The bottom of the New York Yankees‘ batting order has been abysmal to start the 2022 season. One major variable that has impacted that group is the catcher position, housed by Kyle Higashioka and Jose Treviño.
When the Yankees originally traded with the Minnesota Twins, acquiring Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Josh Donaldson, and Ben Rortvedt, the expectation was that Rortvedt would feature as the 2nd option behind Kigashioka.
However, with Rortvedt requiring more time to rehabilitate from an oblique injury and then sustaining a knee issue, general manager Brian Cashman was forced to find a supplement. Former Texas Ranger Jose Treviño fit the bill perfectly, and he has been one of the best defensive catchers in baseball so far this season.
Higashioka, on the other hand, has been a complete liability on offense and has seen a significant downward swing in pitch framing and overall defensive quality.
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A look at how Treviño and Higashioka are performing this season:
Trevino hosts a 54% strike rate, having some of the best numbers when framing pitches down and away and on the outer portion of the strike zone. Higashioka features a 46.6% strike rate, down significantly from the 55.5% strike rate he posted back in 2019. His best zone is on the outer portion of the strike zone, similar to Treviño, but the remainder of his strike zones are abysmal.
Interestingly, Higashioka has allowed four passed-balls this season and eight wild pitches over just 28 games. Last year, he allowed six passed-balls and 18 wild pitches over 66 games. The sample size has decreased, but his efficiency has also headed in that direction. Treviño, on the other hand, has allowed one passed-ball and eight wild pitches over 30 games this season, clearly providing better defensive quality.
There’s a reason that Aaron Boone has been utilizing Trevino as the everyday starter over Higgy, who has caught Gerrit Cole mostly but taken a backseat.
Offensively, Treviño has a .236 average with two homers and 10 RBIs. His 14.3% strikeout rate indicates he makes contact with the ball far more often than he strikes out. Higashioka has earned a .164 average with zero homers and five RBIs. He’s sitting at 23% regarding his strikeout rate and just a 22.2% on-base rate. Treviño is getting on base at nearly 29%, so he’s blowing him away in both the defensive and offensive categories.
The issue here is that if Treviño were to sustain an injury for any reason, the Yankees can’t rely on Higashioka to carry the load in his absence. In addition, they’ve been utilizing a platoon, so their playing time has been mostly split to open the 2022 season.
Whenever Higashioka plays, he’s an automatic out on offense. Brian Cashman may be considering acquiring a catcher to help the group. It does seem as if the Yankees still have faith in Higgy to turn his season around and offer a bit more power at the very least.