J.T. Realmuto catches a lot of games. That is what he wants to do, that is what the team wants him to do, but he cannot be behind the plate for every single game. There has to be someone else, someone capable of providing maybe not the same kind of production that Realmuto does, but perhaps at least a slightly less steep decline.
Andrew Knapp did not provide that in 2021. And it’s time to move on from him.
.152/.215/.214, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 61:10 K:BB, 17 wRC+, -1.1 fWAR
Well, he gave Realmuto some days off.
And he became a father. That’s always cool.
Looking at his defensive numbers, he was pretty much league average behind the plate. Nothing he did - framing, blocking, throwing - came out worse than average or a tic below, so he didn’t hurt the team there. With the glove, he’s about what you’d expect from a bacup catcher.
The bad constitutes pretty much everything else Knapp did on the baseball diamond this season. His offense, as you can surmise from the above numbers, was not just bad, but impressively bad. He did struggle to stay healthy this year, missing some time with an injury to his side, a concussion and having to be placed into Covid-19 protocol, so that may have been an issue with his game. But he was just so, so bad at the plate.
He swung at a career high 56.1% of pitches, but whiffed on 37.8% of them, also a career high. On pitches in the zone, he only made contact 72.1% of the time, a career worst. Clearly, there was something bothering him at the plate this year, whether that was after effects of the concussion, the Covid diagnosis, what have you. But with the bat in his hands, he was extremely ineffective.
With his arbitration number likely going up (they never go down), this was probably the last hurrah for Knapp as a member of the Phillies. Rafael Marchan is ready to take over as the backup catcher to Realmuto and Logan O’Hoppe isn’t far behind that. As long as Realmuto is here, he’ll be the final boss behind the plate, taking the lion’s share of time there, but with the DH potentially being introduced to the National League in 2022, it’s possible the team will look to rest him from squatting a little bit more. That means they will need someone to take over as the #2 catcher and provide something more than a 5 WAR dropoff, the difference between Realmuto and Knapp this year.
He’s been a good soldier for the organization, but it looks like his time here is over.
Final grade: F
Try as he might, Knapp just isn’t that good with the bat anymore. This season finally exposed what we all knew but maybe didn’t want to admit. With the Phillies needing to upgrade at any position they can, using someone like Rafael Marchan could possibly be worth a win or two. Is it that extreme? Maybe not, but edges have to be found and this is one of the more obvious ones. Thanks, Andrew, for all the memories.