Boston Red Sox Report Cards: Catcher Christian Vazquez
In the BoSox Injection player grading series, we take a look at Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez and how this season was for him.
In a dominant Boston Red Sox season that broke so many records and ended with a World Series title, Christian Vazquez was an important piece to the puzzle. Sharing most of the catching work with teammate, Sandy Leon, Vazquez was important as both a catcher and a hitter for the Sox.
Starting the year as Boston’s first option catcher, the Puerto Rican was a solid part of the team. The catcher’s season suffered a setback after fracturing a finger early in July, keeping him out of major league activity for a vast period of time. Vazquez came back from this and remained crucial to what Boston went on to achieve.
Over 80 appearances in the regular season, Vazquez showed that he was amongst the better catcher options in baseball. He maintained a .996 fielding percentage while developing a CS% of 37. While he ranked high defensively among competing catchers, Vazquez also had a satisfactory season hitting-wise. While the parts of the lower batting order struggled at times this season, there were many-a-time where this section of the line up worked their magic.
Although Vazquez suffered a significant drop in terms of batting average from 2017, he was still effective at the plate. The catcher was not afraid to swing on any pitch and put the ball in play on many occasions. He’s a good option to have in ninth in the lineup, as he’s fearless as a hitter and always carries the possibility of getting a hit and prolonging an inning.
Vazquez featured in all but two of the Red Sox’s 2018 postseason games. In a prestigious campaign, he was a part of an outstanding playoff side and did his job correctly.
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Sitting out Game One of the ALDS, Game Two saw the catcher come into the game in the eighth, but, not record an at-bat in Boston’s only loss to the New York Yankees. Game Three and Four of the series saw Vazquez record RBIs on successive nights as they got rid of Yankees.
The ALCS saw Vazquez come into the first game in the fifth and stay for the remainder, and then start the other four games. He also started Games Two through Five of the World Series, completing three of them, including the eighteen-inning thriller that was Game Three. The ALCS and WS didn’t see Vazquez contribute hugely, as he was unable to record another RBI. However, he went on a five-game hit streak, from Game Four of the ALCS to Game Four of the WS.
Ultimately, he was solid, catching a number of different pitchers. His defense was important in securing a ninth world championship, and the image of him jumping into Chris Sale‘s arms is one to remember for years to come.
In what was a sensational season, it’s hard to mark any team member of the 2018 Boston Red Sox down too much. Although Vazquez’s offensive numbers took a bit of a hit this year, he was still a presence at the plate. Not appearing in just over half of the regular season games will do this to one’s numbers. However, in a platoon with Leon and missing time due to injury, Vazquez prevailed when he appeared for this team. He was second to none, on many occasions, when it came to catching, making stops and plays from behind the plate. His numbers would shoot up if it were not for injuries stopping him, and we’ll see him to a fuller extent next year.
Looking ahead to 2019
The 28-year-old signed a new three-year deal with the Sox, back in May. He won’t become a free agent until the 2023 season, looking as though he’ll remain a big part of this team. Where the Sox now have three capable catchers, in Vazquez, Leon and Blake Swihart, they will most likely look to trade one of them away. Vazquez will be the favorite to stay in Boston, while either Leon or Swihart would, potentially, make up the other catching option. Whether the catching job is left to a platoon or one is nailed on as the day-to-day catcher, Vazquez’s durability and his potential on both ends make him a vital asset for the defending champions.