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mets countdown

Mets Countdown: No. 17, Rod Barajas

The start of the baseball season is less than a month away. Every weekday until opening day, we'll be counting down, from No. 20 to No. 1, the most important Mets players for the upcoming 2010 slate. Today, No. 17, catcher Rod Barajas.

As we've mentioned and you might have noticed, the Mets have a veritable cornucopia of catchers this year — five on one-year contracts. The leader of that group is Rod Barajas, signed in February, essentially as the fill-in for Bengie Molina, originally the leader of the quintet (or sextet) of catchers.

Barajas is one of those players who would have been thought better of if the world hadn't heard of advanced statistics. His peripherals look good: nineteen homers last year, 34 percent of opposing base-stealers gunned down. But the man never, ever walks. You know how Jeff Francoeur has a reputation as a wild, free swinger? Francoeur walked three more times last year than Barajas did, albeit it in 150 or so more at bats. You can get away with that, temporarily, if you hit .311 like Francoeur did with the Mets. Barajas hit .226 for Toronto. Barajas is an extremely slow runner, but with an OBP like that, you'll barely have the chance to notice.

That said: Those nineteen homers are seven more than anyone on the Mets hit last year, and he's only around for one season. Biographical fact, by the way: Barajas, 34, is older than we are by one month, and already has six children with his wife, Aubrielle. In fact, the youngest turns 3 years old this summer. Those Barajases, they don't waste any time.

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Photo: Doug Benc/Getty Images