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Bucco Breakfast: 2018 Pirates Catchers’ Success Came From Contact Skills

Hit em hard and pray.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Pittsburgh Pirates Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ catching tandem of Elias Diaz and Francisco Cervelli was a bright spot for the club in 2018, and they have their contact skills to thank.

Welcome to Bucco Breakfast, a new daily morning feature designed to help you through the offseason. Each day we’ll roll out a quick topic designed to spark conversation as well as provide some interesting baseball reading from around the web.

We recently attempted to intelligently point out the areas in which the Pittsburgh Pirates should invest their limited resources.

One area for the club that needs no urgent attention is the catching position. As shown in the piece linked above, Bucco Backstops posted the second highest WAA (Wins Above Average) in MLB. They have solid contact skills to thank.

No matter how you slice things up, the Cervelli/Diaz duo made the most of their contact.

If you prefer xWOBA by contact:

Or perhaps you like to plainly see just how hard their contact was, regardless of context:

If power’s more your thing, take a look at this:

There are holes, sure, but on the ...whole, Pittsburgh Pirates catchers did the job in 2018 thanks to solid contact skills. With Cervelli already having shown enough to expect a certain baseline of solid plate discipline, these facts and figures are especially encouraging for Diaz going forward. Having already posted an elite strikeout rate (just 14.4 percent) and solid walk rate (7.6 percent), Diaz has the tools necessary to begin accepting more time behind the plate.

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