Phillies 2019 season preview: Catcher J.T. Realmuto
Will J.T. Realmuto follow in the footsteps of his ex-teammates and dominate with the Phillies? Or will the All-Star regress in 2019?
I have been writing for TBOH for 22 days. And in those 22 days, I have written nine articles (including my application piece). Four of those articles have talked, in some regard, about J.T. Realmuto, and this will be number five. That alone should tell you how excited I am to have this guy on the Phillies.
I caught for half of my baseball career, and I love watching good catchers. Realmuto has the stuff to maintain the mantle of “Best Catcher in Baseball,” a title that Yadier Molina and Buster Posey split for the last decade in my opinion.
2018 was an impressive year at the plate for Realmuto, when comparing him the rest of the catchers in the league. He led all catchers in batting average (.277), doubles (30), hits (132), and OPS (.825), while hitting the third most RBIs (74) and the fourth most home runs (21). He significantly increased his power production, decreasing his at-bats per home run from 31 to 23, and his 21 home runs led the Marlins in 2018.
Of course, Realmuto was expected to shoulder the load of the run production when the Marlins shipped out three of their top four home run/RBI guys from 2017 (Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich). Yet, even with his strikeout rate increasing, his OBP increased due to the 38 walks he drew (8% walk rate).
What makes Realmuto great is his combination of offense and defense, much like Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. **No I’m not saying J.T. = Pudge. Their games are just similar** He has averaged a pop-time of 1.9 seconds over the past 3 years, which is best in the league. He also threw out 35% of stolen base attempts in 2018, finishing second behind defensive-specialist Martin Maldonado. By no means is Realmuto a Roy Campanella-reincarnate, but his athleticism allows him to put up some impressive defensive numbers.