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All-Time Marlins Countdown: J.T. Realmuto

J.T. Realmuto was the best Marlins catcher ever, bar none.

Miami Marlins v. Washington Nationals

With the offseason coming to a close, we’re finishing up the all-time Marlins countdown with the best of the very best to come through the franchise.

Players are ranked in ascending bWAR value, divided by plate appearances (or batters faced for pitchers). In terms of total bWAR, today’s honoree, J.T. Realmuto ranked 14th overall with a mark of 13.9. On a per-plate-appearance basis, however, he’s sixth. For context, yesterday’s entrant, Josh Johnson, averaged .00626 bWAR per batter faced. Realmuto averaged .00646 during his time with the club, and tomorrow’s Marlin, the number five on our list, averaged .00648.

6. J.T. Realmuto

J.T. Realmuto is a six-foot-one right-handed hitting and throwing catcher from Del City, Oklahoma. Born on March 18, 1991, the Marlins took him in the third round in 2010 out of Carl Albert HS, in Midwest City, OK. Joining the GCL Marlins at the Rookie-level following his selection, Realmuto went seven-for-40 with four RBI. Better things were yet to come.

In 2011, Realmuto got a whole season of professional baseball under his belt with the Single-A Greensboro Grasshoppers. In 96 games he slashed .287/.347/.454 with a dozen homers, 49 RBI, and 13 stolen bases in 19 attempts. Pushed up a level in 2012 as the Marlins number five prospect (according to Baseball America), he slashed .256/.319/.345 in 123 contests, and again stole 13 bases.

Although speed on the base paths were never really a component of Realmuto’s all-around game, he did mange to steal 31 bases in his five seasons as a member of the parent club, in 43 steal attempts. In 2013, Realmuto opened the season as the Marlins ninth overall prospect, and in 106 games for the Double-A Jacksonville Suns he slashed a .239./310/.353 line, showing some patience at the plate but not really very much else. Really though, who gets a catcher for their offense? Realmuto would surprise the Marlins with offense a little later.

In 2014, Realmuto raked for the Suns, slashing .299/.369/.461 in 97 games at double-A. He stole a career-best 18 bases in 23 attempts, and struck out just under 14 percent of the time. Realmuto earned accolades as a Double-A All-Star, a Southern League All-Star, and an all-minor league 2nd team All Star. Perhaps sensing it was time, the Marlins called him up for seven games in June and another four in September. On September 26, Realmuto fell a home run short of the cycle and totaled four RBI in a 15-7 walloping of the host Washington Nationals.

The 2015 campaign would see Realmuto on the big league stage on a permanent basis for the Marlins. He backstopped 126 contests, hitting .259 with 10 home runs and 47 RBI. He only drew 19 walks, a bases on balls rate of only four percent, while striking out 70 times. Despite Realmuto’s future reputation as a fantastic defensive catcher, he was more-or-less league average in his advanced metrics through his rookie season. He threw out 27 percent of base stealers, just a hair under NL average, and finished at zero ZFR and plus-one DRS. On August 12, Realmuto fell a double short of the cycle, collecting six RBI in a 14-6 annihilation of the Boston Red Sox.

In 2016, Realmuto posted his best numbers yet, with a .303/.343/.428 line and 11 home runs with 48 RBI. He also stole 12 bases in 16 attempts. Defensively, he illustrated the stark difference between DRS and ZFR, finishing the year at plus-two ZFR and minus-13 DRS. He also caught 35 percent of base stealers, seven percent above the NL average. On June 8, he went four-for-five with a double, a homer, and three RBI in a 9-6 win against the Colorado Rockies.

The 2017 campaign would see Realmuto push his stat line northward a little further, with a .278/.322/.451 line and 17 round trippers with 65 RBI. He threw out 32 percent of base stealers, again well-above the NL average, and finished five ZFR better than the average NL catcher. On July 22, Realmuto went deep twice, going three-for-four overall with four RBI in a 5-4 victory against the Cincinnati Reds.

In 2018, Realmuto was finally recognized for excellence outside of the Marlins fanbase, earning a National League Silver Slugger for catchers and an invitation to the NL All Star Team. He hit .277/.340/.484 with 21 home runs and 74 RBI in 125 games. He caught 38 percent of would-be base stealers to rank fourth in the senior circuit, and was again an overall above-average fielder, at six ZFR above average. On July 8, in a 10-2 win against the Nationals, Realmuto collected five hits for the first time in his career, totaling three RBI.

Realmuto entered 2019 Spring Training with the Marlins, and made no secret of his desire to play elsewhere. The front office was happy to comply, sending him to the Philadelphia Phillies for Jorge Alfaro, Sixto Sanchez, and Will Stewart. After another All-Star, Silver Slugging season, Realmuto signed a one-year, $10 million deal to remain with the Phils. He recently signed a five-year, $115.5 million deal with Philadelphia, keeping him with the club through his age-35 season.

Thanks for reading. Check back tomorrow morning for Ely’s take on the number five player on the list.