The 2022 Substitute-Degree Killers: Catcher


Martin Maldonado
Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports activities

Whereas nonetheless focusing upon groups that meet the free definition of contenders (a .500 report or Playoff Odds of not less than 10%), and which have gotten about 0.6 WAR or much less to date — which prorates to 1.0 WAR over a full season — this yr I’ve integrated our Depth Charts’ rest-of-season WAR projections into the equation for an extra perspective. Typically which will recommend that the group will clear the bar by a big margin, besides, I’ve included them right here as a result of the group’s efficiency at that spot is value a glance.

As famous beforehand, a few of these conditions are extra dire than others, significantly when taken within the context of the remainder of their roster. I don’t count on each group to exit and observe down an improve earlier than the August 2 deadline, and on this batch particularly, I don’t get the sense that any of those groups have these positions atop their buying lists. With catchers, framing and the less-quantifiable elements of realizing a pitching workers make it simpler for groups to speak themselves out of adjusting issues up until an damage scenario has compromised their depth.

All statistics on this article are by means of July 26, although group won-loss information and Playoff Odds are by means of July 27.

2022 Substitute-Degree Killers: Catcher

Cardinals .195 .251 .252 47 -22.2 -3.5 -1.8 -0.8 0.7 -0.1
Astros .166 .235 .312 57 -17.2 -2.3 -4.0 -0.5 0.6 0.1
Guardians .176 .267 .267 55 -17.4 -2.7 2.7 0.1 0.8 0.9
Mets .199 .245 .266 50 -20.3 -3.7 6.4 0.2 0.9 1.1
Pink Sox .251 .307 .373 89 -5.0 -8.6 -1.9 0.4 1.1 1.5
Rays .205 .226 .346 63 -15.2 -0.6 0.9 0.4 1.3 1.7

Statistics by means of July 26. ROS = Relaxation-of-season WAR, by way of our Depth Charts.


Yadier Molina could also be a future Hall of Famer, however his ultimate main league season hasn’t gone easily. The 39-year-old backstop reported late to spring coaching as a result of private causes, then hit simply .213/.225/.294 (46 wRC+) in 138 plate appearances earlier than touchdown on the injured listing with proper knee irritation in mid-June. With the group’s permission, he quickly returned to his native Puerto Rico, a transfer that did not escape the notice of his teammates, who worth his presence and management even when he’s not capable of play as much as his earlier requirements. Molina lastly started a rehab task on Monday.

In Molina’s absence, the Cardinals have began Andrew Knizner behind the plate 51 instances, and he’s reminded them that even by the requirements of backup catchers, he leaves one thing to be desired. The 27-year-old has hit .199/.291/.248 (64 wRC+) and is 5.5 runs beneath common in our framing metric; his WARs have now been within the pink for all 4 of his main league seasons, with a complete of -1.7 in simply 443 PA. Baseball Prospectus’ complete defensive metrics put him 5.2 runs beneath common for his framing, blocking, and throwing as nicely. His backup, Austin Romine, owns a 47 wRC+ whereas catching for 4 groups over the previous three seasons; his most notable accomplishment as a Cardinal is in becoming a member of Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado among the many ranks of unvaccinated players who have been unable to journey to Canada for this week’s two-game collection in opposition to the Blue Jays.

Again in June, St. Louis gave a glance to Molina’s inheritor obvious, Iván Herrera, who entered the season at no. 75 on our Top 100 Prospects list and has hit .295/.385/.432 at Triple-A. The 22-year-old Panamanian has a plus arm and probably a plus hit software in addition to common uncooked energy; his framing is beneath common and his receiving common. He was referred to as as much as exchange Romine for the Toronto collection however didn’t play.

With the commerce market not providing a number of apparent options (an intradivision commerce for Willson Contreras in all probability isn’t an choice), the Cardinals, who’ve gone simply 24–26 in June and July however are nonetheless entrenched within the second Wild Card spot, would in all probability be higher off pairing Molina with Herrera than Knizner or Romine. One attainable choice is Oakland’s Sean Murphy, who might be arbitration eligible for the primary time this winter and who positioned thirty seventh on our Trade Value list; he might pair with Herrera for the subsequent yr or two and nonetheless be dealt whereas having membership management remaining.


