For the past couple of seasons, Hank Conger has taken a backseat by being the backup catcher behind Chris Iannetta, but now may be the time for the Los Angeles Angels to consider making the switch between the two backstops.
Through the first month and a half of the season, Conger has outplayed the eight-year veteran. He has put up better offensive statistics with a .314 batting average, three home runs and 13 RBIs in 51 at-bats in 17 games compared to Iannetta who’s hitting .224 with three home runs and 14 RBis in 76 at-bats in 23 games played.
He has also put up near identical defensive numbers to that of Iannetta despite being the lesser of two as he has .986 fielding percentage, nine assists, .688 opponent stolen base percentage (11-of-16) and 128 putouts in 139 total chances. As for Iannetta, he has a 1.000 fielding percentage, 14 assists, .667 (12-of-18) opponent stolen base percentage and 199 putouts in 213 total chances.
Although both players are similar defensive catchers, it has been Conger’s bat that has helped him stand out. The 26-year-old has recorded hits in four of his last six games, as he is batting .350 (7-of-20) with two home runs and seven RBIs over that stretch.
Iannetta has seen his batting average stay steadily in the low .200s throughout the season with 18 strikeouts in 23 games. Yes, their numbers are about the same, but it has been the overall performance in the amount of games that Conger has played this year that should warrant at least a shot as the team’s full-time catcher or as the backstop who gets the majority of the playing time behind the plate between the two.
Conger has been patient as the backup catcher, and it’s time for the Halos to give him a shot to showcase that he can be the team’s catcher not only now but for the future.