Phillies’ JT Realmuto defies the aging curve, sets new standards for hunters: ‘He’s an eccentric’

JT Realmoto He doesn’t remember when it was announced. It was sometime early in the season – long before the summer debates broke out and faded over how he’s aging. He reached the base and turned to Paco Figueroa, the PhyllisFirst base coach, during the match.

“I’m going to have 20 this season,” said the 31-year-old fisherman.

She was bold. Twenty stolen bases? “Half kidding,” Realmuto later said. “But not really.” In the last 129 years of Major League Baseball, the list of Hunters in their 30s who stole 20 Bases is two entries – both by one man: John and Wathan. His son, Dusty Wathan, oversees third base for Maskel Phillies and coaches.

“He was smart,” Dusty said of his father. “He could fly, too.”

This is why Wathan is particularly proud to see Realmuto’s work this season; He loved his father’s style of baseball. People may appreciate a good basic performance, but the nuances are often unnoticeable. Consider what he’s doing behind the board, and there may be no player in the entire sport at the moment that impacts your running game more than Realmuto.

“I mean, if you looked at him, you wouldn’t think he’s 31,” Wathan said. “He is in great shape. He is aging really well. He takes care of his body and does whatever is necessary to stay there every day.”

Withan continued the conversation last week. He cataloged amazing works. It’s an open secret that is taken for granted. Realmuto has eliminated 27 potential stolen bases with its arm – more than any other major catcher. The Phillies are known throughout the league for having some of the slowest bowlers on the plate, but teams have tried to use the eight least stolen bases against them. Realmuto has not allowed the ball to pass in 90 consecutive games – the longest such streak for Musk Velez since 1942.

And Realmuto, using his legs, stole 17 bags without ever being caught. He’s one of two fishermen in their 30s to have a season with 15 stolen bases and 15 hummers. Other: Carlton Fisk in 1985.

He did all this while getting 93 rounds – or 10 games – more than the next catcher.

“GT was playing great baseball in every aspect of the game,” said Rob Thompson, Phillies interim manager. “In my opinion, I think it should be, at this point, probably in the MVP conversation. That is how important he is to our football club.”

Catchers are not wired like other players. They are trained to focus on the smallest details. They are asked to sacrifice personal tasks for the greater good of the team. With that comes more physical stress than any other situation. Catchers should, in theory, be good base players because they are smarter and pay attention to it. But physical limitations prevent that – for most people.

Not Realmuto. Baserunning is an art measured by more than plagiarism. Many of them are not quantifiable. But Realmuto, It is also tracked by a scale developed by FanGraphsis the largest baseball running season for a hunter in baseball history.

“It’s weird,” back-up mask Garrett Stubbs He said.

shook his head.

“It’s strange.”


JT Realmuto threw 27 prospects and stole 17 bases in 17 attempts. (Orlando Ramirez/USA Today)

Realmuto can laugh about it now. But the night before Bryce Harper Broke his left thumb, Realmuto was hitting .236/.313/.352. It’s his second year on a five-year, $115 million contract, so gossip was inevitable. He is, after all, a 31-year-old fisherman.

It has since increased its operations by 134 points.

“A couple of months ago, everyone was in a panic,” Realmuto said. “The aging curve. I mean, my body feels better now at this time of the season than any August and September.”

How?

“I don’t know,” Realmuto said. “I’ve just been able to stay healthy. I’ve done a few things in the weight room which have helped. The coaching staff here have helped me a lot. I’ve figured out a routine that works for me. My shoulder feels better this year than it has in the past three years. I guess it’s just because of things Which we did in the off-season and continued to do all season. Same with the hip. We just have different procedures that I haven’t done before. They helped me stay healthy.”

With this health, Realmuto tested the limits of a typical hunting aging curve. He is the first catcher to start a 17-for-17 season on stolen bases since “theft tuning” became an official stat in 1951. He has accumulated 3rd highest number of steals without being caught in one season among all players – Not just the catcher. Only Chase Utley (23 in 2009) and Paul Molitor (20 in 1994) had more without being erased.

