J.T. Realmuto - Is He Worth It?
In 2010, J.T. Realmuto was drafted in the third round by the then Florida Marlins. In his senior year of high school, he hit .595 with 28 home runs. He always possessed a rocket arm, which planted him behind home plate. Throughout his career in the minor leagues, Realmuto averaged a .734 OPS. He was called up in 2014 and had his first full season in 2015 as the catcher of the now Miami Marlins. In that season, he managed a .696 OPS and had some defensive struggles. Fast forward to 2021, and Realmuto is on the verge of being the highest paid catcher in the league. Is he worth this moniker?
Worst to First
When Realmuto first entered the league, he was not considered a great defensive catcher. Realmuto ranked in the 27th percentile in framing and was second in 2016 in errors committed for a catcher with 10. Throughout his time in the majors, he improved drastically. One area to mention is framing. Framing is a catchers ability to turn balls into strikes. Here's Realmuto's breakdown per year:
As you can see, Realmuto is a whole different catcher. He was ranked in the 95th percentile this past year and was only behind Omar Narvaez (53.7%) with converting 51.9% of non-swing pitches into strikes. He went from 40th in strike rate in 2015 to second in 2020.
Now, Realmuto hasn't always had issues as a defensive catcher. Much like another fellow catcher that had/has defensive problems Gary Sanchez, Realmuto also features a strong arm and a crazy pop time. Pop time is a term for a catchers ability to catch the ball from the pitcher, stand up, and fire a strike to second or third. Since 2015, Realmuto has consistently ranked in the top five for pop time to second and third. His pop time to second has been between 1.89 - 1.93 seconds (first in the league last year) and to third, it's been between 1.4-1.5 seconds. Here's a wonderful compilation of every caught stealing by Realmuto.....it's seven minutes long!