The Boston Red Sox have gotten little offensive production from their catchers so far. Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon might be turning it around.
This led to a lot of people asking for Blake Swihart to get more opportunities. That made sense because despite his low numbers, you can’t expect someone to hit well when they’re lucky to get four at-bats in a week.
Believe me, I’m a Swihart fan as well. He has the chance to be scary productive at the position if given the chance. I’ve lobbied heavily for him to get chances in past years, and I’ll continue to do so. Swihart has the most offensive potential and looked good when given more consistent at-bats in 2015 and 2016. That being said, I don’t think it’s right to give up on the two currently ahead of him on the depth chart just yet.
Vazquez and Leon have looked good in the past too though. Most notably for Leon, he hit .310 over 252 at-bats in 2016. Meanwhile, Vazquez hit .290 in 324 at-bats last season.
Heading into May 6 though, Leon held onto a .111 batting average. Since then, he’s gone 7-for-17 with two walks. In that time, he has one double and one home run, driving in three runs and scoring four more. This has boosted his average to .208
Then there’s Vazquez, who entered May 16 hitting at a .174 clip. He’s collected a hit in all three games he’s appeared in since then though. In that time, he’s gone 4-for-10 with a double and a run scored. This has raised his average to .193.
Now, neither of those are too exciting. The stretches are small, and their averages are still well below where you’d want them to be. They’re steps in the right direction though. Both have shown they can handle Major League pitching in the past, and this could be the start of a turnaround.
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It’s a safe bet that Leon will never duplicate his 2016 success. He was a sub-.200 career hitter before that season, and hasn’t hit nearly that well since then. There’s still enough in his bat to compliment his skills behind the plate though.
There are reasons to believe however that Vazquez could hit like his 2017 self again though. He’s made improvements at the plate over the years, and has been compared to Yadier Molina on plenty of occasions. A lot of people knock him for his opposite field bloops claiming that you can’t make a career out of it, but others have done it before. It’s all about taking what the pitcher gives you.
The slow starts of the two were masked by the incredibly hot starts of some like Mookie Betts. If possible, this highlighted it at the same time though. With Jackie Bradley Jr. ice-cold to start the year as well, the bottom of the order wasn’t getting on for Betts. This led to the catching position being highlighted as a problem.
Look at the season Betts is having, now imagine if he had someone at the bottom of the order getting on regularly for him.
Besides Swihart, the idea of a trade has been floated around — that’s a panic cry. 47 games isn’t early but it’s still early enough. Both Vazquez and Leon have suffered through slumps before, and both have gotten scalding hot in the past. There’s no reason to believe one of the two, if not both, can figure it out.
This short stretch has shown that there’s some life in the catcher position after all. The Boston Red Sox can take a deep breath, and give Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez some more time. Let’s see if the two can continue to climb their way back to respectable averages.