A Trevino Appreciation Post (and an admission of guilt)

The Yankees have another big game coming up in a few hours, and we’ll get to that in a few minutes..

But before we get to tonight’s matchup, I have to admit I may have been wrong about something. (Keyword “may” have.) Jose Trevino is an absolute joy to watch behind the plate, and his defensive abilities are having a bigger impact on the Yankees’ early success than most fans realize. I’m saying I may have been wrong with regards to Gary Sánchez, of whom I was always a big defender. Although I’m not blind, so I clearly saw Sánchez’s drawbacks, in my mind over a full season his plusses outweigh the minuses.

Yet watching the game last night I noticed how relaxed I was when Toronto had baserunners on, which was a rare feeling over the last few years, even for Sánchez’s biggest defenders. Trevino’s ability to receive pitches, frame and block balls in the dirt gives me a sense of calm when there are opposing runners on base, so I can only imagine what it does for the Yankees pitchers.

Trevino doesn’t bring back memories of Gary Carter or Bob Boone who were next-level receivers and framers, but Trevino is one of the best in today’s game, both by the eye test and with data that supports it. Among all MLB catchers, Jose is tied for second-best in Fielding Runs Above Average (which weighs framing, blocking, and throwing) even though he’s played fewer games than every other catcher in the top six.

Of course, adding Isiah Kiner-Falefa to play shortstop has had a big impact on the defense as well (as does having Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo from day one, although to a far lesser extent.) When combined with Trevino, the positive results on the team defense, on the whole, isn’t just of the “eye test” variety, it’s backed by evidence.

So far in 2022, the Yankees team defense ranks fifth in MLB in Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), seventh in Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), and 13th in FanGraphs’ comprehensive metric, Defensive Runs Above Average (Def). That’s very good by any measure or without context, but now consider their rankings in those categories in 2021: 15th in UZR, 29th in DRS, and 28th in Def. Yes, the season is young, but it’s hard to understate Trevino’s impact (and IKF’s) on not just run prevention, but on the psyches and stress levels of us fans watching at home.

Of course, Trevino’s career 65 wRC+ is awful (despite what Michael Kay tells you about his batting average), and he has an inclination for taking a strike right down Broadway while chasing pitches up and out of the zone. But he’s only 29 years old and he’s only had 548 career PA, so perhaps with semi-regular playing time, he can pad the wRC+ a little bit. Because frankly, I’d be fine with a horrid 80 wRC+ if he’s going to continue to play this way behind the plate.

Did I miss anything? Let me know.

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