Throughout the 2016-17 offseason, Fish Stripes is recapping the Top 100 Marlins to ever appear with the franchise. Using the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) metric, all 523 players were considered, whether they played for the Florida or Miami version of the Marlins. Today’s Marlin, Jacob Tyler Realmuto, has earned 4.8 while with the team.
Realmuto, born on March 18th, 1991 in Del City, Oklahoma, is a 6’1”, 210 lb right-handed hitter, and Miami’s current starting catcher. He was selected in the third round of the 2010 amateur draft, with the 104th overall choice. He’s currently the career leader in WAR from that round, trailed narrowly by right-handed pitchers Addison Reed (4.4) and Tyler Thornburg (4.1).
Realmuto joined the Marlins for the first time in June of 2014, and in seven games over 13 days hit four-for-20 with five RBI. After a few more months with the New Orleans Zephyrs, he joined the Marlins for the stretch run. On September 26th, he hit a double in the second, a three run triple in the fifth, then added an RBI-single in the ninth before scoring on an Enrique Hernandez grand slam in a 15-7 Marlins win against the Washington Nationals. Defensively, he committed one error in 55 chances for a .982 fielding percentage, and threw out just 20% of opposing basestealers, eight points below the NL average. Of course, it was a small sample size, as only five were attempted.
2015 would open with Realmuto filling the role of backup catcher on the depth chart, behind Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Two weeks and a two-for-29 performance from Salty and Realmuto predictably moved up to the starting spot. He was mostly slotted seventh in the lineup, with a handful of games batting fifth, sixth, and eighth. He had multi-hit games in 29 of his 116 starts through the season, with 10 multi-RBI games. In 145 contests overall, Realmuto hit .259/.290/.406/.696, with an NL-fifth seven triples, 10 home runs, 47 RBI, and eight stolen bases. Defensively, he earned a .993 fielding percentage, and threw out 16-of-59 basestealers, a comparable number to NL average. He ranked fifth in the NL with 118 games caught and with 836 putouts.
On May 18th, Realmuto hit a game-tying two run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning of a game the Marlins eventually lost, 3-2 in 13 innings. On June 5th, he hit three singles, a triple, scored a run and knocked one in as the Fish defeated the Colorado Rockies, 6-2. Realmuto hit a single, a double, and a homer on July 11th against the Cincinnati Reds, with four RBI and two runs scored in a 14-3 Marlins victory. He topped himself on August 12th, knocking in six runs with a single, a triple, and a round tripper, scoring three times in total as the Marlins won over the Boston Red Sox, 14-6. Realmuto had his first multi-homer game on September 8th with a pair of solo shots in a 6-4 win against the Milwaukee Brewers.
In 2016, Realmuto provided more of the same, only just a little bit better. His average ranked second on the team as he slashed .303/.343/.428/.771, with 31 doubles, 11 home runs, 48 RBI, and 12 stolen bases. He had multiple hits in 39 of his 126 starts, and appeared in 137 games overall. Once again, he mostly batted seventh, with double digit starts batting fifth and sixth, and even 23 games batting leadoff in the absence of Dee Gordon. Defensively, he fielded at a .991 clip and threw out a league third 28-of-79 basestealers, good for 35%. That’s seven per-cent better than NL average. He ranked second in the league with 129 games starting at catcher, third with 1,069 putouts, and first with 80 assists.
On April 24th, Realmuto went four-for-four with a single, a double, and a solo home run in a 5-4 Marlins win against the San Francisco Giants. On June 18th, he hit two singles, a double, and a homer, totaling three RBI in a 9-6 win over the Rockies. On Independence Day, he led off and went four-for-four, hitting four singles and drawing a walk, stealing a base, and scoring a run in an 8-6 Marlins loss to the New York Mets. On July 27th, JT went three-for-four with two doubles, two runs, and an RBI in an 11-1 win against the Philadelphia Phillies.
I didn’t even see Realmuto coming back in 2014, and I didn’t expect him to take that giant step last season and hit .300. Is that an unsustainable number or is there still more improvement coming? He’ll be just 26 on opening day, with a good shot at being considered as a sleeper pick for the NL All Star team if he keeps his play at the current level.
Check back here tomorrow for an article about the #39 Marlin of all-time, Edgar Renteria.