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Head Games: Should we believe Evan Gattis' DH/C splits?

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Evan Gattis has put up significantly better numbers at the plate when he is catching versus playing DH, but is it just a sample size issue?

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

After being traded from the Atlanta Braves to the Houston Astros prior to the 2015 season, Evan Gattis hung up his catching gear and played almost exclusively DH. In 2016, the Astros have asked Gattis to break out the catcher's mitt and mask once again, and he has been the team's backup catcher for most of the season while still getting starts at DH.

Many fans have noted that Gattis seems to have his best games at the plate when he is squatting behind home plate instead of sitting in the dugout while the opposing team bats. At first, I shrugged this off as a small sample size issue. However, I recently glanced at his splits and was surprised to see that the differential is still quite noticeable after playing over 30 games as catcher this year.

Here are the splits for Gattis in 2016:

Position G PA AVG OBP SLG HR OPS BABIP
Catcher 33 132 .282 .318 .645 12 .963 .267
DH 53 210 .202 .276 .335 6 .611 .264

The splits for his career are similar though not quite as extreme:

Position G PA AVG OBP SLG HR OPS BABIP
Catcher 164 669 .260 .311 .524 42 .834 .276
DH 194 788 .235 .282 .423 31 .704 .268

I included BABIP to show that the disparity isn't due to "BABIP luck" since his BABIP splits are pretty close.

So what do we make of this? I don't claim to have the answer. I recall hearing last year that Gattis enjoyed being able to focus on hitting and studying up on opposing pitchers during the game. But perhaps Gattis is more of a natural hitter who should think less and let his instincts take over. It must be odd to play in the field your entire baseball career (even going back to little league) and suddenly find yourself sitting in the dugout for entire innings in a row.

It could just be a sample size issue for 2016, but his career numbers show similar splits. Perhaps it just took some time for the league to adjust to him, and so his best years came with the Braves when he was catching.

What do you think? (Not that I really had to ask.)