Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto joins elite company in MLB history

Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto (Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports)
Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto (Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports) /

Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto joins Iván Rodríguez in making MLB history.

As the Philadelphia Phillies play their most important baseball of the season, star catcher J.T. Realmuto completed one of his greatest career accomplishments in Friday’s series-opening win against the Washington Nationals.

Realmuto stole second and third base off of Nationals starting pitcher Erick Fedde to reach a milestone of 20 stolen bases. The “Best Catcher in Baseball” even stole his third base of the night in the ninth.

Having already slugged 21 home runs, Realmuto joined Iván “Pudge” Rodríguez’s 1999 effort as the only catchers to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in a season. “Pudge” is considered one of the game’s greatest catchers of all time. He even won the MVP award that year — pairing 35 home runs to go along with his 25 steals.

One thing that makes Realmuto’s season stand out is his perfection when he attempts to swipe a bag. He has not been caught in any of his 21 tries in 2022, whereas Pudge’s historic season included a 67 percent success rate in stolen base attempts. Not to say that this is not a respectable number, but Realmuto’s success on the bases — at his position — is simply unheard of in today’s game.

Dating back to last season, the star Phillies catcher finished the campaign with eight consecutive steals without being caught. That adds up to 29 consecutive stolen bases with a caught stealing — an absolutely ridiculous number for a backstop. Even Jason Kendall — known as the modern-day game’s best base-stealer among catchers — stole an 88 percent clip during his most efficient season.

Realmuto’s sneaky speed has been an asset for the Phillies — who are eighth in MLB in stolen bases per game — largely in part thanks to Realmuto. Jean Segura and Bryson Stott are the only other Phillies players who have double-digit stolen bases — 13 and 10, respectively.

Realmuto continues to make a case for why he is one of the best offensive catchers in today’s game. He now gets to have his name written in history books, next to one of his position’s greatest.

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