NEW YORK -- Giancarlo Stanton isn't the only home run hitter in the Marlins lineup. On Friday night, J.T. Realmuto delivered the tone-setting, two-run homer in the second inning in Miami's 3-1 victory over the Mets at Citi Field.Realmuto's 14th homer of the season also bumped his RBI total to
NEW YORK -- Giancarlo Stanton isn't the only home run hitter in the Marlins lineup. On Friday night, J.T. Realmuto delivered the tone-setting, two-run homer in the second inning in Miami's 3-1 victory over the Mets at Citi Field.
Realmuto's 14th homer of the season also bumped his RBI total to 50, establishing a career high for the 26-year-old catcher.
"J.T.'s becoming a leader," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "For us, it's really the biggest thing. He's kind of been that guy. He's got a toughness to him that we kind of lacked, without saying it in a bad way. But J.T.'s a tough kid. Nothing scares him, nothing bothers him. He took a step forward within our club. To me, that shows some leadership. It's something guys look up to."
Realmuto has emerged as the best catcher the Marlins have had since Ivan Rodriguez was a World Series hero in 2003.
"He's just a natural-born leader," Miami left-hander Justin Nicolino said. "He brings a presence to the plate. But behind the plate, there's a lot of confidence thrown to him."
In club history, a catcher has reached at least 50 RBIs just 10 times. Rodriguez drove in a franchise-best 85 runs in 2003. The last time a Miami catcher reached 50 was in 2011, when John Buck had 57.
"Fifty is really not that many," Realmuto said. "I've never been a huge RBI guy. I'm happy to cross that 50 mark. Hopefully, I've got 20 or more in me this year."
Not known for being a power threat, Realmuto is within five home runs of the season most by a catcher. Charles Johnson belted 19 in 1997.
Realmuto has a chance to flirt with Johnson's record, or at least move up the ladder on the franchise's all-time catcher home run list. Johnson holds the top two spots, belting 18 in 2001.
Four are tied for third, each with 16 -- John Buck (2011), Miguel Olive twice (2006-07) and Rodriguez (2003).
Realmuto's home run was a no-doubter off New York right-hander Chris Flexen. Statcast™ projected the drive to left field at 402 feet with an exit velocity of 104 mph.
"Fortunate to get out there and get some runs for our pitching," Realmuto said. "I hadn't faced that guy before. He left a curveball out over the zone. I was able to put a good swing on it."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.