Under the radar for 2013 season is Ryan Lavarnway.
Lavarnway was the hope for the catching future in Boston and the signing of David Ross to a two year deal prior to the 2013 season showed how far Lavarnway had sunk on the depth chart.
With misfortune comes opportunity and that misfortune was a concussion to Ross. Lavarnway got a second life and he has taken full advantage of it.
Lavarnway was suppose to be a right hand power bat, but that never really surfaced at Boston. In 2011 at Pawtucket that power was demonstrated with a .295/18/55 slash in just 61 games. He had earned that transfer up the minor league food chain thanks to a .284/14/38 at Portland in 55 games.
Lavarnway never showed his minor league promise in 2011 and 2012 visits to Boston. He appeared totally over matched by major league pitching and his future seemed to be running parallel to that of Lars Anderson. Then came a foul ball off the mask of Ross.
Larvarnway was summoned from Pawtucket where he was not exactly lighting up the IL. Power seemed to have vanished similar to my 401(k) in in 2008-9. Larvarnway was slashing .250/3/24 in 50 games. Certainly not enough to inspire a heavy dose of catching backup hope among the denizen’s of RSN.
Now as 2013 rolls to a finish, Larvarway has shown a good measure of plate respectability. His totals going into Baltimore this weekend check in at .307/1/14. Not bad. His OBP is .338 and has managed a nice .379 with BABIP, a hefty leap up from his .196 on the 2012 Boston stay. On the deeper metrics, especially plate discipline, you do see a positive tick upwards. Slightly better contact and selection. The downside is Larvarnway will not walk much and will strike out at 21%.
Defensively, Larvarnway has always been a work in progress. His middle name is certainly not Molina and his arm will not be confused with the word “howitzer,” but he is not an embarrassment. He is what he is at this juncture – a respectable backup who can give you some innings.
With Ross signed for another year and the Jarrod Saltalamacchia impending free agency Lavarnway is in an interesting position. If the Sox sign up Salty, Lavarnway could be a trade chip. If Salty moves on Lavarnway could potentially see some extra duty. His value has certainly increased with his 2013 performance. Season 2014 will show if this sudden improvement is a mirage.