More Higgy, less Trevino (…?)

We’re at that time of the calendar year in which we’re less than one month away from Opening Day and we can start having serious conversations about the Yankees’ 2023 roster and the expectations of individual players. The health of both DJ LeMahieu and Giancarlo Stanton is going to go a long way toward determining the Yankees’ success in 2023 (as seems the case every season) and I’m one of many fans who really want to see Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe get legit opportunities to shine.

Yet one roster item that seems to be flying under the radar is the team’s catchers. I’m not referring to the numerous injuries to the organization’s depth at the position, but with the presumptive opening day backstops Jose Trevino and Kyle Higashioka. I write this because despite the well-deserved accolades, Jose Trevino wasn’t particularly good over the 2022 season’s second half – essentially he became the Jose Trevino we all expected.

Conversely, Kyle Higashioka had a phenomenal second half of ’22 that doesn’t get acknowledged enough. Due to all the above, I’d expect more from Higashioka this season, and less from Trevino.

On June 8th of last year, Higashioka went one for three with a double in an 8-1 Yankees loss to the Twins in Minnesota. From that day on he was one of the Yankees’ best players over the rest of the 2022 season – in fact he may have been the team’s second-best player. That may be hard to believe, but it’s true, as only Oswaldo Cabrera produced more fWAR per game than Higgy from June 8th on and that was only by a pinstriped margin.

From June 8th through October 5th, Higgy produced 1.7 fWAR which was more than Anthony Rizzo produced (and as you would imagine, IKF, Aaron Hicks, and Josh Donaldson as well) and was essentially the same fWAR as Gleyber Torres (1.9) and DJ LeMahieu (1.8) with significantly fewer games played over that span (38 fewer than Gleyber, 26 fewer than DJ to be exact).

Of course, being a good defensive catcher is going to help a player’s WAR (as it should) and Higgy’s work behind the plate was very good last season, which we’ll come back to in a minute. But it was far from just that – Higgy brought the boom stick to the batters box with him over the season’s last four months.

His .493 SLG from June 8th on was second on the team while his 120 wRC+ was third best among those wearing pinstripes over that span. And if you’re thinking “that’s great, but outside of Judge, Yankees batters didn’t exactly light things up over the season’s second half” consider this:

Higgy’s .493 SLG from June 8th on was at the 91st percentile in MLB among batters with at least 150 PA.

Defensively, Higgy was overshadowed by his Platinum Glove winning teammate Jose Trevino but make no mistake: Higgy is a very good defensive catcher.

Higashioka finished 9th among MLB catchers in Defensive Runs Above Average in 2022, despite starting only 72 games, and his framing (71st percentile) and arm (64th percentile in pop time) are both above average. Even when his power stroke isn’t around, he’s going to contribute to winning baseball games.

I certainly understand that 150 or so PA over four months isn’t a big sample size (especially for a guy with a career 72 OPS+) but it isn’t an insignificant sample size either. I’m of the mind that Higgy, who’s always shown he has power, may have turned a corner with semi-regular playing time last season and we can and should expect more from him this year.

Conversely, I’d temper the expectations on Jose Trevino. We’ll come back to that next time.

Did I miss anything? Let me know. Leave a comment below or yell at me @mybaseballpage1 on Twitter and/or the “My Baseball Page” on Facebook.

Buy me a coffee?

If you like the blog and would like to see more of it, feel free to buy me a coffee – Starbucks, tall, dark, no room. It may not seem like much, but every little bit goes a long way toward keeping the blog rolling. Thanks in advance!



4 thoughts on “More Higgy, less Trevino (…?)

  1. I am thinking that maybe the Yankees could use Kyle Higashioka more now since Jose Trevino has a minor wrist strain. I think we really have to wait and see if Kyle Higashioka comes back healthy from the World Baseball Classic.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s