Thefts, in Figueroa’s mind, are ice. The real value is that Realmuto takes an extra base when 90 percent of catchers are station-to-station runners. “To be a good starting player, you have to want it,” Figueroa said. Realmuto has always wanted it to; It was just a matter of whether he should risk it.

There were more important considerations. “If he really wants, he can have 30 sacks (in one season),” Figueroa said. “But we want him to put up with his body.” The Velez has never been shy about testing Realmuto’s limits in terms of size. Realmuto, this season, has felt good enough to take some risks.

“I am very proud of him,” Realmuto said. “For me, that’s a part of the game that not enough people pay attention to. You don’t have to be the fastest man on the field to be a good starting player. A lot of it is instincts and just caring about the game. It’s something that goes unnoticed, but it’s something that helps the team a lot. Talk about it. It’s not in the box. But it changes games.”

Most hunters have those instincts. They don’t have the sportsmanship – especially in their 30s – that Realmuto has. It’s an uncommon combination.

“I’ve never thought about that aspect of it,” Realmuto said. “Maybe because I have better instincts. I always think about it on the other side of it. Maybe it helps. Just preparing and anticipating plays. I can go from first to third or from second home. Whatever it is. I’m just constantly trying to force the problem. I want to make aggressive mistakes.”

Figueroa praised the other Velez coaches in a tight-knit team for helping underscore the importance of the players running fast. “If they only keep hearing it from me,” Figueroa said, “they’ll probably change me.” But Realmuto said Figueroa was his motive.

“It’s the reason I’m getting more bags this year,” Realmuto said. “Being healthy helps, but it is the reason I have a really good success rate. It gives me the best times to run.”

It has become a daily thing between Realmuto and Figueroa. The catcher will see his coach in the afternoon. “Can we have it?” Realmuto will ask.

“We’ll get it,” Figueroa says.


Realmuto steals another base. His highest level the previous season was 13 stolen bases in 2021 (Brad Mills/USA Today)

Five months ago, in spring training, Stubbs introduced himself as a new replacement. It’s not easy to be a Realmuto backup as chances to play are rare. Staying sharp is a challenge. But Stubbs, like Realmuto, are somewhat sporty for hunting.

“I told JT he was the second fastest player in the major leagues,” Stubbs said.

This was a good icebreaker.

So, of course, he asks, ‘Who’s first,’ said Stubbs. “I told him he was looking at him.”

Stubbs was joking. Somewhat. He soon realizes what everyone else is seeing around Velez. It’s all in the details.

“I looked at some numbers,” Stubbs said with a laugh. “And he got me. But not much. Not much.”

Nobody touches Realmuto’s speed behind the board. He throws hard, but it’s pop time – the time it takes from hitting the field with his gauntlet to hitting the ball player at second base – that makes Realmuto an outstanding defender. This was always the case. still. He’s the best in MLBAccording to Statcast.

“Our shooters aren’t the fastest,” Wathan said. “And just by getting him back in there, the attempts go down. Then, on top of that, a lot of guys throw when they try. If you have a mediocre catch in there, the try rate against us is really high, which puts a lot of guys on second base. So, From this side of it, it’s huge.”

Combine Realmuto’s heists caught while defending with his 17 vs 17 stolen bases which is 44 bases for the Phillies. The leader of the major companies in the stolen bases, Miami‘s John Bertieshe has 32.

There are still three more years on the contract, and it will take Realmuto to stay diligent with the routine that keeps him healthy in 2022. He will probably reach his 20-goal goal in 2022, but that will be difficult (and perhaps unwise) to repeat in 2023. The Phillys bet Realmuto’s aging better than most Hunters because it’s not like most catchers.

Wathan, the son of a catcher who held minors for 14 years, has the right perspective. And he adjusted his expectations with Realmuto as he got older. Realmuto doesn’t just have Elite Hunter attributes.

“He has a high speed for anyone in the field,” Wathan said. “Elite sport for anyone on the field.”

This was always the case. He has remained that way, even into his thirties.

“You think about all the times he scores from first base,” Wthan said. “He goes from first to third. He scores from second place easily. You know, it’s invaluable.”

(Top image of Realmuto after hitting a triple on August 23: Mitchell Leaf/Getty Images)