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  • Ethan Semendinger

Who's Catching in the Postseason? (Trevino)

Jose Trevino (115 games) or Kyle Higashioka (83 games)? The All-Star or the Hot Hand? The Glove or the Bat? Who plays?

 

Jose Trevino (The Case For):


Acquired at the last minute on April 2nd, 2022 in a trade with the Texas Rangers for Albert Abreu (who was later DFA'ed and came back to the Yankees) and Robert Ahlstrom, Jose Trevino came into the season as some much needed catching depth.


The Yankees had traded their former starting catcher, Gary Sanchez, in the middle of May with Gio Urshela for a package of Josh Donaldson, IKF, and the hopeful heir-apparent in Ben Rortvedt. Rortvedt was quickly envisioned as a guy who would platoon with back-up catcher Kyle Higashioka in 2022 and then take the reigns for the future. However, he was quickly sidelined with an oblique injury which sidelined him for most of the 2022 season. Now down 2 catchers and with Rob Brantly as the only other catching option, the Yankees needed somebody. This led them to Jose Trevino. This was a fantastic move for the Yankees.


Going into the 2022 season, Kyle Higashioka had won the battle to be the starting catcher- helped massively by his 7 spring training home runs- and Jose Trevino was the back-up. This didn't stay long. In a combination of good defensive play from Trevino (and poor play from Higashioka), Trevino had comfortably taken the starting job by the middle of May.


From May 1st to the All-Star Break, Jose Trevino hit to a .259/.304/.442/.746 quadruple slash with 7 home runs, and 25 RBI's over 53 games. He had a high-water mark batting average of .309 after June 11th and earned his way as the 2nd catcher in the All-Star Game for the American League.

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This is where the "pro-Trevino" crowd gets their biggest argument. On the surface, it would look to be an absolute mistake to not start a current-year All-Star. Relative to the catchers in his half of the MLB, he was playing as one of the best. (Unfortunately, he was also competing with Alejandro Kirk, who may get some serious MVP votes this year.) He's been a bright spot on the Yankees roster, in the daily line-up, and when comparing position-by-position to most other teams across the MLB.


The another argument largely in favor of Jose Trevino is his defense. It's not too long ago to remember a time when Yankees fans were clamoring for a catcher to provide solid defense behind the plate while giving up the "home run or nothing" approach. Jose Trevino did exactly this. He has a 100th percentile mark for framing across the MLB, a +1.7 dWAR (from BaseballReference), and a +29.0 Defense (from Fangraphs). Putting him as the starting catcher brings back the old era of catchers as defense-first-and-foremost players.


It's also appropriate to mention that Trevino has appeared to be clutch this season. I know "clutch" statistics exist, but I find them hard to really trust as sample sizes will always be incredibly low when looking at a lone season. Though, he has come up with 2 walk-off wins for the Yankees this season. Once against the Baltimore Orioles on May 24th and once against the Chicago Cubs on June 10th.

 

Jose Trevino (The Case Against):


After winning the vote to be the back-up catcher for the American League in the 2022 All-Star Game, Jose Trevino took a step back offensively through the remainder of the regular season. From the All-Star Break (July 21st) to the end of the season (October 5th), Jose Trevino hit to a .244/.266/.360/.626 quadruple slash. That's a difference of nearly .040 in OBP, .080 in SLG, and .120 in OPS from how he was playing in the 2 months leading up to the All-Star Game. That's a very big shift for a player from being a comfortably above average hitter to a below average hitter.


If we want to play the even more recent game, Trevino hit:

  • .286/.313/.442/.754 in August with 3 home runs in 21 games

  • .177/.203/.258/.461 in September/October with 1 home run in 21 games

To say that his bat is and would be a liability in a postseason line-up would be an understatement. A team, regardless of the defensive potential provided by a player, cannot reasonably line-up a player who is batting under .200 during the postseason. Players batting below the Mendoza line make playoff rosters for two reasons:

  • A late-game defensive substitute

  • A late-game pinch runner/base stealer/extra base getter

By this metric, Jose Trevino should (obviously) be on the Yankees postseason roster. Allow him to substitute in each game in the 7th or 8th inning to provide some great late-game defense and prevent any potential disasters via passed balls, wild pitches, etc.

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