Phillies 2024 Season Preview: C J.T. Realmuto

Even with a slight slow in production for the Phillies backstop, projections still expect a very productive year for the three-time All-Star.
Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto
Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

The next entry in our Philadelphia Phillies 2024 Season Preview series is catcher J.T. Realmuto.

Previous season previews: José AlvaradoAndrew BellattiAlec BohmConnor BrogdonNick CastellanosRodolfo CastroKody ClemensJake CaveDylan CoveySeranthony DomínguezKolby AllardBryce HarperJeff HoffmanOrion Kerkering, Rafael MarchánBrandon MarshYunior Marte, Michael Mercado, McKinley Moore, Max Castillo, Nick Nelson, Aaron Nola, Luis Ortiz, Cristian Pache

We'll examine Realmuto's 2023 season and then evaluate projections for the 2024 season using the Steamer and ZiPS projection systems, which can be found on FanGraphs.

J.T Realmuto 2023 stats and 2024 projections

2023 Stats: 135 G, 540 PA, 20 HR, 63 RBI, 16 SB, .252/.310/.452, .762 OPS, 3.6 WAR

2024 Steamer: 121 G, 492 PA, 18 HR, 63 RBI, 13 SB, .252/.319/.435, .754 OPS, 2.6 WAR

2024 ZiPS DC: 130 G, 513 PA, 17 HR, 65 RBI, 11 SB, .247/.315/.424, .739 OPS, 2.7 WAR

J.T. Realmuto 2024 Season Preview

While J.T. Realmuto took a step back last season from his 2022 campaign that saw him finish in the top seven in MVP voting, the Phillies backstop was still a crucial part of the lineup both offensively and defensively in 2023.

The 32-year-old was a staple in the middle of the order, hitting primarily in the fifth or sixth spot, giving above-average production from the catcher position. Realmuto also played in over 130 games for the fourth time in five seasons, only dropping below that mark in the shortened 2020 season.

Realmuto's defensive wizardry and postseason prowess led him to a solid season, collecting 3.6 fWAR. The three-time All-star is one of the best in the league at holding runners and controlling the running game, leading to much more value than what shows on the surface level. His consistency and all-around game allow the Phillies to lean on him without worrying about their catcher.

A re-run for Realmuto in 2024

Both the ZiPS DC and Steamer projections see a very similar year to his 2023 season for Realmuto. The former Marlin projects to stay around a .250 average with an OPS of around .760. Even when looking at some of the deeper advanced statistics, there isn't much deviation.

An issue that Realmuto faced last season was his jump in strikeout rate to 25.6 percent, five percent higher than his career mark. This led to a drop in walk rate, below his average of 6.6 percent. In 2024, he projects to wrangle those numbers back closer to his career averages, gaining about a percentage point for walks and losing more than one for strikeouts.

Expectations are that he will finish with similar overall counting stats if he can be the workhorse he has been for the Phillies the last five seasons. With close to 20 home runs, close to 65 RBI, and 24 to 25 doubles, his basic statistics for 2024 will be almost on par with the value he has contributed in the past few years.

Realmuto's calling card once again will be his elite-level defensive play. The 10-year vet is third among active leaders for caught stealing percentage (33.8 percent), with close to 400 more attempts than the two catchers above him.

Projections don't know the whole story for Realmuto

The projection systems take a ton of different metrics, regression data, and overall career marks into account to help create projections. One thing they don't take into account is new news coming out of spring training.

In a recent piece for The Athletic, Matt Gelb broke down some adjustments that J.T. Realmuto and the Phillies hitting staff have been working on throughout the offseason (subscription required).

A big problem that Realmuto and hitting coach Kevin Long saw was his inability to hit inside velocity. When working in the Phillies' biometrics lab, he saw that his open stance and high leg kick hindered his view of the strike zone, causing his chase rate to increase, as we mentioned earlier.

While Realmuto posted close to career lows in OBP, OPS+, and OPS, it doesn't seem like a case of typical regression. There were things in his swing and setup that created problems, and he knows that. If he can adjust, he can be right back in the mix with the best-hitting catchers in the league.

According to Gelb, Realmuto hit in the lab three times a week, worked with former big leaguers, and finally opened up to the intense amount of data and technology that could help his game.

"I don't want to regress with age," Realmuto said, per Gelb. "I don't want to be one of the catchers who they're like, 'Oh, you know, at 34 or 35, he really fell off ...'"

Nobody in Philadelphia wants that, either. Projections point to above-average catcher play in 2024, and Realmuto wants to stay at the perennial All-Star level for years to come.