Marlins’ J.T. Realmuto Turning Heads With His Hitting
J.T. Realmuto is making a case that he is the best offensive catcher in the NL. He is second among full time catchers this year in wRC+, behind only Buster Posey. And he is pushing to overtake Posey. In the month of July, he has a 176 wRC+, and since July 14th, the mark is 198, thanks in part to four home runs in just 44 plate appearances. The stats say that his recent streak has been a little lucky, but it is pretty impossible to be that good without some luck. On the other hand, his season BABIP is lower this year than it was last year. He has a surprisingly high BABIP for someone who pulls the ball as often as he does, but he is right-handed so it is harder to shift against him than it would be if he were left-handed. All in all, it’s kind of surprising he has been this good, but he has a history of it, and the sample size is large enough, so I'm a believer.
If there is one catcher who has been better than Realmuto in the second half, it is Rupp. While he hasn't been nearly as good this year as a whole, he has been absolutely dominant since the All Star break. He only has a 96 wRC+ on the season, but in the second half he is slashing .321/.387/.857 with four home runs in just 30 plate appearances. His greatest ability is to hit fly balls very hard. Now, he doesn't hit all balls very hard. When you take all of his hit types as an aggregate, he is just slightly above average in exit velocity. But his average fly ball exit velocity of 96.7 mph ranks second among catchers, behind only Gary Sanchez. And when you look at just the second half, while the sample is small, the results are noticeable. He has hit the ball far and away the hardest among catchers at 102.5 mph, which is actually ahead of every qualified player not named Giancarlo Stanton in that time period. So one could expect the high average and the high OBP to drop, but the power is legit, so the homers should keep coming.
If you compare first half stats to second half stats (with some limits on minimum plate appearances), no player in all the land has improved their wRC+ more than Odubel Herrera. After really struggling out of the gate this year, he limped to a 75 wRC+ in the first half sporting a .256/.291/.393 slash line. But he has done a complete 180 and has done nothing but hit on this side of the baseball calendar. In 15 games, he has turned that slash line into the .415/.491/.774 monster that it is. Not only has he turned his season around, but he has done it the tune of a 223 wRC+, leading the NL. Obviously, he can't be this good forever, but his Statcast data shows that something is working for him, as he has turned his first half average exit velocity of 86.7 mph into a second half average of 89.0 mph. That may not sound like much, but it moves him from average to the Top 25 percent among qualified hitters. Things are looking up for Mr. Herrera.
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