Much has passed in Yankee Land since I started this two-part article, including Jose Trevino missing some spring ball with an injury, but my point still stands: Kyle Higashioka was much better for the Yankees in ’22 than most fans realize, and we need to temper our expectations for Trevino. Because Trevino, despite playing like Gary Carter for the first nine weeks of the season, went back to being…well, Jose Trevino pretty quickly.
From April 8th through June 11th of 2022, Trevino posted a .356 OBP and .505 SLG which was good for a 147 wRC+. Only Willson Contreras and Alejandro Kirk were better hitting catchers in all of baseball at that point and Trevino’s 1.8 fWAR was good for second best at the position across MLB. (Unsurprisingly, both his wRC+ and fWAR were second best on the Yankees at the time as well.)
Not bad for a player who entered the season with a career 69 wRC+ and 0.6 fWAR over parts of four seasons with Texas.
Yet it needs to be said again that a little over 100 PA over two months isn’t a particularly big sample size, so it wasn’t surprising to see Trevino come back down to earth. And come back down to earth he did…
After June 11th and through the end of the season, over 253 PA, Jose posted a .253 OBP with a .340 SLG which was “good” for a cringeworthy 67 wRC+ – a good chunk worse than IKF’s 88 wRC+ over the same stretch. In fact, of the 12 Yankees with at least 140 PA over that stretch, Trevino was the worst hitter by far on the team and among the worst in baseball – 4th percentile in wRC+, to be exact.
Of course, a catcher as good as Trevino is defensively is going to be a valuable player even if he is one of the worst hitters in baseball. Despite having a below average arm (32nd percentile in pop time last season among all catchers) Trevino’s 100th percentile framing skills and well above average pitch blocking ability made him one of the best defensive catchers in baseball in ’22 according to every group of smart people who measure such things.
The issue for the Yanks is that he HAS to be one of the best catchers in baseball in order for him to be a contributing player. It’s highly unlikely we’ll ever see the spring ’22 version of Trevino in the batter’s box again and as noted in the first part of this article series, Kyle Higashioka was pretty darn good over the second half of ’22. Although he was overshadowed by his Platinum Glove winning counterpart, Kyle is no slouch defensively either as he posted above average numbers in framing, blocking and throwing last season.
Of course, none of the above is a prophecy, just something to watch for as the season progresses. If the performances of the Yankees’ catchers continue to trend in the direction they did over the last four months of ’22, manager Aaron Boone may have some interesting decisions to make.
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