Red Sox Year in Review: Top five pleasant surprises of 2017

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 11: Drew Pomeranz
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 11: Drew Pomeranz /
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BOSTON, MA – AUGUST 1: Christian Vazquez (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA – AUGUST 1: Christian Vazquez (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Christian Vazquez rose to prominence as a top prospect based on his elite catching ability. His strong arm and masterful pitch framing skills warranted his promotion to the big leagues despite that his bat was far from ready. He was all defense, no offense.

Now, apparently, Vazquez can do both.

The 27-year old had a breakout season at the plate, hitting .290 with a .734 OPS. That ranked first in the former category and eighth in the latter among American League catchers with 300+ plate appearances this season.

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Vazquez only hit five home runs but he’s capable of hitting it a mile when he does leave the park. He also has a habit of making his homers count. He belted a walk-off two-run home run to beat the Cleveland Indians on August 1. Four of his five homers either tied the game or gave Boston a lead and the Red Sox ultimately won all five games he went deep in.

There must be something about Fenway Park that wakes up the bat of Vazquez. He hit a blistering .348 at home this season. While former manager John Farrell generally split the catching duties between Vazquez and Sandy Leon, it got to the point where fans would be livid if Vaz wasn’t behind the plate for a home game.

His improved production at the plate assures Vazquez of entering the 2018 season as the primary catcher. If he can sustain this offensive success to pair with his outstanding defense then it’s fair to project an All-Star appearance in his near future.