Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez comes through in the clutch

BOSTON, MA - MAY 29: Christian Vázquez #7 of the Boston Red Sox hits an rbi double during the fifth inning of a game against the Baltimore Orioles on May 29, 2022 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 29: Christian Vázquez #7 of the Boston Red Sox hits an rbi double during the fifth inning of a game against the Baltimore Orioles on May 29, 2022 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /
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Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez is clutch at the plate

Christian Vázquez recorded his sixth multi-hit performance in his last 14 games but it was the last one that counted the most. With one out in the top of the 10th inning, the Boston Red Sox catcher slapped an opposite field base hit to shallow right to drive in the ghost runner from second base, a run that would prove to be the game-winner that extended the team’s winning streak to a season-high six games.

Vázquez only has three plate appearances in extra-innings this season. He’s 2-for-2 with a sacrifice fly and two RBI. The Red Sox lost their first six games that went to extra-innings this season but we can’t pin the blame on Vázquez. Boston has won their last two extra-innings games and the RBI base hit by Vázquez delivered them their first extra-innings road win.

Vázquez is no stranger to late-game heroics. There’s something about those moments late in a tight game. The adrenaline is rushing, the blood is pumping. Vázquez seems to thrive in those moments, as he explained to MassLive’s Christopher Smith.

"“I love those situations,” Vázquez said. “Somebody needs to do it so why not me? The blood is going fast. So I like that. It’s fun.”"

Vázquez lives for these moments and the stats back it up. He’s 10-for-19 (.526) in situations deemed to be High Leverage by Baseball-Reference.

When the game is late and close, Vázquez is hitting .286. He’s batting .342 when his team is trailing and a scorching .361 when the game is tied. Vázquez isn’t one to pile on when the Red Sox have a comfortable lead but if it’s a tight game, he tends to come through.

Vázquez is tied for 28th in the American League with 0.4 WPA, which measures the change in win probability caused by the batter. They also have a metric called WPA Clutch, which measures the difference between context-dependent WPA and context-neutral WPA. Vázquez is tied for 7th in the AL with 0.7 WPA Clutch.

He doesn’t hit many home runs but he has a reputation for saving the long ball for when his team needs it the most. That hasn’t been the case this year, with both of his home runs coming in lopsided games, but we have plenty of evidence from recent seasons.

Last year, three of his six home runs came in a one-run game or a game that went to extra-innings. That includes a game-tying homer in the ninth inning of a game the Red Sox would ultimately win over the Tampa Bay Rays in the 12th inning. Vázquez also smashed a walk-off home run in the 13th inning of Game 3 of the ALDS against the Rays.

The 31-year old is having a strong season, hitting .288/.331/.403 with two home runs and 23 RBI. Vázquez is in the final year of his contract and among the many players the Red Sox will need to make a decision on at the end of the season.

Vázquez’s relatively modest career numbers at the plate are replaceable if he leaves in free agency. His ability to shine under the bright lights and deliver in the clutch is harder to find.

Next. 3 Red Sox players who deserve contract extensions. dark