Red Sox News: Christian Vazquez on MLB.com “All-Underrated Team”
Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez once again flying under the radar
When you think of players in the league that may be considered underrated, I doubt many will turn their attention to Red Sox backstop Christian Vazquez. However, in a recent MLB.com article, Vazqy was named just that and it isn’t new for the catcher as he’s found himself on the list before.
In what’s become an annual event for MLB.com, their “All-Underrated Team” can be a who’s-who of players that are ready to jump off the stat-sheet. The roster is built of players that were left off of the “Top-10 Players Right Now,” list. Vazquez found himself on the list ahead of the 2020 season as well and he backed up that faith with a strong .283/.344/.457/.801 campaign where he also added 7 homers and 23 RBI.
Earlier I said that I didn’t think many would think of Vazqy as an underrated player, and as I read through Anthony Castrovince’s description of the catcher, my feelings are more than confirmed.
"“Vázquez is our All-Underrated backstop in back-to-back years,” Castrovince said. “He’s earned this prestigious honor with a solid .278/.327/.472 slash over the past two seasons, while ranking eighth among catchers with at least 1,000 innings in defensive runs saved (six), third in framing runs (17.0), and third in FanGraphs wins above replacement (4.9).”"
Any Red Sox fan can tell you what Vazqy means to this team and how he’s become a leader to this pitching staff much as Jason Varitek had in the past. It doesn’t matter who’s on the mound or who’s in the batter’s box, Christian has the gameplan ready to roll and has everyone prepared for the task at hand. The interesting thing for him being on the list for the second year in a row is that both nominations are coming off of being snubbed for the Top-10 after coming off of a massive year in 2019.
That 2019 effort saw him reach career highs in hits (133), doubles (26), homers (23), and RBI (72), as well as several other categories. It really was a great campaign for the catcher who was finally named the everyday backstop and he rewarded Alex Cora’s support and faith. Once again he’ll be manning Cora’s pitching staff and will be looking to build upon the foundation he’s created in previous seasons.
As the team continues to evolve from year to year, Vazquez is quickly becoming one of the mainstays that are overseeing the transition. There may not be a labeled captain of this squad but Vazqy is definitely one of the leaders both in the clubhouse and on the field. With Chaim Bloom continuing to build toward the future, retaining Vazquez while he’s still in his prime would be a wise move.
Boston’s lead catcher is signed through this season with a team option for 2022, they could always decline and try to renegotiate, but that’d be a major mistake. Bloom is a smart guy and he knows what he’s doing, despite other players getting attention in regards to extension talks, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Vazquez given a new deal at some point before the season concludes. The Sox have plenty of interesting options at catcher behind Vazquez but none are ready to take the mantle from the king just yet.
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Though the league and many around it may view Vazquez in a different class from some of the other top catchers, he deserves to be in that conversation. His offense has been a bright spot for the Red Sox over the last few seasons but his defense is what has earned him an elite classification.
In each of his six seasons, he’s been well over the league average for catching runners trying to swipe bags. His lowest being a 30% CS% in 2020 and his highest reaching 52% in 2014. Basically, if you try running on “Mini Yadi,” you’re more than likely going to be heading back to the dugout.
"“Considering Vázquez is one of only three catchers with at least 700 plate appearances in the past two years (Yasmani Grandal and J.T. Realmuto), there’s really no justification for leaving him out of the Top 10,” Castrovince added. “But at least he has a home here!”"
Christian Vazquez is a force to be reckoned with and is one of the key members of this Red Sox lineup. As Boston continues to move toward the future under Cora and Bloom, Vazqy can be a key factor in getting the next generation ready to make the jump to the big leagues. Though he’s been snubbed the past two years and once again finds himself on the underrated list, I can’t imagine that distinction will last for too much longer.