I understand that the catcher position did get better for the New York Mets as Travis d’Arnaud was shipped off and they brought in Wilson Ramos. Most people will laugh at the title of the post and show me a .288 batting average and 73 runs driven in. They’ll see my Yankee fan status and say “Wilson>Sanchez”. To that I say, you’re misled, you’re wrong, and you have an average catcher at best defensively with an okay offense.
The New York Mets didn’t whiff on the Ramos signing, but he’s definitely not what he was expected to be, and I would not be hesitant to let him go to sign a better catcher in the offseason. Before we get into replacement options though, let’s evaluate Ramos as a player.
A 105 wRC+, .416 SLG, .351 OBP, with a wOBA of .327 and an xWOBA of .311 is just not that good offensively. He doesn’t have a higher ceiling than an okay hitter who can rack up singles and not do much else offensively. He’s got an average OBP in my opinion because he’s got an average BB%, and that would be fine for a guy like Amed Rosario who can run and would need a spike up to the 8.3% threshold of walks, Ramos needs to have way more walks in my opinion because he’s very one dimensional as a hitter.
People will praise his contact, but I think it’s something that deserves little praise. I’d rather him strikeout 2 times in a night and hit a line-drive double than 2 singles and a groundball that doesn’t do anything because it shows he has power. If he hit .260 and had a .350 OBP but a .470 SLG? He’d be one of the better offensive catchers in baseball, and he’d have a ton more value but not only will he probably not do that, but he’s also aging and so it’s hard to see his power surge.
Is Ramos Really the Defender He’s Made Out to Be?
People don’t call him a really good defender, but no one really calls out how horrible his defense is. Let’s compare two catchers defensively, shall we? To give context we will sue 2018-2019 as one season isn’t enough basis in my opinion to get a really good opinion on a player:
rSZ (Strike Zone Runs Saved): -11
rSB (Stolen Base Runs Saved runs above average): -2
FRM (Framing): -9.6
Arm Velocity: 81.9
Rusn Extra Strikes: -7
Arm Velocity: 87.25
Runs Extra Strikes: -1
Player A is Wilson Ramos, and what about Player B? This was specifically for the Wilson Ramos>Gary Sanchez believers, Player B is Gary Sanchez defensively. “But what about passed balls!” Well, I would count those if they could account for the pitch thrown on said passed ball but it’s got such little contextual value I didn’t throw it in there, though even if you did, Ramos defensively is outclassed by Sanchez in every other statistical measure as a catcher.
You really mean to tell me that he’s an average hitter and a below-average defender in a position where a good arm is and decent framing can save a game just as much as their bat can if it’s elite is a good enough catcher to be considered top 10? Top 15 even? The New York Mets can do a lot better, and for a price that’d be much lower and give you a ton of value.
Finding a Better Fit
The New York Mets obvious target would be the 2nd best catcher in baseball JT Realmuto. While I know he’s the obvious best catcher on the 2021 FA market, I want to present an interesting candidate that the Mets could snag for cheap if Realmuto isn’t coming to Queens.
Angels’ catcher Jason Castro is a name that no one would think to put over Ramos, but in every statistical measure in 2019 he was a very good catcher. In 79 games he had a higher fWAR than Ramos who played 144, meaning that while he played less, he provided the most total value to the team. He had a 103 wRC+ and slashed .232/.332/.435 which on the surface is worse than Ramos, but his xSLG was .521 meaning he seriously underperformed in 2019. Where he stands out is in fantastic defense where he posted a 2 Runs Extra Strikes, -2 rSB, and 3.2 FRM in merely 79 games.
Do I think he’s a better fit than Ramos? Yes, 100%, the Mets would be getting an okay offensive catcher but I’m fine with the Mets losing a little offensively but gaining a fantastic defender who can frame because the Mets offensive attack is elite. Outside of Amed Rosario (who I think can improve) and Wilson Ramos, they have above-average offense in every other position.
The New York Mets need that defensive anchor at backstop, and if they want their pitching and bullpen to improve, they’ll land a defensive catcher with average offense over slightly above-average offense and horrible defense.