Phillies J.T.Realmuto off to a rough start

by Marc Narducci | May 23, 2022
Phillies J.T.Realmuto off to a rough start

During his first three full seasons with the Phillies, catcher J.T. Realmuto has been a productive two-way player, who has earned two All-Star appearances, one Gold Glove and one Silver Slugger award (There was no All-Star game in 2020 due to the shortened season).

It’s been quite a resume for Realmuto. So now that he is slumping, should there be concern about his skills deteriorating?

It’s a question often asked of catchers because of playing such a demanding position.

Realmuto turned 31 in March. In January of 2021, he signed a five-year $115 million contract, averaging $23.1 million a season. That means he will have three years remaining on the contract after this season.

Entering the week, Realmuto was batting .224 with two home runs and nine RBI. He had just a .298 on-base percentage, a .613 OPS and a 79 OPS+ (where the league average is 100).

Again, this is only over a quarter of this year’s MLB season.

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One thing that has been brought up is whether the Phillies are using Realmuto too much. A reason he has played so much as a Phillie is that there has been a major drop-off when he wasn’t in the lineup.

Andrew Knapp was his backup the previous three seasons. In those seasons, Knapp’s slash line (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) was .201/.297/.303. His OPS+ was 62.
Compare that to Realmuto’s over those three seasons - .267/.337/.471. His OPS+ was 112.

It was a big comedown when Realmuto wasn’t in the lineup.
This year’s backup catcher has been Garrett Stubbs, and in a limited number of games has shown well. He was hitting .400 in his first 25 at-bats.

Realmuto had appeared in 36 of the Phillies first 41 games, including 34 starts. He has caught in 34 games. In the series ending 4-3 10-inning win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, he came in as a pinch hitter and then played first base.

One of the reasons he has caught so much is that Bryce Harper, with his elbow injury, has been the team’s primary designated hitter. Harper hasn’t played right field since April 16.

Giving Realmuto days off from defense as a DH can save some wear and tear.

Realmuto brings so much to the team even while not hitting. Entering the week he has thrown out 6 of 15 attempted base stealers (40 percent).

In his first season with the Phillies in 2019, he threw out a career-high 47 percent of attempted base stealers. That percentage dropped to 25 percent in the shortened 2020 season and 26 percent last year.

So if he can stay closer to his 2019 form, then Realmuto will be bringing a lot of value to the team.

Still, he has been known as one of the best hitting catchers in baseball and his lack of hitting has hurt the Phillies inconsistent offense.

Maybe he is going through a slump and pressing. Still, with catchers, it’s always a concern about all the cumulative wear and tear. For Realmuto, he hopes it is just a bad early season batting slump.


Author: Marc Narducci

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