For the first time in 20 years, a Phillies catcher won the Gold Glove award.
In one of the locks of the year, J.T. Realmuto was honored as the National League's best defensive catcher Sunday night. He beat out San Diego's Austin Hedges and St. Louis' Yadier Molina for the award.
The last Phillies catcher to win a Gold Glove was Mike Lieberthal in 1999. Realmuto was one of three Phillies named a Gold Glove finalist, along with right fielder Bryce Harper and pitcher Aaron Nola.
The only player in the majors within even 123 innings caught of Realmuto was Yasmani Grandal, who caught 43 fewer innings than Realmuto's league-high 1,139.
Realmuto threw out 43 would-be base stealers, 16 more than anyone in the majors and the most by any catcher in any season since Jonathan Lucroy nabbed 44 in 2016.
The advanced metrics favored Realmuto as well. He had the fastest pop time in all of baseball on throws to second base and throws to third base. (Pop time measures the time from the moment the pitch hits the catcher's mitt to the moment the ball reaches the fielder's projected receiving point at the center of the base.)
On max effort throws, Realmuto graded out as second among catchers in arm strength, just behind San Diego's Francisco Mejia, who achieved that number in a much smaller sample size.
Pitch-framing was an area in which Realmuto hadn't previously been atop the league. That changed in 2019. He put in the work in spring training and was a well-above-average pitch-framer throughout the year without sacrificing any reliability receiving the ball cleanly. That contrasted from previous Phillies catcher Jorge Alfaro, who was an effective framer but a butcher receiving and blocking the ball.
Realmuto saved the Phillies eight runs with his framing, according to Statcast. That ranked seventh in the majors. He was particularly effective in getting extra strikes on pitches on the outside corner.
Realmuto made just $5.9 million in 2019. He significantly increased his already substantial worth. An extension from the Phillies may cost between $100 million and $120 million. The upcoming season will be his last under team control.
Offensively, Realmuto had a slow first half but ended up having his best season. He set career highs in doubles (36), homers (25), RBI (83), runs (92), walks (41) and slugging percentage (.493).
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