In this retrospective were going to take a look at the backstops for the team. Catching was split pretty evenly between Wellington Castillo with 25 percent of the starts, Omar Narvaez with the lion’s share at 45 percent, and Kevan Smith at 24 percent of the starts. This group was headlined by a big splash in the offseason to help bolster and shepherd the young pitching staff but those plans didn’t really come to fruition. Omar was definitely the surprise of the group and proved that he has a place to play here. But without further adieu let’s jump into the catcher position from 2018.
We’ll start with Welington Castillo who was penciled in to make most of the starts and was brought in to be both a veteran presence and a resource for your young pitching staff. I’m sure he would have been able to have he not been suspended for PEDS. Castillo tested positive for Erythropoietin, better known as EPO, which has long been banned by various sports governing bodies and has been linked to multiple doping scandals in cycling. He started an 80 game suspension on May 24th and was obviously lost for the bulk of the 2018 season. He signed a 2 year 15 million dollar deal with an option for 2020 this offseason. He finished the season with a .259/.304/.406 slash line with 6 home runs and 15 RBI, defensively he caught 30 percent of attempted stealers. All in all 2018 was a lost season and too small a sample size to say he really did anything to assist the team either in stats or leadership, which is why he was brought here.
Now to move on to a guy who was lost to the roster crunch, Kevan Smith. He was brought up from Charlotte after 30 games to backup Omar Narvaez. Kevan had a good offensive season for being an emergency backup, he slashed .292/.348/.380 with 3 home runs and a 103 OPS+. He let base runners run on him on a very consistent basis giving up 41 stolen bases catching only 15 percent of attempts. Now we know that stolen bases are on the pitcher half if not more of the time, as the base may be stolen before the catcher even receives the ball. Even with Kevan’s 2.1 pop time and 82.8 arm velocity, catching 15 percent of runners is still partially on him. According to Baseball Prospectus, the authority on catcher value added by framing, Kevan was above average framing pitches, which is making balls look like strikes to the umpire, had added one and a half outs by framing.
Lastly was the stand out of the group Omar Narvaez, the guy who was originally slated to back up Welington Castillo. With Castillo sidelined Omar took advantage of the opportunity that e was afforded he had a career year. He slashed .275/.366/.429 with a career high in home runs and RBI, 9 and 30. Now those numbers don’t jump off the page at you but it shows development and advancing skills. His wOBA was .348 another career high, all accumulation to a 2.1 WAR season. His .794 OPS ranks him 5th among catchers with 250 at-bats and 2nd among all lefty catchers. Behind the plate, though he was much more average, he only threw out 32 percent of potential base stealers and has a below average pop time and a very average exchange time. His framing numbers are horrifically below average, costing the team 10.8 runs due to his lack of framing skills.
Arguably the weakest of all the position groups of 2018 the catchers showed some promise and surprise but overall disappointed. The roster crunch already has seen Kevan Smith designated for assignment and waived off the 40 man and claimed by the Angel’s. Welington Castillo’s suspension could not have sat very well with the front office especially with the reasoning for bringing him in and the lack of development in the pitching staff. Between that and the emergence of Omar Nevarez I would not be shocked to see Castillo sent packing somehow, especially with Seby Zavala and Zach Collins leerking and needing a look and spots on the 40 man roster being at a premium. That’s your catcher retrospective, well be looking ahead at this position before the season starts.
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