Traditionally, catchers are not as good of hitters as other position players. Their bodies take a beating and they have to try and split their time between working on their swings and building a rapport with every pitcher on the staff.
While Zunino’s offense was historically bad last season (second worst average in Rays’ history for a player with over 200 at bats) his glove shined again. Here’s what Erik Neander had to say in an article at MLB.com.
"“Last year, you come in and he’s learning teammates, you’re learning the staff, you’re learning Port Charlotte and everything is new. This year, he can come back with that familiarity and with an offseason to get ready and know exactly where he’s going to be and what it’s going to look like, and for a lot of guys that can make a big difference.”"
Blake Snell responded to the news that Zunino was coming back.
"“(Zunino) is a stud behind the plate as well and he’s a good veteran presence.”"
Defense is number one when it comes to the catcher position. This is especially true with the Rays’ philosophy. Zunino proved his worth despite hitting .165. Zunino earned the Wilson defensive player of the year award in 2018. He finished that season with 12 defensive runs saved and a .998 fielding percentage.
This past season Zunino added another nine defensive runs saved and threw out a career high 39% of base runners. So, what about that bat?