Red Sox’ Christian Vazquez Emerging as One of Baseball’s Best Catchers

As the Red Sox have put together their first winning streak of the 2020 season over the past two games, Christian Vazquez has emerged as one of the more daunting figures in Boston’s everyday lineup.

In their last two victories over the New York Mets, the Sox have plated 10 total runs. Vazquez, by himself, is responsible for exactly 60% of that offensive production.

While playing at Citi Field for the first time in his major-league career, the 29-year-old went 4-for-8 (.500) with three home runs, six RBI, and three runs scored.

It’s a small sample size, sure, but when taking into consideration what he did at the plate last season and what he’s doing at the plate thus far in 2020, it’s becoming more and more apparent that Vazquez is emerging as one of the backstops in all of baseball. His manager Ron Roenicke said as much earlier this week..

“As a catcher, he’s really got to be up there at the top at what they do and the offensive part,” Roenicke said in regards to Vazquez via Zoom on Wednesday. “I know (Buster) Posey has always been one of those guys and (J.T.) Realmuto is one of those guys. And it used to be (Yadier) Molina. So Vazquez has put himself in a category with the best catchers. Defensively we know he does a good job. Offensively, last year, I thought he really stepped it up, showed us what he can do and he’s looking right now like he’s going to be that type of player again. So great for him.”

Vazquez himself has an adequate reason for upping his offensive game. Following a two-homer performance against the Metropolitans on Thursday, the Puerto Rican national recalled how he was once viewed as a defense-first catcher and how he wanted to prove that stereotype wrong beginning last year.

“I was tired of hitting ninth,” said Vazquez. “I want to be a different player. I want to feel like I’m helping the team both ways, hitting and catching. I’m trying to do my best.”

In addition to crushing two big flies off Mets starter Steven Matz on Thursday, Vazquez also helped Red Sox starter Martin Perez out by nabbing Michael Conforto at second on a failed stolen base attempt in the second inning. That play, as well as calling a fairly good game behind the plate, also got the attention of Roenicke.

“He’s doing both things,” the Sox skipper said Thursday. “Called a really nice game, blocked well, the throw from his knees to throw out the baserunner and obviously, the offense. We’ll keep him out there. As long as he’s catching like this and he’s feeling strong, we’ll keep putting him out there.”

According to FanGraphs‘ 2020 leaderboards, Vazquez leads all major-league catchers in fWAR (0.7) just about a full week into the new season. Again, it’s a small sample size and it’s also early, but it just goes to show that Vazquez could be among baseball’s elite behind the plate. Only time will tell if he is able to keep it up.

Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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