The 2020 regular season is scheduled to begin in late July, which means it’s finally time to talk some baseball! To prepare you for the season, Phillies Nation will be taking an in-depth look at all of your favorite players. Here’s a review of J.T. Realmuto’s 2019 season as well as what to expect from the Phillies catcher in 2020.
The premier move of the 2019 offseason for the Phillies was the signing of superstar right fielder Bryce Harper. A close second was the acquisition of All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto from the Miami Marlins in exchange for Will Stewart, Jorge Alfaro and Sixto Sanchez.
In just his first year in a Phillies uniform, Realmuto has established himself as the most indispensable player on the roster. The only problem is that his contract is up after the 2020 season and there’s no guarantee he’ll be honing his craft in Philadelphia for much longer.
2019 Stat Line: 145 G, 593 PA, 25 HRs, 83 RBIs, .275/.328/.493, 108 OPS+, 5.7 fWAR
2019 Season in Review
On March 30, 2019, Realmuto was presented with his first Silver Slugger Award of his career before the game against the Braves. Shortily after, Realmuto began his path to defending the title by launching his first career home run as a Phillie:
Fans quickly fell in love with the undisputed best catcher in baseball. Despite falling a bit short of expectations at the plate in May and June, Realmuto was far-and-away the best defender at his position through the first half and earned his second-consecutive All-Star appearance.
The then 28-year-old was the league leader in average pop-time to second base in 2019 (1.89 seconds), which in turn led to plenty of runners looking silly for attempting to run on him. “Don’t run on J.T. Realmuto” practically became a meme:
Realmuto threw out an MLB-best 43 baserunners in 2019, good for a 46.7 percent caught-stealing percentage.
At the plate, the Oklahoma native improved after the All-Star break. Much like his teammate and biggest fan Bryce Harper, Realmuto’s best month of the season was in August. Realmuto homered six times had a .949 OPS in 27 games played.
The Phillies went on to miss the playoffs for the eighth consecutive year, but Realmuto won his first Gold Glove and second-consecutive Silver Slugger Award.
The biggest question mark surrounding Realmuto’s 2020 season is his future with the team. Before spring training in February, it was conventional wisdom to think that at some point, Realmuto and the Phillies would agree on a lucrative extension before Opening Day. The two sides were in the preliminary stages of negotiations before spring training. Realmuto told the media on July 9 that the two sides “haven’t really gone anywhere since then.”
As the days go by, it seems like it’s becoming a near certainty that Realmuto will test free agency. Of course, the two sides can negotiate during the regular season, but it could be in his best interest to see what his market will look like come November. I’ve personally argued for why Realmuto should strongly consider signing a deal before the end of summer camp, but that now seems highly unlikely.
Realmuto has nothing to prove heading into his walk year. He is the best player at his position in the sport. Theoretically, Realmuto could have a down year and it probably would not be held against him because every team in the league knows what he is capable of doing. The only two things that can hurt his value are almost completely out of his control: a catastrophic injury and the dwindling financial state of baseball.
The 2020 Phillies are expecting Realmuto to be just as productive of a player as he was in 2019. The 29-year-old thinks he can catch 50 to 55 games, but he’s confident Girardi wouldn’t let him. The implementation of the DH in the National League will benefit a player like Realmuto as he is able to stay in the lineup more frequently than he had been in the past.
The big reason Realmuto found himself having to undergo surgery to clean up his meniscus at the end of last season was because he endured a heavy workload. The Phillies offense couldn’t buy him a day off as the lineup was noticeably weaker with him absent. With the universal DH and an even more top-heavy lineup in 2020, Realmuto’s workload should be lighter relative to what it was in last year’s 162-game season.
In a perfect world, Realmuto will go on to have another successful season with the Phillies and top it off with an extension weeks later. Of course, if we’ve learned anything from this awful year, it is that the world is far from perfect.
Will the Phillies re-sign J.T. Realmuto?
- Yes (78%, 54 Votes)
- No (22%, 15 Votes)
Total Voters: 69
Check out our other 2020 season previews
- Héctor Neris
- Zach Eflin
- Adam Morgan
- Jean Segura
- Aaron Nola
- Rhys Hoskins
- Zack Wheeler
- Didi Gregorius
- Nick Pivetta
- Adam Haseley
- Andrew McCutchen
- Vince Velasquez
- Roman Quinn
- Scott Kingery
- Andrew Knapp
- José Álvarez
- Spencer Howard
- Jake Arrieta
- Bryce Harper
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