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Breaking down Realmuto's first year with Phils

@ToddZolecki
November 5, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- J.T. Realmuto's first season with the Phillies was a success, which is why the club is expected to sign the 28-year-old catcher to a multiyear contract extension before next season. Realmuto, who is currently set to hit free agency after next season, batted .275 with 25 home runs,

PHILADELPHIA -- J.T. Realmuto's first season with the Phillies was a success, which is why the club is expected to sign the 28-year-old catcher to a multiyear contract extension before next season. Realmuto, who is currently set to hit free agency after next season, batted .275 with 25 home runs, 83 RBIs and an .820 OPS. He finished with a 5.7 fWAR, which ranked seventh among National League position players, 15th among position players overall and first among catchers.

He joined Johnny Bench and Jorge Posada as the only three catchers in history with 90 runs, 35 doubles and 25 home runs in a season.

Realmuto was also stellar on defense and was rewarded with the first Rawlings Gold Glove Award of his career on Sunday.

He finished the season as the most valuable defensive player in baseball at 27.8 Defensive Runs Above Average, according to FanGraphs. He ranked fifth among NL catchers in Runs Extra Strikes (eight), a catcher-framing metric from Statcast. Realmuto had the fastest average pop time (1.88 seconds) among all catchers. His max-effort throws averaged 88.4 mph, which were the fastest in baseball among catchers with a minimum 15 attempts to second base.

“I’ve never had a Gold Glove and that’s something I’ve definitely always wanted in my career. Especially at the catching position, it’s really hard to get, so it would mean a lot to me,” Realmuto said late in the season. “Cross my fingers on that one.”

Here is a look back at Realmuto’s season:

What went right?

As the season progressed, fans started to ask one question about Realmuto: Why in the world are people still running on this guy? Well, the biggest reason was that Phillies pitchers had slow times to the plate. But Realmuto continually beat the clock and threw out 37 basestealers, 15 more than any other catcher. It was fun to watch.

“My infielders were great,” he said. “I threw a lot of balls short, they made a lot of picks for me, a lot of great plays. I just did my best to get rid of it as fast as I can and put it somewhere around the bag. And I let the guys in the middle make the plays for me.”

What went wrong?

Realmuto missed the final eight games of the season because he needed surgery to clean up the meniscus in his right knee. He should be fine by Spring Training.

“Surgery was great,” he said on the final day of the season. “Everything went smooth. They say I should be good to go full, 100 percent in two to three weeks. So it's a fairly quick recovery. And everything looks normal after surgery so everything is good.”

Best moment

Realmuto was the Phillies’ lone representative at the All-Star Game.

2020 outlook

He could arrive in Spring Training with a new contract. After the Phillies traded Sixto Sanchez and Jorge Alfaro to the Marlins last February to get Realmuto, they need to keep him in a Phillies uniform beyond next season.

“I wouldn’t be opposed at all to staying here for the rest of my career,” he said in September.

Of course, Realmuto is as interested as anybody to see what the Phillies do this winter. They need pitching if they expect to win in 2020.

“I feel like the core is there,” he said. “We have the baseline to be really successful. I feel like this year we haven’t played as well as we could and we’ve also run into some tough luck. We’ve got to get on the other end of that. [GM] Matt [Klentak] said we’ll have another busy offseason, which would be good for us.

"This team is trying to win. From [Phillies owner] John [Middleton] all the way down. Everybody wants to win. And that’s extremely refreshing, especially coming from where I came from.”

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook .