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Extending David Ross A Wise Move For Braves

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It seems like a minor story at first: the news that the Braves have extended backup catcher David Ross Through 2012 at an affordable price of $1.625 million per year. But there is a reason that Braves fans at Talking Chop were uniformly ecstatic to hear that Ross would be a Brave for two more seasons. Ross isn't just a good backup catcher; he's a good catcher, period.

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Over the past two seasons, Ross has been worth 2.6 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), according to FanGraphs. That figure ranks 16th in all of baseball in WAR the past two seasons, meaning Ross has been worth more than half the starting catchers in baseball, all while getting less than half the playing time. If he had received the normal starter's amount of playing time (~500 plate appearances), and produced at the same level, he would have been worth 5.3 WAR, which would have ranked 5th in all of baseball among catchers.

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That's just awesome, especially when combined with the production of Brian McCann, who ranks as the second-most valuable catcher in baseball the last two years (and most valuable this year).

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From the monetary side, Ross has been worth (again, according to FanGraphs) $11.7 million so far with the Braves. He was paid $1.4 million last year and will be paid $1.6 million this year. That means that even if Ross adds no extra value over the rest of the season (which is unlikely), he will have still provided the Braves with about $9 million of extra value in 2009 and 2010. With only a slight pay raise in 2011-2012, Ross will likely be a similar bargain for the remainder of his deal. Even if his production dips for the remainder of the contract, he is still all but guaranteed to be worth $3.25 million over two seasons.

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Congratulations to Ross on his extension, and to Frank Wren on getting it done at such an affordable price.

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Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.