Going Deep: It’s Real(muto) News, J.T. Has a New Home
It seems like we have been trying to figure out where the Marlins were going to trade J.T. Realmuto for several seasons now. Once Miami management made clear that they were cutting salary and starting a full-on blow-it-up rebuild, we all knew it was a matter of when not if he would be traded. Finally, though, our bedside vigil for the Miami Marlins of 2017 is over, as Realmuto was finally traded yesterday to the Philadelphia Phillies for a cornucopia of prospects including prized top prospect Sixto Sanchez. Over the last year and a half of trade rumors and speculation (where the fans have aged about 15 years), Realmuto has by far and away been the best hitting catcher in baseball and his new home field should only serve to help him maintain that crown.
Let’s talk for a moment about what this new ballpark means for Realmuto as a whole. First, here are his Home/Away splits from last season:
At first glance, they don’t seem too bad. There’s definitely a gap in AVG, HRs or HR/FB% but not the huge glaring deficit we expected. Then you look at the underlying power numbers and that’s when it hits you that Marlins Park truly did suck all the power out of Realmuto like kryptonite. Like if you hit Superman with a bunch of kryptonite and then he decked me, I’d still fold like a cheap card table because that dude is still pretty huge, but I wouldn’t go flying like 30 feet and explode into a million pieces like I normally would. This analogy has been brought to you by my super nerdy childhood. That’s what Marlins Park did to Realmuto. There’s nearly a 100 point difference in OPS, a full 61 point difference in .ISO (by the way, a .236 ISO would be the 25th best ISO in the league if spread across a full season right between Travis Shaw and Xander Bogaerts), and a 40 point difference in wOBA. That’s a huge difference. So, how should Citizen’s Bank Park help bridge that gap? Let’s take a look at their park factors using a three-year average when possible (I want to give a huge shout out to fellow Pitcher List staffer Ryan Fickes for gathering a lot of this data, he was a huge help, also the wOBA, SLUG and OBP factors were pulled from RotoGrinders):
|Citizen’s Bank Park||.968||1.24||.910||.994||.985||.990||1.01||.970|
Obviously given the massive difference in park factors, it’s easy to see how being able to call Citizen’s Bank Park home will be a huge boost to his 2019 numbers—but how much? Let’s do the math and find out. By the way, I haven’t included any RBI numbers yet because those stats are so team dependent, but we’ll talk about that in a moment. Here are his home numbers from 2018 once they are adjusted to the Phillies’ park factors.
Holy guacamole. What a drastic change. Now let’s add that back into his away stats.
That’s insane output for anyone—let alone a catcher. That average would have been the second highest for a catcher in 2018 and he would have been tied for second in HRs. The ISO and OPS would have led all catchers by a long shot. That’s just nuts. Now, of course, it is unrealistic to simply project this as next year’s expected output, so I think I’d prefer to put it into a range of outcomes instead. Park factor conversions are meant to be a conversion but certainly can’t be considered a straight one to one swap. Not to harsh the buzz, it’s just something that you want to keep in mind as we go along. Let’s talk RBIs real quick. RBIs are notoriously hard to predict because they are so team dependent, but just for a moment, take a look at the lineup he played in last year and then the lineup he is being inserted into.
Sweet mercy. That Marlins lineup is atrocious. They only have two players with a wRC+ over 100. Only two players on the entire Phillies lineup have a wRC+ less than 100 and they missed the mark by one and two points. I also fully expect a bit of a Cesar Hernandez rebound, so that leaves only one player in that lineup who was a below league average hitter last year. Lest we forget there’s also a big chance Nick Williams potentially gets replaced by one Bryce Harper. Either way, as of right now, Roster Resource has Realmuto batting 3rd in the lineup and I firmly believe there will RBI opportunities aplenty to be had in that spot. I’m leaning toward him breaking the 90 RBI mark and I think I’m being conservative with that number. Giddy-up!
Okay, let’s wrap up real quick with a full projection range and where we should be drafting him now. Based on the park factor adjusted 2018 numbers, I think we can effectively give him a ceiling of:
Now, that’s if everything goes according to plan and Realmuto continues to grow as a hitter. It’s worth noting that he has improved his home run numbers every single year of his career, so I don’t mind adding a few extra onto his ceiling. I think if he managed to get 77 runs with that terrible Marlins lineup it definitely seems attainable for him to get eight more to go with the aforementioned 100 RBI potential batting 3rd in this lineup. This is prime Mike Piazza type numbers. I don’t really expect any change in his stolen base numbers at all. Now for the floor:
I think his floor is pretty much matching his 2018 numbers with some minimal improvements based on growth, the better hitting environment, and the much-improved lineup. If I can get this from my catcher, sign me up every single day of the week and that’s for his floor let alone his potential ceiling. Now what do I think is going to happen?:
I cannot express enough how excited I am by this trade for Realmuto. I’m buying him everywhere I can. Yet the question remains, at what price? Usually, when I want some context, I will run my projection for a player through Fangraphs excellent Auction Calculator with the standard NFBC settings and find the dollar values that other players have put up the same projected stats (e.g., I project Realmuto for 27 HRs and Steamer has Paul Goldschmidt for 27 home runs as well. They value Goldy’s home runs as having $2.8 dollars in value so I can reason that Realmuto’s home run output would have similar value. Rinse and repeat for all applicable stats.) It isn’t perfect, but it gives a pretty nice approximation of a projection’s value. Then, find the aPOS in the calculator (which is how much you should add to a players value based on the position they play) and add that in and you have your total value. According to the calculator, a catcher holds an aPOS of a $20.8, which brings his total value to $29.7. Now, where does that slot in amongst hitters? Right between Christian Yelich ($29.7) and Trea Turner ($27.7). That’s a first-round value! Now, I am not in any way shape or form recommending taking Realmuto in the first round, especially since so much of his value is based on his position scarcity, but what I’m trying to say is he might end up returning 1st round value because of it. I’ve mostly seen Realmuto going in the 5th or 6th round and with this move, I think I expect that to move up some, but I can’t argue with someone looking to take him as early as the 4th given what I expect his numbers to be. Either way, I think with this trade, it is very easy to get excited about Realmuto’s future and to see what he can do in a real hitters park now. Get pumped folks.
(Photo by Juan Salas/Icon Sportswire)