Phillies 2020 Season Player Grades: J.T. Realmuto

J.T. Realmuto #10 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
J.T. Realmuto #10 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /

Grading catcher J.T. Realmuto’s 2020 season with the Phillies

Catcher J.T Realmuto is a superstar, and the Philadelphia Phillies were lucky to have him for the past two seasons. Really, what more is there to say?

In 2019, Realmuto was unbelievable. He was the lone Phillies All-Star that season, and he somehow managed to outshine newly signed superstar Bryce Harper. The first Phillies player to win a Gold Glove since Jimmy Rollins in 2012 and the first to win a Silver Slugger since Chase Utley in 2009, Realmuto finished the season with 5.7 fWAR. Fittingly, many dubbed Realmuto thereafter as the “best catcher in baseball.”

Realmuto doesn’t have the hardware to prove it, but he was just as good in 2020. While he didn’t win any major awards, Realmuto was still the all-around best catcher in the National League. Unfortunately, injuries and a harsh schedule full of doubleheaders limited him to just 35 starts behind the plate, which greatly affected his season statistics and his chances to win any of the major awards.

Realmuto was an excellent hitter in 2020. He had a career-high .840 OPS AND .361 wOBA. He was on pace to hit more than 30 home runs in a 162-game season, which would have been a career-high as well. Realmuto isn’t just a good hitter for a catcher, he’s a good hitter period. That’s a key part of his value, because on days when he couldn’t catch, he was still able to fill in at first base or the designated hitter position for the Phillies.

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Realmuto was also very valuable on the base paths. For the fifth season in a row, he led all MLB catchers in FanGraphs’ baserunning statistic, BsR. As usual, it wasn’t even a close race (no pun intended). In 2020, only six out of 67 total catchers ran the bases faster than the league average. Out of those six, two were Phillies: Andrew Knapp and, of course, Realmuto.

Realmuto was not as valuable on defense as he was in 2019. He was still excellent, but anything less than the best counts as disappointing for him. He was not even named as one of the three finalists for the National League Gold Glove Award. This is not because Realmuto declined this past season, it is just because he played fewer games. In 2019, he started more than 80 percent of the Phillies’ games at catcher. In 2020, that number was down to less than 60 percent.

C. Philadelphia Phillies. J.T. REALMUTO. A.

A huge part of Realmuto’s defensive value comes from his durability. He’s extremely valuable because he’s able to play more often than the average catcher. This season, unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

Realmuto only played in three-quarters of the season for the Phillies, but he was still, arguably, the best position player on the team. In fact, he’s the most talented player to suit up for the Phillies since prime Chase Utley. He’s an A-grade player, and he deserves a contract that reflects that. Your move, Dave Dombrowski.

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