A.J. ELLIS, 31, catcher
Final 2012 stats: .270 batting average, 13 home runs, 52 RBI, .373 on-base and .414 slugging percentages, threw out 33% of base runners.
Contract status: First year of arbitration eligibility.
The good: Had just a terrific season on the field, behind the plate and in the clubhouse. Exceeded all expectations. Saw more pitches per plate appearance (4.44) than any catcher in baseball. Led regulars in on-base percentage. Went all of 2009 and 2010 without hitting a home run at any level, so his 13 homers were a pleasant surprise. Despite this being his first full season in the majors, emerged as an undisputed team leader.
The bad: Like most things, his performance is relative to expectations. And since to most there was an element of the unknown in turning over full-time catching duties to Ellis for the first time, there was really precious little to fret over his 2012 performance. It appeared he was wearing down in mid-September when he suffered through an 0-for-31 slump, but in his final 10 games finished 11-for-33 with a pair of homers and 10 RBI.