Derek Norris had a rough offensive year in 2012, his first extended big league experience. After being acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Gio Gonzalez deal Norris was thrust into the starting catcher role after fan favorite Kurt Suzuki was traded to the Nationals in a later deal. The A’s would later claim George Kottaras to platoon with Norris. However, the organization still believes Norris can be the catcher of the future even after the huge addition of John Jaso.
Norris was scouted as a low batting average high on base percentage type hitter and it proved to be correct last season. Even though his on base percentage was not high, Norris’ patience proved vital at times during the season leading to extended at bats and a base hit or walk every once in awhile. While I mentioned earlier today that sophomore slumps do occur in Norris’ case he pretty much was at rock bottom offensively in 2012 and therefore only can improve with some seasoning in 2013.
Part of the reason for the low offensive numbers for Norris could be the adjustment of accustoming himself to a new pitching staff. For a young catcher trying to plant his feet in the Major Leagues the hardest part is gaining a rapport with your pitching staff. When the pitching staff is made of mostly young guns the learning curve steepens. The only way to improve on both sides of the ball for Norris is time and practice.
Manager Bob Melvin, a former catcher in his own right, will continue to work with Norris on his defensive capabilities. Fresh in all A’s fans minds is last season’s playoff exit to the Detroit Tigers. One of the main reasons the A’s lost was because of poor defense. Norris let too many ball go past him due to lack of reaction time or bad fundamentals. The good news about this is that Norris’ defense will only get better with experience and practice.
Derek Norris is young and has a good chance to be the A’s everyday catcher for years to come. His offense is certainly not above average but he will occasionally get on base or hit a home run which is a plus considering the amount of offense the A’s have seen from the catching position in recent years. If he can continue to improve in 2013 and get some help from fellow platoon partner John Jaso Norris may have a chance to become a special player for the Green and Gold for years to come.