Has JT Realmuto Returned to All-Star Form in 2024?

Citizens Bank Park MLB Phillies
PHILADELPHIA, PA – JULY 07: Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto (10) at bat during the Major League Baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Washington Nationals on July 7, 2022 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

JT Realmuto is once again starting to look like the best catcher in baseball.

After joining the Phillies heading into the 2019 season, JT was considered one of the best backstops in baseball. The Phils had to deal a top prospect at the time, Sixto Sanchez, to pull off this move.

Realmuto stepped right in, becoming an All-Star and winning both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger for National League catchers. Since that 2019 season, the Phillies’ catcher has been one of the best in the game. Realmuto has been a 2x All-Star, 2x Gold Glove, and 2x Silver Slugger award winner in his time with the Phillies.

The name “BCIB or Best Catcher in Baseball” wasn’t just a gimmick, it was the truth. After a down year in 2023, which by most standards is an excellent year for a catcher, JT has started to swing the bat like an All-Star once again. His re-emergence to start 2024 has been exciting to witness.

Phillies JT Realmuto
Philadelphia Phillies’ J.T. Realmuto follows through on a single during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Ready, Set, Realmuto

His unique skill set is one of the most fascinating aspects of watching JT Realmuto play.

He is an excellent base runner, which is extremely rare in his position. JT has stolen 94 bases in his career, with 50 coming in the last three seasons. Jason Kendall has the most stolen bases for a catcher in the modern era with 189. A few more strong seasons could put Realmuto closer to that mark.

He also has an electric arm and is elite at throwing out runners trying to swipe a bag. He has the best pop time in the game, as it takes him 1.86 seconds to receive and fire the ball down to second base. His glove is just as important as his offensive production.

Philadelphia Phillies’ J.T. Realmuto, left, slides past Atlanta Braves’ Travis d’Arnaud to score a run off a single hit by Bryson Stott during the first inning of a baseball game, Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

Iron Man

JT Realmuto has started 12 of the 14 games the Phillies have played to start the season. In those games, Rob Thomson has slotted him in the cleanup position. Providing Bryce Harper with coverage in the lineup has benefitted Realmuto, as he has gotten off to a strong start.

The Phillies’ catcher is hitting .267 with a .727 OPS through his twelve games. This includes the past few days where he has gotten beat up behind home plate.

His consistency is one of the reasons why the Phillies have been able to win 7 games through their first 14. The offense has largely been ineffective, but Realmuto has been able to provide good at-bats in each game he plays.

Before the season started, I mentioned how the team and JT would benefit from extra rest days this season. He has caught a lot of innings since joining the Phillies and while Realmuto is a certified iron man, keeping him fresh for the post-season is still very important. Despite this caution for rest, taking him out of an unproductive batting lineup might not be the best idea in the short term.

It feels like the plan is to give Garrett Stubbs at least one start per week. If Stubbs gets 5-6 a month rather than 3-4, those extra days off could prove smart. Using Realmuto at first base, as a designated hitter, or just a pinch hitter later in the game gives Thomson flexibility as well.

Regardless of the number of games he plays, if this is the version of JT Realmuto that the Phillies are receiving in 2024, they should be primed to make a deep run once again. I would not be shocked to see JT back in the Summer Classic or add another trophy to his collection.

Photo Credit: (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)