When the Phillies signed JT Realmuto to a five-year, $115 million contract in 2021, it was under the assumption that the 30 year old catcher would be as much a force at the plate as he would be behind it — but that was far from the case at the outset of the 2022 season.
Realmuto, now 31, hit his lowest low on May 22. He bottomed out at a dreadful .224/.293/.321 slash line. To that point, the backstop had hit just two home runs, and had tallied only eight extra-base hits overall. He was lacking in power, and struggled to reach base in any capacity.
But a switch flipped that day, and JT Realmuto once again evolved into the ‘Best Catcher in Baseball’.
In the 56 games that followed his dismal start, Realmuto has gone on to slash .293/.366/.525. 10 of his 12 home runs on the season have come in that span, and he’s worked an 8.4% walk-rate to go along with a 16.7% strikeout-rate. Thanks to this strong stretch, the catcher now leads Phillies position players in WAR.
Within that same 56 game sample, Realmuto ranks second among qualified catchers in average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and wRC+, and he is easily the best baserunner of the bunch.
Realmuto owns a whopping 3.5 BsR, good for 18th among ALL qualified hitters. His speed, combined with his keen mind on the basepaths makes a killer combination, and one that is rare among backstops. He also, unsurprisingly, leads all catchers with 13 stolen bases on the year. The next closest catcher is Daulton Varsho, who has seven.
In addition to his offensively minded talents, Realmuto is near the top of the list defensively. He has the best pop-time in all of the major leagues, which has been the case since he joined the Phillies in 2019, and is a big part of why he leads all qualified catchers in caught stealing percentage in 2022 with 38%.
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So what makes JT Realmuto the best of the best?
It’s a fact that he’s a Jack of all Trades (hey, maybe that’s what JT stands for), which is a far from common trait in major league catchers.
Mind you, JT Realmuto hasn’t been the best offensive catcher in baseball. That would be Alejandro Kirk, who is having a phenomenal season at the plate, boasting a 142 wRC+.
He hasn’t been the best defensive catcher in baseball either, as Jose Trevino of the Yankees owns that title, posting an immense 17 defensive runs saved behind the plate.
But, if the topic arises of the best all-around catcher in the game, combining all of offense, defense, and other intangibles, there is an argument to be made that Realmuto is the leader of the pack.
On the season as a whole, Realmuto’s 3.6 fWAR is tops among major league catchers. Put simply, no one catcher does everything better than the Phillies’ backstop.
In the long run, it seems as though Realmuto will live up to expectations: he has been just as effective at the dish this season as he has been behind it, and that speaks volumes of how impressive his resurgence has been.
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