Phillies 2021 Season Player Preview: J.T. Realmuto

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

After posting one of the best offenses in the National League last season in terms of runs scored, the Philadelphia Phillies were in danger of losing a key part of their lineup when J.T. Realmuto hit free agency. For some time, it appeared all but certain that Realmuto would sign elsewhere and the Phillies would be left scrambling to find a suitable starting catcher. Andrew Knapp was a solid backup last season, but he is just that — a backup.

When the New York Mets signed James McCann and other frontrunners bowed out, the Phillies were back in the game and eventually re-signed Realmuto to a five-year, $115 million contract. The “Best Catcher in Baseball” hit .275 in 2019 with the Phillies and set career highs in doubles (36), home runs (25), and RBI (83).

Last season, Realmuto hit 11 homers, which projected to a 30-home run season over 162 games. It goes without saying that Realmuto has been outstanding behind that plate, throwing out a league-leading 47 percent of stolen base attempts in 2019 and 43 percent over the last two seasons. So what is in store for him in 2021?

Predicting how J.T. Realmuto will fare in his third season with the Phillies

It’s somewhat difficult to predict, considering Realmuto was entering free agency last season and he is about to turn 30. For a catcher that has had nagging injuries, that could be a concern moving forward, but should not affect his performance for the first part of his contract.

Realmuto is in an excellent spot in the batting order behind Bryce Harper and likely in front of Alec Bohm, who finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting last season.

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The catcher’s career 162-game averages are 21 home runs, 79 RBI, 84 runs scored, and a .783 OPS. Those numbers would be a fall off from what he’s done in a Phillies uniform. As he is into his prime — in a lineup that can put runs on the board with the best in the National League — expect Realmuto to possibly produce career numbers this coming season.

The key will be for Realmuto to stay healthy and play 140-plus games. If he does, expect 25 to 30 home runs, more than 90 RBI and 90 runs scored, a batting average of .280, and continued stellar defense behind the plate. Add a third All-Star appearance as well and a second Gold Glove Award.

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