Sep 7, 2015

Former Mets Catcher: Rod Barajas (2010)

Rodrigo Richard Barajas was born on September 5th, 1975 in Ontario, Canada. He was originally signed in December 1996 by the Arizona Diamondbacks. 

Barajas never hit for high average but shows occasional power & most notably plays a fine defensive backstop position.

Barajas came up briefly with the Diamondbacks in their glory days of the late nineties early 2000’s. He debuted in 1999, seeing action in just ten games in his first two seasons, he did not commit an error behind the plate in any of those games. In the 2001 Arizona Championship season, he hit only .160 with 3 HRs & 9 RBIs in 51 games.

Post Season: He got to play in the World Series catching pitcher Miguel Batista in Game #5 in New York. In the top of the 5th inning he hit a HR off Mike Mussina.

After the Championship he remained in Arizona for two more seasons as the back up to Damian Miller & Chad Moller. In 2004 Barajas signed with the Texas Rangers as a free agent, he got the starting catchers job when Gerald Laird was sidelined with a sprained thumb. That season he hit 15 HRs with 58 RBIs & a career high 26 doubles.

He had his best season in 2005 hitting 21 HRs with 104 hits 24 doubles & 60 RBIs while batting .254. Behind the plate in 94 games, he threw out 34% of would be base stealers (5th best in the league) & posted a .984 fielding percentage, making ten errors which led the AL. In 97 games in 2006 he hit 11 HRs with 20 doubles while batting .256.

He was supposed to sign a deal to play in his home country of Ontario in 2007, with the Blue Jays but backed out the deal when he switched agents.

He ended up going to Philadelphia for one season with the Phillies as Carlos Ruiz’s back up. The next year he ended up coming home to Toronto anyway, signing as a back up to catcher Greg Zaun. Barajas soon won the starting catching position by winning the confidence of his manager, Cito Gaston.

In 2009 he led the AL by catching 120 games behind the plate, throwing out 34% of runners attempting to steal, while making 55 assists & making 8 errors (most in the league). He hit only .226 but had 19 HRs with a career high 71 RBIs. That year he also played for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. For the 2010 season, the journey man catcher signed a one year deal with the New York Mets to share catching duties with Henry Blanco.

During Spring Training, Barajas was named the Opening Day catcher. He debuted with two hits & an RBI in the Mets 7-1 win over the Florida Marlins. In the fourth game of the year he hit a pair of HRs in Citi Field leading the Mets to an 8-2 win over the Washington Nationals.

As many of his team mates were having a hard time hitting HRs out of the big ballpark, Barajas seemed to have no trouble with it.

When the Mets made their first road trip to Philadelphia, Barajas hit two HRs driving in three runs in the April 30th’ 9-1 Mets win. The next day he returned to hit yet another round tripper. On May 7th he hit two HRs back in New York including the first walk off HR in Citi Field history. It came in a game against the San Francisco Giants, all of a sudden by mid May; Rod Barajas was leading the NL in HRs.

After hitting two more HRs in May, he slowed down & didn’t hit another HR until July 21st. Although in mid August he was still leading all NL catchers in HRs with 12.

 Barajas saw most of the action behind the plate for New York, but rookie Josh Thole slowly began easing his way in to the lineup. Behind the plate he only threw out 15% of would be base stealers but only made three errors in 540 chances, posting a .996 fielding% which was second best in the NL.

On August 22nd his contract was purchased by the Los Angeles Dodgers as they were in desperate need for a catcher. For the Mets he hit .225 with 12 HRs 11 doubles & 34 RBIs as well as scoring 30 runs.

In Los Angeles he hit .297 with 5 HRs through the rest of the season. In 2011 he was the Dodgers main catcher, sharing time with Dioner Navarro.

In 2012 he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates & became the teams main catcher. He played in 104 games hitting 11 HRs with 11 doubles & 31 RBIs but hit just .206.

He threw out just 6% of would be base stealers & allowed the most stolen bases in the league with 93. He was granted free agency at the end of the season. He signed on with the Arizona D-backs but was released in Spring Training 2013.

In his 14 year career, Barajas hit .235 with 812 hits 136 HRs 187 doubles & 480 RBIs with a .284 on base % in 1114 games.

Behind the plate he caught in 1065 games (97th all time), throwing out 28% of base stealers trying to steal. He posted a .993 fielding % (29th all time) with just 51 errors in 7220 chances.

Family: He & his wife have six children.

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