Last week, we started the All-Star Arguments series by looking at Francisco Cervelli of the Pittsburgh Pirates. While his absence from the top five list is deplorable, it is not the most egregious absence. At one point, Cervelli was in the top five in votes but quickly fell off. Miami Marlins catcher JT Realmuto, on the other hand, has been far and away the best catcher in the majors, let alone the National League, and he hasn’t appeared on any ballot update.
A quick note, MLB only releases the votes of the top five so there is no way to determine how many votes Cervelli and Realmuto actually have.
This graph displays the top five vote-getters and the two players with better WAR but doesn’t have enough votes. Cervelli and Realmuto are obviously way to the right and it’s hard to believe that those two are performing so well, yet Yadier Molina is beating them in votes.
JT Realmuto is the catcher for the Miami Marlins and also the sole survivor of the Great Marlin Purge. The apathy in Miami is deserved and they can be forgiven for not knowing they have the best catcher in the league, but it’s time for JT to get some respect.
Realmuto made his debut back in 2014, but only for 11 games in the middle of June. In 2015, he was made the full-time catcher right from the start. Since that time, he’s been one of the most durable catchers in majors, averaging an insane 135 games a year. His first season wasn’t great but passable. In ‘16 Realmuto showed some legitimate hitting ability, especially for a catcher: .303/.343/.428. The next season he took advantage of the new ball and began to launch the ball more, increasing his slugging at the cost of average.
While the past two seasons were good, this is Realmuto’s actual breakout season. JT has upped his OPS 150+ points to .916. He already has 10 home runs, seven short of his career high. Basically, name a stat and JT is on track to posting a career high. Anyway you cut it he’s doing his part at the dish.
|Statistic||Value||Rank (among catchers)|
That table doesn’t say All-Star, it screams it. How can a player leading his position in this many offensive categories not start the All-Star Game, let alone be on the roster? The only “knock” against JT is his home run production. He’s got 10 which technically ties him for seventh but second place is at 11. The NL leader only has 14, which Realmuto would probably have if he didn’t play in the cavernous Marlins Park.
An important thing to note is Realmuto’s WAR value. He leads all catchers by a healthy margin and he’s done it playing in fewer games than his competition. JT was injured earlier this and is currently not qualified for the batting title. Fans could say he hasn’t played long enough this season and that he’s bound to hit a bump just like everyone else. Which is bunk, he’s provided more value than all those players that have had 10+ more games to play.
While baserunning isn’t going to get anyone voted into the All-Star Game (ex: Billy Hamilton) it is actually an important part of Realmuto’s game. He is one of the three catchers with a positive BaseRuns AND the only catcher above 0.4. The dude is actually sneaky fast. MLB Statcast data can tracks sprint speed and they have clocked Realmuto at 28.6 ft/s. League average is 27 ft/s and the catcher average is around 25 ft/s. Numbers don’t mean much without context so here’s a list of players JT Realmuto could beat in a race (using Statcast numbers)
So far this argument has been pretty similar to Cervelli’s case just with more impressive numbers. While Cervelli provides value with the bat, his defense could be described as only adequate when compared to Buster Posey and Wilson Contreras. JT can actually hold his own with the others on defense. He’s got the strongest arm and quickest pop time of any of the “top five” (courtesy of Statcast). His caught stealing to stolen bases ration is one of the best, even better than Contreras and Molina. JT doesn’t let too many balls pass by him either. In other words, he’s not Gary Sanchez: great bat, bad defense.
You’ve got to be quick to catch the speedy Amed Rosario, but the @Marlins have the right man for the job.
JT Realmuto can do it all and he’s undoubtedly playing at an All-Star level. If we’re being honest, Realmuto will be on the All-Star but only because the Marlins have to have a representative. JT shouldn’t have to rely on a pity vote to get to DC. Go out and show JT some love. He is more than worthy than whoever you were going to vote for anyway. #JusticeForJT
***Stats obtained from fangraphs.com and baseballsavant.com.