Leon had a far worst season in 2018 offensively than Swihart’s 2015. Going into 2019, this debate popped up again as Leon was demoted to Triple-A to start the season while Swihart was in the majors.
Ultimately they had to recall Sandy as Chris Sale, one of the best pitchers in baseball until 2019, apparently needs a personal catcher. Despite that, Leon’s 2018 was superior to the previous two choices because of his great game-calling and defensive capabilities.
His offensive capabilities were abysmal with a 37 OPS+ as a result of .177/5/22. Leon wasn’t supposed to be the primary catcher as demonstrated by Vazquez getting the majority of the playing time in the postseason. Vazquez broke his finger in the early part of the summer, and Leon took over as he played 89 games.
Now, Leon’s numbers are far worse than Swihart’s in 2015, but he gets the nod over him for one reason – defense. He has a reputation as an amazing game caller and this was fully on display when Sale needed him.
He was able to manage a pitching staff throughout the majority of the season that ultimately went on to win the World Series. Also, his Defensive Runs Saved Above Average/year was 21 in 2018, Swihart’s was -28 in his only season as the primary catcher.
Leon may have ended up having the worst offensive season of any catcher on the list, but his defense is what keeps him out of the dungeons (9 and 10) on this list.