For MLB teams, a catcher who can both hit and defend his position effectively is a luxury.
The Philadelphia Phillies have one of the best in the business in J.T. Realmuto.
He has a reputation as a strong game caller, framer, and leader behind the plate, which he deservedly earned through time.
However, he is also an excellent hitter.
MLB stats experts Sarah Langs brings us some numbers to prove he belongs in the discussion about the best-hitting catchers in baseball.
“Highest OPS+, catchers, 2022 (min 400 PA): J.T. Realmuto: 129; Adley Rutschman: 128; Willson Contreras: 128; Alejandro Kirk: 126; Cal Raleigh: 122,” she tweeted.
Highest OPS+, catchers, 2022 (min 400 PA):
J.T. Realmuto: 129
Adler Rutschman: 128
Willson Contreras: 128
Alejandro Kirk: 126
Cal Raleigh: 122
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) December 31, 2022
If OPS combines on-base percentage with slugging percentage to give us a better idea about a hitter’s ability to reach base and hit for power; OPS+ takes that number and normalizes it across the league to account for external factors such as era and ballpark.
That number is then adjusted so 100 is considered league-average offensive performance: anything above that is better.
Realmuto’s 129 OPS+ gives him the edge among MLB catchers, at least in 2022.
It’s becoming evident, however, that Baltimore Orioles young star Adley Rutschman is starting to knock on the door and challenge the veteran Realmuto.
The same can be said about Alejandro Kirk and Cal Raleigh.
Willson Contreras has been in the elite for a long time, but perhaps a tier below Realmuto.
Realmuto was part of the Phillies roster that made it all the way to the World Series in 2022.
He will try to lead them back to the last series of the season this year.