2017 Orioles preview: Caleb Joseph

March 07, 2017 | Luke Jones

With Opening Day less than a month away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2017 Orioles every day as they try to return to the postseason for the fourth time in six years.

March 1 – Manny Machado
March 2 – Kevin Gausman
March 3 – Adam Jones
March 4 – Darren O’Day
March 5 – Seth Smith
March 6 – Mike Wright

C Caleb Joseph

Opening Day age: 30

Contract status: Under club control through the 2020 season

2016 stats: .174/.216/.197, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 7 R, 0 SB, 141 PA

Why to be impressed: His extreme struggles at the plate aside, Joseph remained an above-average defensive catcher as he was worth two defensive runs saved and threw out 31 percent of runners attempting to steal. He also remained an asset as a pitch framer and was valued at 2.7 runs above average in that department, according to Stat Corner.

Why to be concerned: Joseph set a major league record for most plate appearances without an RBI in a season, an alarming development hastened by a testicular injury that required surgery and sidelined him for more than a month. His career 7.3 percent extra-base hit rate entering 2016 plummeted to 2.1 percent in 2016 and his contact rate dropped by more than two percent from his first two seasons.

2017 outlook: It’s easy to bury Joseph after a historically-inept season, but his .660 on-base plus slugging percentage over his first 630 major league plate appearances is a reasonable sample suggesting that he can be a solid backup. With a healthy spring and improved luck from his .221 batting average on balls in play in 2016, Joseph should return to being an acceptable reserve with above-average defensive skills.

Not-so-scientific projections for 2017: .222/.280/.360, 5 HR, 17 RBI, 19 R, 0 SB, 191 PA