2016 Phillies Report Card: Andrew Knapp
Matt, I am writing the Crashburn Alley report card on Andrew Knapp. Since I am largely unqualified to comment on his defensive attributes, do you have any kind or unkind words on the subject? Or possibly a resource I could refer to?
Below average, arm is average, framing improved but not smooth, blocking needs work
Likelihood that he gets to average? Or is the bat going to have to be his carrying tool?
Low, combo of bat and being a catcher could make the whole package average
The above correspondence with prospect aficionado Matt Winkelman provides a simple context in which to view Andrew Knapp. Due to terms like below average and needs work, Knapp’s emergence as an effective major league entity will rely on both (a) his ability to hit, and (b) his very existence as a catcher. To his credit, Knapp has the being a catcher part down quite well. That leaves only the bat as unresolved.
To that end, a hurried glance at Knapp’s player page supports the notion that 2016 was a successful year. The 108 wRC+ is, by definition, better than the league average. Quality result. But a more thorough perusal of the numbers gives cause for hesitation. Consider Knapp’s year over year regression in two critical areas:
The drop in power was not unexpected, as whatever supernatural forces that inhabit Reading were clearly at play. The concern is that it occurred in concert with a significant rise in K%. Or a significant drop in contact rate, you might say. The low contact, low power approach to hitting is not often employed to much success in baseball. With Knapp’s survival contingent on his aptitude for hitting, one of these will need to reverse course.
Despite these harbingers of offensive futility, Knapp did advance another rung up the affiliate ladder, and performed well enough to be considered a possible option for the Phillies’ opening day roster next year. But with neither a big step forward or very obvious step back, there’s little to convince his showing was anything but average.