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2014 in Review: Brayan Pena

I'm a backup catcher! I'm a starting first baseman! I'm a combination backup catcher and starting first baseman!

hurt 'em
hurt 'em
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Brayan Pena, eh? Ever since he signed a 2-year contract we knew the writing was on the wall for one of Ryan Hanigan and Devin Mesoraco (which, GOOD CALL WALT). We knew he kind of had a weird Twitter thing going on, but what we didn't know was how great of a quote he was, how smiley he was, and how much he may or may not have contributed to Aroldis Chapman's killer season by being a constant Cuban presence. It was nice having Pena around in 2014.

And if smiles were walks, Brayan Pena would be an All-Star. They're not, though, and the switch-hitter went .253/.291/.353 in 2014, which is almost exactly what anyone could've expected. What may be a bit more unexpected was that he would set career highs in PAs and every other counting stat (except for HR, oddly enough) as he played in 115 games in his age-32 season. Pena played 53 games at 1B; 49 more than he ever played in all his years before in the Major Leagues. That's enough to make one realize that it's a bad siren over his statline, not a good siren.

As a backup, switch-hitting, catcher, .253/.291/.353 is quite nice. It's garbage as a 1B, though, and combined with heroically awful baserunning (and, to be fair, competent defense) it's a bit of a net loss.

This is, of course, not Pena's fault. I like to imagine that the first time he was penciled in at first base, that he nodded his head towards Donald Lutz's locker. After a week, he wore an "I'M WITH FIRST BASEMAN" t-shirt with a hand pointing to his right. By August, he probably bought a marquee with flickering neon lights pointing at Donald Lutz's locker, with "FIRST BA_EMAN" in fuschia. This all probably happened, and he was stuck at first anyways, not his fault.

Pena's BABIP was a bit low (.272) this year, but the book on him – throw changeups and let him ground out – was written his rookie year. There's a chance he could put up something more like .270/.310/.380 next year and leave Cincinnati well-loved, as a sort of Cuban Love Machine. That would be nice, and would bridge the gap to Tucker Barnhart. That's all we're expecting from him, and I hope he never has to play first base again.