I noticed, while doing my morning rounds, that today is Kenji Johjima's 35th birthday. Johjima is currently happy and successful back in Japan, but it was just two years ago that he was a Mariner. And, for a backstop, he was a pretty good Mariner. I know that, after last season's catching experience, a lot of fans wished the M's had a catcher that measured up to Kenji, who I think was underrated in his time.
Well, I have good news: it looks like they do.
During his four seasons with Seattle, Kenji posted an OPS+ of 91, and a wRC+ - like OPS+, only with wOBA - of 90. Miguel Olivo, meanwhile, is sitting on an OPS+ of 96 and a wRC+ of 88. And none of Olivo's luck indicators are flashing big red warning lights. Everything seems to be right about in line, so we can feel fairly comfortable - not absolutely comfortable, but fairly comfortable - that what Olivo has done so far at the plate is more or less an accurate reflection of his ability.
Catchers, of course, don't only hit. Kenji gets the edge on Olivo in blocking balls and throwing out potential base-stealers. But then, Olivo is the superior baserunner, and one can't discount the fact that pitchers love working with Olivo, where they didn't love working with Johjima so much. We don't know how much significance to place on this, but we can't ignore it entirely. It's a part of the game that matters, even if we kind of suck at measuring it.
Miguel Olivo is a very different catcher from Kenji Johjima, with some dissimilar strengths and weaknesses. Yet he ends up at about the same place, if not somewhere ahead, depending on how much you care about his should-be tangible intangibles. Those of you who miss Kenji can continue missing Kenji, but those of you who miss Kenji's performance should be content with what theare running out now.
Miguel Olivo is signed to a two-year, $7 million contract. That's really not bad. It's probably quite good.