2011 Arizona Diamondbacks Player Evaluations: Miguel Montero

With the season already a few weeks behind us and the World Series coming to a close, news on the Diamondbacks is few and far between currently. With saying that, over the next several weeks, I will take an in-depth look at the season that each Diamondbacks player had in 2011.

First player up? Miguel Montero.

Montero put up the best season, both offensively and defensively, of his career in 2011. After an injury-plagued season in 2010 where the Diamondbacks catcher played in only 75 games, Miggy played in 140 games this season, setting a career high by more than 12 games.

The 28-year-old set career highs in hits (139), doubles (36), home runs (18), runs scored (65), RBI’s (86) and walks (47). His .282 batting average and .351 on-base percentage were the second best totals of his career where he hit .294 and had a .355 on-base percentage in 2009.

Miggy was also impressive in his first postseason action since 2007. During that postseason against the Cubs in the NLDS and the Rockies in the NLCS, he got only seven at-bats backing up Chris Snyder. This season against the Brewers, Montero hit .300 with a pair of RBI’s.

You can’t talk about Montero’s 2011 season without discussing his drastic improvement defensively. Ever since he came up from the minors, Montero’s defensive skills were always a major concern. He got off to a rocky start to start off the year, but he became very solid behind the plate as the season wore on.

His 78 assists and nine double plays were a career bests. He also tied his fielding percentage from 2008 and 2009, but it was Montero throwing out runners was the thing that he improved on the most.

Coming into the season, Montero was throwing about 25 percent of basestealers. Not exactly as bad as Mike Piazza, but not exactly Johnny Bench type numbers either. In 2001, Miggy threw out 32 out of 80 basestealers, good for 40 percent. That 40 percent was the best out of all eligible catchers in the entire National League.

Not too shabby for a guy who only threw out 21 percent of runners in 2008.

After coming off of a career year both with his bat and his glove, Montero will be looking for a significant raise this offseason. He was paid $3.2 million this season and will be in the final year of arbitration in 2012. Look for Arizona to try and avoid a arbitration hearing and lock up Montero for the next several seasons.

Keeping Montero in the desert for the foreseeable future should be a number one priority for the organization once the offseason officially gets under way. His bat in the middle of the lineup protecting Justin Upton is critical and he is loved by the D’Backs young pitching staff.

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