The Astros love them some Martín Maldonado, a lot in order that he’s on his second go-round with the group and has began 71 instances regardless of hitting an unfathomably low .172/.238/.344 (66 wRC+) in 251 PA. Revered for his game-calling and his dealing with of younger pitchers, he’s nonetheless 1.7 runs beneath common by our framing numbers en path to zero WAR; by BP’s numbers, he’s 2.8 runs above common for all of his protection, good for 0.2 WARP.

One motive why Maldonado is taking part in a lot is that Jason Castro, who’s additionally on his second stint with the Astros, hit simply .115/.205/.179 in 34 PA earlier than touchdown on the IL with left knee irritation, and he apparently isn’t progressing as anticipated. In his absence, the group has gotten its first take a look at 2019 first-round decide Korey Lee, who positioned 97th on our Prime 100 listing within the spring however hasn’t blown anybody away along with his offensive efficiency at Triple-A Sugar Land (.226/.285/.419, 69 wRC+). Lee has a 70-grade arm and plus uncooked energy, however his hit software is suspect (30/35), as is his receiving and blocking as a result of his low setup.

The Astros are among the many groups that has checked in on Contreras, however they may go for a lower-cost depth piece. In the event that they go that route, one title to control is that of Robinson Chirinos, who has hit for only a 47 wRC+ this yr with the Orioles however who spent 2019 with the Astros, placing up massive numbers (17 HR, 112 wRC+, 2.3 WAR) in serving to them attain the World Sequence.


Cleveland is right here for the third straight yr and second straight with Austin Hedges because the common, which tells you that the group nearly actually received’t do something about it. Hedges is hitting .177/.237/.286 for a 48 wRC+, which along with his above-average framing (3.1 runs) will get him again to 0.0 WAR by our measures. BP, in the meantime, credit him with 7.9 framing runs (third within the majors), 7.6 defensive runs general, and a full 1.0 WARP, so it’s truthful to say there’s sufficient distinction within the metrics to solid doubt about whether or not he really belongs right here, even given his lack of offense. On that be aware, Luke Maile has been a bit extra productive (.191/.297/.277, 68 wRC+) in far much less taking part in time (111 PA versus 194 for Hedges) as a result of he walks twice as typically and has the next BABIP, however he’s not on Hedges’ degree as a defender.

The group does have a few upper-level catching prospects of be aware. Bryan Lavastida is a 23-year-old transformed shortstop who has risen shortly because of the strides he’s made defensively and is taken into account a forty five+ FV prospect. He’s a viable receiver who has picked up the mechanics of catching shortly, and on the plate he has common uncooked energy and controls the strike zone nicely. He hasn’t been capable of replicate final yr’s breakout on the plate, hitting .225/.320/.372 (88 wRC+) at Triple-A Columbus, and in a short massive league look in April, he went 1-for-12 with three walks.

In the meantime, 2018 first-round decide Bo Naylor (youthful brother of Josh) is a 50 FV prospect who has rebounded from a tough 2021 at Double-A Akron to hit a mixed .283/.434/.510 with 10 homers in 220 PA break up between Akron and Columbus. The 22-year-old Naylor lacks defensive polish however has plus uncooked energy and is creating so shortly on the offensive aspect that he may be on a path to turning into a multipositional participant who can catch and play third base and an outfield nook. It wouldn’t be a shock if he or Lavastida will get an extended look from the Guardians down the stretch.


James McCann has been restricted to 30 video games as a result of a fractured hamate and an indirect pressure, and he’s struggled when obtainable, hitting .183/.250/.293 (60 wRC+). Tomás Nido has finished the majority of the work with McCann out, beginning 54 video games and batting .217/.258/.246 (49 wRC+), with Patrick Mazeika serving as his backup, beginning 17 instances and hitting .169/.197/.288 (38 wRC+). Nido’s protection measures out at 7.6 runs above common by way of BP, along with his framing 3.2 runs above common by way of our measures.

