Is Phillies’ J.T Realmuto the best catcher in baseball?

While perusing Twitter the other morning, I saw noticed an ongoing theme surrounding the best catcher in baseball. My first reaction was that they were trolling tweets, however, I started to see more and more of them. This more than likely likely stems from the list MLB.com put out back at the end of January ranking the top three catchers:

  1. Yasmani Grandal, Chicago White Sox
  2. J.T. Realmuto, Philadelphia Phillies
  3. Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs

All three deserve to be in the conversation. There were those who rightly said that J.T Realmuto is clearly the BCIB. Others, from Chicago, I assume, had cast their unofficial vote for Yasmani Grandal. What about Wilson Contreras? Let us take a look at the 2019 season of the three and who not named Realmuto is the second BCIB.

J.T. Realmuto

Realmuto should be very happy as he comes into the on-hold 2020 season with a big raise. Although he lost his arbitration case, he will make $10 million this year as opposed to $5.9 million last season.

Realmuto opted to go to arbitration as a way to set the bar higher for future catchers, a position that is consistently paid at a lower rate. here is a separate scale for catchers, dubbed “catcher’s market.” He was fighting against a “catchers market” which is a way for teams to pay the position less than the other position players.

Realmuto by the Numbers

Last season, Realmuto was the Phillies lone All-Star representative. It’s not surprising he shared a dugout with both Grandall and Contreras. He had one of the best seasons of his professional career. Not only was he an all-star, but he was also 14th in MVP voting and took home both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards.

Last year he hit a respectable .275 with 148 hits in 538 at-bats. He slugged 25 homers and drove in 83 while scoring 2 runs. Realmuto also had nine stolen bases and waled 41 times.

Defensively, Realmuto was elite. He won the gold glove by throwing out 43 of 92 steal attempts. Realmuto led all of baseball with a 47% caught stealing percentage. He also committed just nine errors. Realmuto had a wins above replacement (WAR) value of 4.5.

Grandal by the Numbers

Grandal comes into 2020 with a monster raise. Last season he rolled the dice by signing a one year deal with the Brewers. The end result was a major pay increase as he signed a four-year contract for $18.25 million per year with the Chicago White Sox.

Last season, the 31-year old Cuban born catcher had 126 hits in 513 at-bats for an average of .246. He hit 28 home runs while driving in 77 and scoring 79 runs. He also stole five bases and walked a staggering 109 times. Grandal had a .380 on-base percentage.

Defensively, Grandall was very good. He threw out 27 of 100 would-be base thieves for a caught stealing percentage of 27%. He also committed eight errors. Grandal had a WAR value of 2.4.

Contreras By the numbers

The Cubs’ Contreras is another all-star who is right in the mix as one of the best catchers in the game, however, based on his numbers I would agree that he is the third-best catcher.

Contreras hit 98 times in 360 at-bats for a .272 average. He drove in 64 runs while hitting 24 home runs and scoring 57 times. His on OBP was a respectable .355 and he walked 38 times.

Defensively he was tested less often as he threw out 16 runners on 555 attempts for a 29% CS percent, He committed twelve errors and had a WAR of 3.1

Statistic Comparison:

Yes, I’m aware that the caught stealing numbers vs attempts are reversed for Grandal and Contreras

By looking at the numbers, all three catchers are elite and deserve to be in the conversation, however, Realmuto is just better and leads in nine out of the thirteen categories. Now that the Phillies’ have the BCIB, it is time for them to sign him long term.

Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

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