Jorge Alfaro’s arm only redeeming quality for Phillies catchers

jtown
PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 27: Jorge Alfaro #38 of the Philadelphia Phillies hits a two run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park on April 27, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Braves 7-3. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 27: Jorge Alfaro #38 of the Philadelphia Phillies hits a two run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park on April 27, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Braves 7-3. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

Phillies catchers have been a major weak point for the team this year, but Jorge Alfaro’s cannon arm is one redeeming quality.

The Phillies chose to lean heavily on their youth this season at several positions, one of which was catcher. Jorge Alfaro is just 24 years old; his backup, Andrew Knapp, is 26. 2017 was the first time either player spent extended time in the majors.

This year, neither player has performed particularly well at the plate. Alfaro has racked up 38 strikeouts in 82 plate appearances. His 46.3 percent strikeout is the highest among National League hitters with 80 or more plate appearances. He has a .211 batting average with three home runs and .597 OPS.

Alfaro’s performance has picked up recently, racking up eight hits in his last seven games. Two of his three home runs have come in this span. However, his strikeout rate in this span is still 46.4 percent.

More from Phillies News

Knapp has not been any better at the plate, posting a .180/.281/.220 line in 18 games. His walk rate is good at 12.3 percent, but he still has a strikeout rate of 36.8 percent. Knapp has just one extra-base hit so far this season.

Defense has not been Knapp’s strong suit either. He has already matched his season total from last year in errors (4). Knapp has been worth 1.0 fielding runs below average.

Much of that is due to his struggles framing as he has been worth -0.9 framing runs.

On the other hand, Alfaro’s defense has been a major plus point this year. He has been worth 2.7 fielding runs above average this season. His pitch framing got considerably better compared to last year, as he is worth 1.6 framing runs.

Where Alfaro has truly shined behind the plate has been with his arm. It was easily his best tool when he was a prospect, and he has shown why in the majors.

More from That Balls Outta Here

Alfaro showed his ability to catch base stealers Sunday, nabbing two in the second inning. His second to catch Andrew Stevenson was thrown at 88.2 miles per hour, the second-fastest throw to catch anyone stealing this year according to Statcast. Alfaro also possesses the fastest throw in this category, nabbing J.T. Realmuto with an 89.6 mph throw last Monday against the Marlins.

Alfaro’s arm is the strongest of any catcher this year, averaging 90.1 mph according to Statcast. He had the highest arm strength of any catcher last year as well.

Having someone like Alfaro behind the plate has been a boon to the pitching staff in helping keep runners from stealing. Jake Arrieta explained that all he had to do Sunday was give Alfaro the chance to make those throws: [quote via Matt Breen of Philly.com]

"“I was trying to be quick to the plate. I knew those guys were going to try to run, and Alfaro’s really good back there. He made two extremely good throws, two pretty good base runners. It’s just one of those situations where you have to be mindful that they’re probably going to try and take second base. Give him a chance to throw a guy out, and that’s what I was able to do and he held up his end of the bargain, which you expect from a guy like that who’s got such a great arm.”"

Next: Odubel Herrera's historic streak by the numbers

Even though Alfaro has not been a strong offensive player, that isn’t the primary thing you look for in a catcher. The hitting may come in time, but the fact that he already is so strong defensively is a strong sign for his future.

facebooktwitterreddit