In our next installment of Pittsburgh Pirates Post Season Reviews, we take a look at the team’s catching pool.
When I wrote the preview on the team’s catching depth, I had some hope that things would be decent as the season evolved, but alas, the team finished the year with three or four underwhelming names behind the dish.
This isn’t to say all catchers were bad, though. Injuries played a pivotal role in the downfall of Pirates catchers this season, so let’s go through the names of those who strapped up and assess their efforts.
I feel so bad for Bebo. He was doing fairly well for the Pirates through his first 21 games but a brutal hamstring injury ended his season in early May.
Pirates back-up catcher Andrew Knapp got ejected from the dugout and starting catcher Roberto Perez got injured— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) May 7, 2022
So second baseman Josh VanMeter had to catch for the first time in his four-year MLB career. Pittsburgh allowed seven runs in his first inning behind the plate pic.twitter.com/E0yqtTHyi5
Through those first 21 games, he slashed .233/.333/.700 and hit two home runs with eight RBI. Defensively, he had just one error in 159 innings for the Pirates with a .333 caught stealing percentage.
Perez also was a leader in the clubhouse, according to reports. Because of this, he and the team have expressed mutual interest in him returning in 2023, but it would probably in more of a reduced role due to the emergence of prospects Endy Rodriguez and Henry Davis.
Either way, bringing Perez back would help the club more than hurt it.
Remember Jason Delay during Spring Training? I didn’t think so.
Despite not having a breakout run in the spring, Delay came aboard the team as part of the taxi squad in June but became a mainstay in the team’s catching core after a slew of injuries depleted the depth and, honestly, he exceeded everyone’s expectations.
After a rough start, Delay went 6-for-12 from July 10-13, earning him a permanent spot on the team for the rest of the season.
Delay experienced a downward spiral offensively throughout the final months, finishing the year with a line of .213/.265/.271 and a 0.2 WAR.
Keep in mind, though, he was not supposed to be a part of the team at all this year but got a chance in the MLB. For someone who’s not part of the long-term plan, I’m content with how Delay played this year.
Heineman was claimed off waivers in May to fill in for the aforementioned depleted catching room and did... okay.
Like Delay, he became a mainstay due to the slew of injuries and hit .211 in 52 games with the Pirates. Heineman, though, was sought out for his defense. He threw out 48 percent of base stealers and tallied five defensive runs saved.
Honestly, the only thing I really admired was his lightning-quick pop time.
Pirates Tyler Heineman with a lightening quick transfer on this 1.89 throw out. The ball never comes to rest in his glove. The separation is at his sternum. He circles up to a power throwing position & gets the ball airborne in a hurry. pic.twitter.com/LYCZiv4TBD— Jerry Weinstein (@JWonCATCHING) July 26, 2022
While he likely won’t be back next year, it was neat to see him find some footing in the MLB for a year.
Honorable mention(s): Michael Perez
Michael Perez needed to be mentioned for one reason only: his three-homer game.
ICYMI: Michael Perez hit three home runs tonight. pic.twitter.com/jkY29CHviG— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) July 1, 2022
He was awful in every meaning of the word, but that night was incredible. It not only made history for the Pirates but it was also his peak moment in the MLB.
Wanna see how much has changed? Take a look at my preseason prediction piece and compare.