After a sophomore slump in 2009, Geo made progress in putting the Rick Wilkins comparisons behind him by posting a .385 wOBA in 2010, even better than his ROY-winning season in 2008. Unfortunately, 2011 turned out to be more like 2009. Soto was projected to be the best hitter on the team with a .363 wOBA. He finished the year with a .228/.310/.411 slash line, resulting in a .316 wOBA. So, not good.
It wasn’t just that he had bad luck either – his poor 2009 numbers were partially to blame on a .246 BABIP, this year it was .280. Soto’s ISO was more or less in line with what he’s done so far this year but his other peripheral stats could be good cause for worry. His walk rate fell below 10% for the first time in his career after posting years of 11%, 13%, and 16%, while he strikout rate, normally hovering around 20%, rocketed up to 26.2%. Defensively he graded out as slightly above average per fangraphs catcher defense evaluation, though for what it’s worth Soto led NL catchers with 13 errors. Soto threw out 30% of would-be basestealers.
Geo got off to a slow start in April, posting a .239 wOBA. To Cuey’s credit, despite Geo’s slumping ways he stuck with him rather than giving us heavy doses of Koyie Hill. Geo went on the DL in May with a groin strain, and while his power came back (hitting 5 HR in June), his patience and strikeout rate remained poor the rest of the season.
Despite all of his woes at the plate last year, Geo was still worth 2.1 fWAR and 1.8 rWAR. Luckily for him catchers generally suck at hitting.
A quick look at the projections says that Geo will bounce back this year – on average the systems have him at a .338 wOBA, a far cry from the .363 we were looking at last year. He’s still a well above average catcher, and we can hope that the extremely unscientific pattern of Geo performing well in even-numbers years hold true. If so, the Cubs could win 74 games instead of 72 this year!! It’s gonna happen!