Geovany Soto's rookie year was the best by a catcher since Mike Piazza and his 35 home runs in 1993. Cubs fans are wondering if he will do it again.
History suggests that he will. In the past 20 years preceding Soto's outstanding 2008 season, there have been 12 catchers to receive votes in the Rookie of the Year ballot. Eleven of those 12 catchers went on to increase their productivity when you examine their per-game averages.
Charles Johnson is the one exception to an improved second season by the group of catchers. Although his power numbers were essentially even (11 HR and 39 RBI as a rookie; 13 HR and 37 RBI in his second year), his batting average dropped dramatically (from .251 to .218).
Three other catchers (Piazza, Sandy Alomar Jr., and Bengie Molina) saw lower total numbers in their second year, but this was largely due to injury. Their per-game averages remained about even, with one exception: Sandy Alomar Jr.'s batting average dropped from .290 to .217.
If Soto is to emulate any of the past outstanding rookie catchers, he only needs to look as far back as 2007, when Russell Martin moved from an outstanding rookie to a star. In his second season, Martin nearly doubled his home runs, and increased his runs and RBI by 22, as well as increasing his average from .282 to .291.
Overall, the 12 catchers averaged about a 15 percent rise in their overall offensive performance. As such, I predict the following numbers for Soto this season:
R HR RBI H BA
75 26 98 162 .306