Langeliers a backstop with some bop

Second-year big leaguer becomes the fourth Oakland catcher with a 20-homer season

September 16th, 2023

OAKLAND -- In a season filled with 101 losses and counting, the A’s are more concerned about individual development at this point.

Given the promotions of such young talent as Zack Gelof, Esteury Ruiz, Jordan Diaz, Lawrence Butler and Tyler Soderstrom this season, Shea Langeliers almost seems like a grizzled veteran. The A’s 8-3 loss to the Padres on Friday night at the Coliseum marked the 163rd game of the 25-year-old’s catcher’s career.

Langeliers lofted a solo home run to left field in the bottom of the second inning at a launch angle of 41 degrees -- the highest launch angle of his career on a homer. 

A centerpiece of the Matt Olson trade last year, Langeliers doesn’t have a sexy slash line (.206/.268/.407) but his 20 home runs are the most by an Oakland A’s catcher since Ramon Hernandez hit 21 in 2003. Only Terry Steinbach (36) and Gene Tenace (21) and Hernández have hit more home runs by a catcher since the A’s arrived in Oakland in 1968.

“Obviously, really cool to be mentioned with those guys, alongside those names,” Langeliers said. “This year has been a struggle offensively, but finishing strong and building momentum.”

Langeliers finds himself in the middle of a late-season power surge. Over his past six games, he has lived up to his Shea “Bangeliers” nickname by going 6-for-22 (.273) with four homers and seven RBIs. He also belted a ball 103.4 mph in the seventh inning Friday, but it fell a few feet short of dinger in center field. According to Statcast, Langeliers’ barrel rate ranks in the 81st percentile among all big leaguers.

“Definitely a kid that’s got power,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “He impacts the baseball. … Shea’s been working really hard. The confidence is there, the swing is there and you can see it reflected in the results.”

Hernandez, who spent five seasons in Oakland to begin his 15-year MLB career, is currently a coach and translator for the A’s. Soon he might not have bragging rights on his understudy.

“He’s definitely involved in everything we do with the meetings,” Langeliers said of Hernandez. “He caught for so long and is such a good catcher. If I ever have a question, I just go ask him how he would handle it. He’s been awesome to have around.”

The Padres were able to find success against Langeliers on the basepaths Friday night, stealing five bags, but the A’s catcher is having a strong year when it comes to nabbing baserunners. His "catcher caught stealing" total is 22, tops the Majors. His pop time to second base (1.90) ranks in the 87th percentile.

“As a catcher, the catch and throw has always been my calling card,” Langeliers said. “It’s kind of been what I’ve been known for. I take pride in it and pretty much work on it every single day.”

Langeliers’ batterymate, left-hander Sean Newcomb, struggled Friday, walking three and hitting a batter while yielding four runs in three innings. After coming up through the ranks with Langeliers in the Atlanta organization, Newcomb said he has enjoyed seeing his growth behind the plate this season.

“I’ve always loved him. He’s a great kid,” Newcomb said. “He works hard. Calls a good game, and I have a lot of trust in him. He’s really like a catcher first. Even though he’s got 20 bombs and can hit a bunch of homers, but he’s for sure a catcher first.”