As most of the news and fallout have subsided and the MLB Trade Deadline has past, we didn’t see a lot of movement in terms of catchers. There was plenty of speculation about Chicago Cubs catcher, Willson Contreras, potentially being on the move as was speculated in his Player Spotlight two weeks ago. But alas, he stays in Chicago and by the sound of it, that’s where he wants to be despite the organization’s recent shortcomings. But I did note in that same article that the Houston Astros would be in the market for a catcher since Martín Maldonado and Jason Castro were putting up minimal offensive production. And as it turns out, the Astros did go out and acquire Christian Vázquez from the Boston Red Sox last Monday. Vazquez doesn’t profile as an elite hitter so let’s take a look at if a change of scenery is in Vazquez’s favor.


Christian Vázquez turns 32 years old later this month after having spent his entire career in Boston. By all accounts he’s a fantastic clubhouse guy and was a bit of a surprise trade deadline “sell” when you consider the Red Sox went out and acquired a couple other pieces, namely Tommy Pham and Eric Hosmer. To each their own. Vazquez’s time in Boston is over. His best year by far was 2019 where he slashed .276/.344/.457 with 23 home runs, 66 runs scored, and 72 RBI. It was a career year and he hasn’t come anywhere close to matching that production. It’s the only time in his career he’s hit more than ten home runs, but he did have some offensive success during the shortened 2020 season. His name was rumored to be on the trade block in the days leading up to the Trade Deadline, but it still came as a bit of a shock to Vazquez…

At least he had a pretty casual walk to join his new club. But now he goes from a team going backward to a team heading in the right direction as the Astros are poised to make another playoff run in an inevitable postseason clash with the New York Yankees. So far in 2022, Vazquez is slashing .278/.322/.424 with eight dingers, 33 runs scored, and 42 RBI. He doesn’t have the worst plate discipline with just a 16.3% strikeout rate on the year, but he also only walks 5.5% of the time as well. He’s a solid hitter and an upgrade from Maldonado and Castro, but he doesn’t do anything great as profiled by Baseball Savant. 

It is worth mentioning that this season, Vazquez was a much better hitter at home in Fenway than on the road. In 44 games at Fenway Park he hit .305 with 19 extra base hits compared to a .250 average and just nine XBH’s on the road. To extend the sample size further, in his career he hit .276 at Fenway compared to .247 on the road. Perhaps the offensive production with Houston takes a bit of a hit, but more on that shortly. You have to consider where Vazquez was hitting in the Boston lineup more recently. They were likely trying to bump his trade value, but they also had some injuries that may have forced their hand. After spending the first half of the season hitting in the bottom third of the order, from July 3rd-July 31st the Red Sox slotted him anywhere from second to sixth in the lineup. In that four-week stretch he hit .261 with four home runs, five doubles, 11 runs scored, and 11 RBI. Again, nothing to write home about, but he collected more of those “counting stats” in the middle of the lineup than at the bottom. In his short time with the Astros he’s been relegated to the bottom third of the lineup once again and it’s hard to imagine that’ll ever change.

However, there are reasons for optimism. From the spray chart shown above, Vazquez pulls a lot of his power to left field. You’ll see plenty of singles and doubles that went relatively deep and that’s because those are hits that didn’t make it out of Fenway Park. The Green Monster can be a little fickle that way. It can turn some of the hardest hits into long singles or doubles and it appears that happened to Vazquez on multiple occasions. That likely won’t happen as often in Minute Maid Park so we could see a little more power. Trey Mancini even alluded to this change in his introductory press conference as left field in Camden Yards was a detriment this year to his power based on the changes the Orioles made to their outfield dimensions, making things a bit more difficult for right-handed hitters. A similar argument could be made regarding Vazquez and the change between formerly hitting balls at the Green Monster to now launching them into the Crawford Boxes.

The big issue for Vazquez is what we can go back to from earlier in this article. If he’s hitting toward the bottom of the order, then he likely isn’t going to have as many opportunities to drive runners in. Last Wednesday he hit eighth and then on Saturday he hit seventh. He’s also pinch hit at the very bottom of the order twice. So it really doesn’t seem like there’s much hope that he’ll hit higher than seventh, especially when the Astros are at full health. 

Vazquez has performed like a top ten player at the catcher position in most roto formats. Our August Fantasy Baseball Player Rankings have him just inside the top 15 and I think that’s a fair ranking from a rest-of-season standpoint. The move to Houston shouldn’t have a drastic impact on his production over the next two months, but it was a move the Astros needed to make to at least try and improve the bottom of the order for the postseason. Don’t be surprised if there’s a little more pop in his bat when he’s hitting to left field, but we also can expect a good amount of home runs in his future to be solo shots.


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