J.T. Realmuto

Age: 27
Bats/Throws: R/R
Height/Weight: 6'1", 211 lbs
Position: Catcher

Realmuto has enamored fantasy owners since 2015 with his ability to get some steals from behind the plate. With stolen bases at a premium and likely overpriced in certain drafts, Realmuto provides the opportunity to get a few stolen bases out of a position that is nearly devoid of speed entirely. In fact, since the start of 2015, Realmuto leads all catchers with 28 stolen bases, an average of just over nine per season. The next closest is Yadier Molina with 15, an average of five per season.

While everyone zigs and drafts catchers with power, namely Gary Sanchez, Evan Gattis and Wellington Castillo, should you zag and take the likes of a Realmuto, who necessarily doesn’t destroy your power from the position either? It’s certainly a plausible route, but if you’re the type of fantasy owner that prefers to wait on a catcher, then you won’t be finding Realmuto on many of your fantasy teams.

Since the start of 2015, Realmuto has been one of the more prized fantasy assets behind the dish, given his double-digit power and steal ability, to go along with a solid batting average and on-base percentage (OBP). Take a look at where he stands up among all qualified catchers in various statistical categories since the start of the 2015 season.

Statistical Category

Realmuto (since 2015)

Rank Among Catchers

G

404

4th

HR

38

12th

AVG

.281

3rd

OBP

.323

10th

SLG

.430

8th

wOBA

.322

11th

SB

28

1st


Through the early part of his big league career, Realmuto has been healthy and an ironman behind the plate, appearing in 137 or more games in each of the last two seasons. Despite the lack of offensive prowess in the Miami lineup following the departures of Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Dee Gordon and Christian Yelich, Realmuto has an opportunity to post his best statistical season of his professional career. Last year, he primarily served as the team’s fifth or sixth hitter, whereas this season he’ll likely hit out of the two-hole, behind Derek Dietrich and his career .337 OBP. Perhaps he even sees some time as the primary run producer as the team’s third-hitter. He set career highs in home runs (17), runs scored (68) and RBI (65) last season, and despite a diminished supporting cast, perhaps a more prominent role in the lineup creates additional opportunities for Realmuto to increase some of his counting stats. Starlin Castro and Justin Bour are more than capable of driving Realmuto in when he does his part of getting on base.

Despite having just 38 career home runs in 415 professional games, Realmuto makes good contact more often than not, and he has one of the lower soft contact rates in all of baseball, regardless of position. In fact, only 31 qualified players have a lower soft contact rate than that of the 27-year-old backstop. Take a look at the following players below and their respective contact rates last season (via Fangraphs).

 

Soft%

Med%

Hard%

Player A

14.8%

52.5%

32.8%

Player B

13.0%

52.8%

34.3%

Player C

14.9%

51.8%

33.3%

Player D

15.9%

48.8%

35.2%


Rather than beating around the bush, here are the identities of the mysterious players above:

Player A: Kris Bryant

Player B: Anthony Rendon

Player C: J.T. Realmuto

Player D: Christian Yelich

Realmuto’s contact rates were extremely comparable to Chicago’s Bryant, as well as Rendon, and he generated medium or hard contact more frequently than Milwaukee’s Yelich. Home run totals aren’t indicative of how hard a player hits the ball, but it certainly doesn’t mean that Realmuto won’t ever pop 20 home runs in a single season.

Of course, there is an opportunity for a trade, as Miami seems committed to trading its more valuable players in return for young prospects during a full rebuild. Realmuto has been linked to a team like the Washington Nationals, which would be a great landing spot, seeing as he would be playing in an offense that features Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper. A trade likely wouldn’t occur until closer to the trade deadline, but there will certainly be teams interested in Realmuto’s services.

Given the fact that Realmuto is a catcher, he raises some other questions in the draft, especially if you abide by the mindset of waiting for a catcher. There is a steep drop off after the big five catchers (Gary Sanchez, Buster Posey, Willson Contreras, Realmuto, Salvador Perez), so while it will take a 10th or 11th round draft pick to secure Realmuto’s skillset (12-team formats), perhaps the investment in a potential 20-homer, 10-steal guy behind the plate is more beneficial than waiting until the 22nd round and grabbing a Wellington Castillo or Chris Iannetta.

While none of his numbers will be category winners by any means, he contributes across the board and is the only catcher with a legitimate chance to hit 15 home runs and steal 10 bases. Realmuto is a unique fantasy asset with a safe floor at a position that is far from safe as a whole.