Tampa Bay Rays Catchers Are Crushing The Ball This Spring
By Seth Carter
The Tampa Bay Rays catcher position was thought to have regressed after the loss of Travis d’Arnaud. We take a look at how the group is performing this spring.
Many view the Tampa Bay Rays catcher position as a weakness, or at least a step back from where it was last year. Here is a rundown of the top four guys in camp.
Mike Zunino is known for his glove and his low batting average. Last season he hit .165 and that wasn’t too that far off of his career norm.
Michael Perez was set to be his backup last season before injuries forced the Rays to buy Travis d’Arnaud off the Dodgers for $100k. That worked out well for everyone except Perez.
Kevan Smith and Chris Herrmann were brought into camp as veteran depth to provide some competition. Smith’s pretty good against lefties and has career numbers that are eerily similar to Travis d’Arnaud’s.
Zunino currently has three hits in his ten at-bats with one home run and a whopping five RBI. The downside to his .300 avg and five RBI is his five strikeouts. He’s struck out in half of his at-bats this spring so far.
Again, with Zunino, we’ll take the low average and the strikeouts if he produces with the glove and can give us a power bat.
Michael Perez leads the team this spring with two homers, hitting his second one today against the Orioles. The two homers are Perez’s only hits of the spring so far. He does have two walks in his 12 plate appearances. Perez led the Rays in hard-hit percentage in 2019.
Chris Herrmann is sitting on a .500 average which is second-best on the team. He has five hits in 10 at-bats with one walk and two strikeouts. Kevan Smith is sitting on a .400 batting average with 4 RBI and zero strikeouts.
It’s interesting to see which catchers are behind the plate when the starters pitch.
Charlie Morton started today’s game and the Rays opened with Michael Perez at the backstop and hitting third. Chris Herrmann has been the man behind the mask for both of Yonny Chirinos‘ starts. Kevan Smith caught for Ryan Yarbrough and Blake Snell. Mike Zunino caught Glasnow on Thursday.
They are giving everybody an opportunity to get work in with the starters. There’s no doubt their opinions will be factored into the final decision. So far, it looks like a good group of guys that have a chance to do some damage behind the plate.