Red Sox: Sandy Leon has earned primary catching duties
Sandy Leon’s glove should be enough to make him the Red Sox primary catcher from here on out.
With three catchers on the Red Sox roster, only one stands out to the majority of the Boston Red Sox pitching staff. That man is swinging, slamming, Sandy Leon.
It’s been a common theme for Red Sox pitchers to give Leon high praise after each game this season. After Tuesday night’s victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, the same story was read by Rick Porcello.
In Leon’s last 31 starts, the Red Sox are 28-3. I’m no math wizard but I think that’s a pretty good winning percentage. Throughout the course of the season, Leon also owns the best catcher’s ERA in the entire league.
Obviously, Leon’s glove is the most valuable aspect of his game. In 67 games this season, the 29-year-old Leon has a 0.8 defensive WAR which is 10th in the league. Amazingly he has only made one error on the season.
Away from the box score and statistics, plays like this help put the second-guessing away.
Although he may not have the greatest bat, Leon has done enough at the plate to make Red Sox fans feel comfortable. He’s slashing .212/.267/.332 with five home runs and 21 RBI on the season. Although his average and on-base percentage are slightly less than that of Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart, Leon makes up for it with his power, if you will.
His .332 slugging percentage and .598 OPS tops Vazquez and Swihart. So, even though he may not be necessarily hitting the ball or getting on base as much as the other two, Leon makes his hits count when they come.
While he has his moments with the bat, Leon’s glove is still his forte. It’s his ticket to solid playing time. Besides his WAR and catcher’s ERA, Leon has one of the highest range factors (10.67) among catchers.
However, I will say again that Leon takes his catching far beyond the box score. It’s his game calling (pitch, location, etc.), his understanding of the pitchers on the Red Sox staff and his pace that make Leon so effective behind the plate.
Take the rest of what Porcello had to say about Leon after Tuesday’s win for instance. Via WBZ radio:
"“His game-calling–he’s prepared for every start for every pitcher, starting or bullpen. He’s kind of the heartbeat of our pitching staff. We rely on him a lot. He’s always on point. He always knows what pitches to throw, give guys different looks. He’s as good as it gets as a game-caller and a catcher.”"
So if you don’t want to take my word for it, take Porcello’s.
When you have a solid defensive catcher who has great chemistry with all of his pitchers it’s almost wrong to break it. If the pitchers are comfortable with Leon and it’s working, why change the mojo?
That’s no disrespect to Vazquez or Swihart. Both have played large parts on this 2018 Red Sox team while battling injuries in their own right.
However, those injuries opened the door a bit wider for Leon to assert himself as the primary catcher on the roster. In that time, Leon has shown us all his glove skills outweigh his bat skills enough to make him the primary catcher on the roster.