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2019 Phillies review: J.T. Realmuto

The best player on the Phillies needs to get extended immediately

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The numbers

.275/.328/.493, 593 PA, 25 HR, 83 RBI, 20.7 K%, 6.9 BB%, 5.7 fWAR

The good

Where to begin?

Do we want to talk offense? Good, because J.T. Realmuto provided plenty of it. He had career highs in home runs, RBI, runs scored, isolated power, and slugging percentage. Among catchers with at least 250 PA in all of baseball, he finished:

  • 4th in HR (25)
  • 1st in R (92)
  • 1st in RBI (83)
  • 9th in ISO (.227)
  • 5th in SLG (.493)

He became only the third catcher in Phillies history to have 25 or more home runs, 80 or more RBI, a batting average of .270 or higher and a slugging percentage of .490 or higher (bonus points for the other two, superbonus points for the years. And don’t use Play Index). He was an offensive force at a position where anything above average is considered a bonus. But you know all this, right? You’re here for what I love the most.

You’re here for the glove.

Well, sit back and enjoy.

And of course.....

We had heard about what kind of catcher Realmuto was, but being able to see it day in and day out, it really made you appreciate how good he was. The scary part is that he got better throughout the season.

The bad

Let’s quibble here.

There have been people grumbling that Realmuto was a little worse here in Philadelphia than he was in Miami. There is a case for this line of thinking. The home runs only went up slightly, even in the rabbit ball year, which lead to overall declines in offensive rate stats like wRC+ (126 in 2018 to 108), OPS+ (also 126 to 108) and DRC+ (122 to 106). Factor in the belief prior to the start of the year that the move to Citizens Bank Park would help improve his numbers and you can start to see how someone might be disappointed in the production Realmuto gave. In terms of simply looking at offensive output, yes, you can say that Realmuto wasn’t as good as we thought. The key moving forward for Realmuto is being able to maintain this output even in the ball changes in 2020.

He also had minor knee surgery at the end of the year. That qualifies as “bad”, so managing his workload is something that should be higher up on Joe Girardi’s wishlist for 2020.

The future

The biggest goal facing the team this offseason was acquiring more pitching to supplement and improve what was already here. The second biggest goal was signing Realmuto to an extension.

We’ve seen a lot of pieces speaking about this very concept, how the team traded its best prospect to get him, how losing him to free agency would be a colossal mistake, etc.

What we can be certain is that he’ll be here in 2020 since the team tendered him a contract for next season and will go through the arbitration process. After that, it’s anyone’s guess how or when the extension will get done. There’s really no doubt that it will get done, the team having said as much. The question will be in the timing. He’s going to get paid; it’s just a matter of how much and for how long. He certainly deserves to beat the Yasmani Grandal contract (even though that was free agency), so somewhere in the five years, $100 million category will do nicely. Let’s just get it done so we can stop fretting about it. Let the fans enjoy having the best player in the game at his position for the forseeable future. It certainly is a treat.