McCann is anticipated to start a rehab task on Thursday and to return later subsequent week. Given his contract (he’s within the second yr of a four-year, $40.6 million deal), he figures to return to common responsibility. The query is whether or not he’l be joined by Francisco Álvarez, who was seventh on our Prime 100 listing this spring and due to graduations currently tops THE BOARD. Alvarez is simply 20 years previous however possesses an method on the plate that’s mature past his years in addition to plus-plus uncooked energy. Whereas he’s bought a robust arm, he’s extra of a piece in progress behind the plate. After hitting .277/.368/.553 (146 wRC+) with 18 homers in 296 PA at Double-A Binghamton, he’s struggled in his first style of Triple-A (.118/.333/.265 in 48 PA). Lengthy story quick, he’s not prepared to assist but, and a commerce for Contreras, whom the Mets are reportedly pursuing, appears extra possible than his call-up. As fallbacks go, Curt Casali may be an choice if the Giants (who’ve fallen to 48–50 with 22.8% Playoff Odds) promote; he’s been out since July 4 as a result of an indirect pressure however started a rehab task with Triple-A Sacramento on Wednesday.

Pink Sox

After dipping to a 77 wRC+ and 0.4 WAR final yr, Christian Vázquez has rebounded, hitting .277/.323/.431 (108 wRC+), which in Boston’s spotty lineup makes him a good option to fill in at first base on days he’s not catching; he’s made 4 begins there. Not a framing star, his defensive work is trending nearer to common, and his 1.0 WAR ranks nineteenth amongst gamers who’ve spent greater than 50% of their time as catchers.

The Pink Sox’s downside right here isn’t Vázquez a lot as it’s his backups, as Kevin Plawecki and Connor Wong have mixed for -0.4 WAR on the place. Almost all of that’s on the previous, who in 104 PA has hit .187/.286/.264 (58 wRC+), just about canceling out the meager achieve from Vázquez filling in for the unproductive tandem of Bobby Dalbec and Franchy Cordero at first. The 26-year-old Wong, who’s made simply 9 journeys to the plate this yr, initiatives to supply extra offense (.238/.285/.406 by way of our Depth Charts) and might play stable protection, a mixture that not less than deserves an extended look.

Amid a 2–11 skid and a 6–17 July, the Pink Sox have fallen beneath .500 (49–50), 5 video games out of the third AL Wild Card spot however nonetheless with a 22% likelihood of creating the playoffs. Their slide makes it more and more possible that they’ll be sellers on the deadline. In the event that they go that route, Vázquez, a pending free agent, would have loads of potential touchdown spots, as you may see from this listing.


Mike Zunino performed in simply 36 video games this yr, hitting .148/.195/.304 earlier than touchdown on the injured listing on June 10 with what was described as left shoulder irritation. Quickly after, he was identified with thoracic outlet syndrome, and earlier this week, the Rays revealed that he would bear season-ending surgical procedure to alleviate the situation. He’s not the one Rays catcher who’s injured, both; Francisco Mejía, who has began 42 video games and hit .258/.265/.423, landed on the IL this week as a result of proper shoulder impingement.

That leaves 25-year-old rookie René Pinto, who’s began 16 instances, and 30-year-old journeyman Christian Bethancourt, who’s began 5 instances since being acquired from Oakland, because the group’s present catching tandem. Pinto, who positioned twentieth on the team’s prospect list in March, is a 40+ FV prospect who has an above-average arm and common uncooked energy and initiatives as a bat-first backup. Bethancourt, whose journey has included an experiment as a pitcher and a detour to the KBO, has hit .242/.291/.382 (95 wRC+) with average-ish framing and 0.6 WAR, making him a superbly cromulent stopgap to pair with Mejia, whom the group hopes will return in two weeks. Nonetheless, it wouldn’t be a shock if the Rays have been the group to land Contreras given the depth of their farm system, or Casali given his 2014–17 run within the group.

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