Is Phillies' J.T. Realmuto a Hall of Fame catcher?

The star backstop is widely regarded as one of the best in the game, but is he on a path to the Hall of Fame?
Is Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto a worthy Hall of Fame candidate?
Is Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto a worthy Hall of Fame candidate? / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

There's little debate that the Philadelphia Phillies have one of the best all-around catchers in MLB after witnessing the unique skill set that J.T. Realmuto has showcased over his six seasons in a Phillies uniform.

Before heading to the IL for right knee surgery, Realmuto had been slotted into the No. 2 spot in the batting order and had been doing a remarkable job at the dish filling in for Trea Turner.

2024 has been a resurgent season for the 33-year-old backstop. In 207 at-bats, Realmuto is batting .261 with 54 hits, seven home runs, and 20 RBI. In 2023, it took him a while to get hot at the plate, but he eventually put together his third season with 20-plus home runs in a Phillies uniform and stole 16 bases, the second-highest mark of his 11-year career after he stole 21 bags in 2022. How many catchers are a threat on the base paths like Realmuto?

It's not just Realmuto's contributions as a hitter that have earned him near-universal praise as one of the game's premier catchers. A two-time Gold Glove Award winner (2019, 2022), Realmuto has the ability to handle a pitching staff, control the running game and provide elite defense. Phillies fans got a nice reminder recently when Realmuto helped execute a difficult 1-2-3 double play last week against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Is Phillies' J.T. Realmuto a Hall of Fame catcher?

J.T. Realmuto's play during the last home stand created quite a buzz after his impressive double play, the excellent tag he placed on a hard-sliding Oliver Dunn at the plate in the 10th inning to save a run, and the unfortunate foul ball that he took off his protective cup that caused men in Philadelphia to collectively wince in horror. Realmuto once again proved he is as tough as they come and stayed in the game.

Is Realmuto a future Hall of Famer? This very question circulated on local sports talk radio and social media last week. Looking at his career numbers as they currently stand, the answer is no.

But the thought of Realmuto going to Cooperstown becomes an interesting case when you look at his 162-game average per Baseball Reference and plug in the numbers for an additional five seasons using his current career statistics as a starting point.

Realmuto doesn't look like he's going to slow down or let himself go anytime soon, so for this exercise, we'll calculate his future numbers and see where they would rank against a list of Hall of Fame catchers. As of right now, Realmuto is a career .272 hitter with 1,190 hits, 161 home runs, 598 RBI and 95 stolen bases with a bWAR of 34.6.

If he were to match his 162-game averages for an additional five seasons, he would wind up with 2,000 hits, 271 home runs, 1,003 RBI and 160 stolen bases.

Where would Realmuto rank among Hall of Fame catchers?

If Realmuto's career batting average held at .272, he would enter the Hall of Fame with the fifth-lowest batting average of currently enshrined catchers. He would find himself slightly ahead of notable names like Johnny Bench (.267), Carlton Fisk (.269) and Gary Carter (.262). A low batting average doesn't exactly hurt a catcher's chance at induction, but many carry averages of .280 and higher.

If Realmuto were to arrive at 2,000 career hits, he would have the ninth-most hits of any catcher in Cooperstown. Iván Rodriguez is tops on the list with 2,844 hits in his career, and there's little chance Realmuto would ever get anywhere close to that mark.

Looking at other inductees' career numbers, 2,000 hits would leave him just short of Bench's 2,048 and slightly ahead of Bill Dickey, who connected for 1,169 hits during his career. It would make for an interesting case if Realmuto can manage an additional 810 hits.

Mike Piazza's 427 home runs is a milestone that's well out of reach for Realmuto and probably will stand as the most by a catcher for a very long time. If the Phillies catcher could manage to hit an additional 110 home runs and reach 271 for his career, he would rank seventh all-time among Hall of Fame catchers. That mark would leave him just behind Rodriguez (311) and ahead of Ted Simmons (248).

Yogi Berra's 1,430 career RBI rank as the most by any catcher in the history of baseball. If Realmuto were to reach 1,003, he would rank 10th all-time on this list, and find himself ahead of notable names like Roy Campanella (856) and the recently elected Joe Mauer (923). That would take some healthy seasons to achieve without taking a step back as a hitter.

Additionally, if Realmuto could reach 160 stolen bases, he would rank fourth out of all Hall of Fame catchers. That would place him in pretty rare territory of being known as one of the most athletic catchers with a plaque in Cooperstown. Realmuto only has one stolen base on the season, so he seems to be moving in a different direction as a base runner in 2024.

All told, it's fun to ponder if Realmuto can make a Hall of Fame case for himself with a few more seasons of consistent production. He's a catcher who plays over 130 games a season, so obviously some of these potential career milestones are unlikely.

The role he plays on the field almost guarantees wear and tear and future IL stints. But if anything, it's a fun look at what it would probably take across the board for Realmuto to catch the attention of future voters. At worst, there's a wall in Citizens Bank Park that will one day have his name on it. That's certainly not up for debate.