird fine behind the plate, bad beside it

Every weekday between now and mid-November, we'll be looking closer at a Tigers player. For more information on the series, including a schedule, please check this post out.

It's a good thing Gerald Laird is respected for his abilities behind the plate, because he sure didn't demonstrate too much ability when he stood beside it.

Laird spent almost five months beneath the .200 Mendoza line this season, finally rising above it with a two-hit day on Aug. 25 against the Royals. He even got his batting average as high as .211 by the end of the season, though it finished at just .207 with a .263 on-base percentage. It goes without saying 2010 was Laird's worst season at the plate during a major-league career that dates back to 2003.

Fortunately he worked well with the pitchers and threw out 32 percent of runners who attempted to steal on him. He also stuck up for fellow catcher Alex Avila, and I imagine taught him a thing or two.

So Laird's final season in Detroit wasn't a total disaster. It just wasn't any good.


At the plate:

2010 30 89 299 270 22 56 11 0 5 25 3 1 18 57 .207 .263 .304 .567 54
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/18/2010.


Via Texas Leaguers

If you had to guess (you do!), what outcome do you think happened most often when Laird made a plate appearance? According to Texas Leaguers, he struck out 18.9 percent of the time. He grounded out 18.2 percent. He flew out 16.5 percent. And finally, fourth down on the list, he singled in 13.6 percent of his appearances. Even in a sport where failure occurs more often than success, that's pretty bad.

It showed in his average and on-base percentage, as we discussed.

If there's one good thing I can say about Laird, it's that he had a .286 average in late games with a runner on first base. Oh, and a .286 average with the bases loaded.

Past that... uhm, yeah.

In the field:

In 2009, Laird's defense was strong enough that he should have been given a Gold Glove, if only defensive awards were given for defensive play. Since they're not, he could only watch as Joe Mauer got the award.

Most of his catching stats appear to be at similar rates in 2010, though he threw out 8 percent fewer runners than in 2009.

I think he remained a good defensive catcher.

What 2010 tells us about 2011:

He struck out more often than normal, walked less, and had a similar line drive rate as he had in the past. He probably did get a bit unlucky on his balls hit in play, and I'd expect that to rebound a bit, and with that his batting average. But don't confuse that with my saying he'll be a much better batter. He won't, given past results.

Laird won't be a Tiger in 2011, but he will be a major league backup for some team. I think his time as a starter has passed, but you never know.


I used Baseball-Reference, Fangraphs, Texas Leaguers,