London Series 2024 Primer: Catchers

The mega-three-day weekend of 7-8-9 June is almost upon us. You will find the Bat Flips & Nerds crew at Trafalgar Square and at the London Stadium. Come and say hello.

Our London Series 2024 Primer series continues as we compare opposing players at each position. The difference in production and experience at catcher might be the biggest gulf at any position.

PHILLIES CATCHER: J.T. Realmuto

Simply the best catcher in baseball over the last five years.

The 33-year-old offers a unique skill set behind the plate. He has 95 career stolen bases—three times more than his closest catching rival. Add this basepath speed to power, which has resulted in 160 home runs, and you have elite, all-around production.

Since 2019, only 12 players have 100+ HR, 60+ SB, 300+ runs, and 300+ RBI. The list includes some of the greatest players of this era : Bryce Harper, Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani… and J.T. Realmuto. And he’s a catcher!

When you factor in Realmuto’s exceptional catching ability to a speed/power combo that would work in the middle of every MLB lineup, you have one of this generation’s greatest yet unheralded players.

The first-choice catcher for Team USA’s oh-so-close run in the World Baseball Classic, Realmuto is a former third-round pick by the Florida Marlins in 2010. That was the same year that his now teammate Bryce Harper was taken with the first overall pick.

After four successful years in “The Show” with the Marlins, Realmuto was traded to the Phillies for Will Stewart, Jorge Alfaro, Sixto Sánchez and international bonus slot money. It’s fair to say that the deal worked out tremendously for Philadelphia.

In 2021, Realmuto signed a new five-year, $115.5 million deal to keep him in Philadelphia until the end of next season. 

METS CATCHER(S): Tomás Nido / Omar Narváez

The Mets’ catching situation became messier when Francisco Alvarez required surgery for a sprained thumb. He is back throwing now but probably won’t return to MLB action until mid-to-late June, so barring a surprise announcement, we won’t see him in London.

In Alvarez’s absence, catching duties have been handled by Tomás Nido and Omar Narváez. Nido is a 30-year-old Puerto Rican with a career .215 batting average. A perennial reserve, Nido has spent his whole career with the Mets, backing up the likes of Wilson Ramos and James McCann. Despite only playing 29 games this year, Nido is only one home run shy of tying his most for a single season… of four.

Coming off an All-Star run with the Brewers, the Mets signed Narváez to a $15 million, two-year deal in December 2022, but, in typical Mets fashion, he missed most of last season with injury. This is the fourth team for Narvaez, who has also enjoyed spells with the White Sox and Mariners.

Born in Venezuela, the 32-year-old catcher has struggled to recapture his pre-injury form. Well, struggled is an understatement. Using OPS+ where 100 is the league average, Narvaez has a 12 OPS+ this year.

Featured image of J.T. Realmuto and Tomas Nido by Elsa/Getty Images


Make sure you check out our other London Series primers…

Article by @GavTramps. Look out for the Bat Flips & Nerds crew in London. We have Tom and Darius backstage getting content you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Puppet master John will pull the strings with incisive interviews and bamboozling vocabulary. Russell will bring world-class analysis into the discussion, Rachel (#properjournalist) will provide coverage for nationwide outlets, and Rob, Ben, and the rest of us will be mingling with the crowds in Stratford and Trafalgar Square. Come and say “hi”.

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