Phillies

J.T. Realmuto ranks higher than Mike Trout and Mookie Betts in important baserunning category

J.T. Realmuto ranks higher than Mike Trout and Mookie Betts in important baserunning category

J.T. Realmuto spoke earlier this week about the pride he takes in his baserunning, a facet of his game that goes overlooked by most who don't get a chance to watch him on a nightly basis.

In any clip of a Realmuto ball in play, you can see that he runs better than most, if not all catchers. But baserunning is about a helluva lot more than straight-line speed from home to first. It's about speed, instincts, effort, experience, baseball IQ, attention to detail and cojones.

Realmuto has possessed all of those traits for the bulk of his major-league career. This will be his age-29 season. It seems unlikely he will move this well at 33, but with his athleticism and work ethic, it's possible.

He's not just a "good baserunner for a catcher." He's not even just a "good baserunner." He's one of the best in the league.

Last season, Realmuto took an extra base as a runner on 61% of his opportunities. That ranked 9th in the National League, tied with Ronald Acuña Jr. It was a higher rate of extra bases taken than Mike Trout (50%), Mookie Betts (59%) or George Springer (52%).

It doesn't mean Realmuto is a better baserunner than Trout. This is situational — things like score, inning, outs, the next hitter all matter when making the quick decision whether to go for the extra base.

Realmuto made the right decision with remarkable frequency: 

• When he was on first base and a single was hit, he reached third base more often (14 times) than he stopped at second (12).

• When he was on second base and a single was hit, he scored more often (9) than he stopped at third or was thrown out (7).
 
• When he was on first and a double was hit, he scored as many times (5) as he didn't (5).

When you combine the baserunning prowess with his elite defense, you can see why Realmuto is one of the most valuable all-around players in baseball even in a season when he doesn't meet his offensive potential. He hit .275/.328/.493 last season. Those are solid offensive numbers and strong ones for a catcher, but Realmuto's eventual nine-figure payday will not be all about his bat or even mostly about his bat.

It will be about the totality of J.T. Realmuto. You rarely ever hear a catcher referred to as a five-tool player but he's it.

Subscribe and rate Phillies Talk:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19 / YouTube

More on the Phillies

After COVID-19 battle, Scott Kingery rejoins Phillies teammates

After COVID-19 battle, Scott Kingery rejoins Phillies teammates

Phillies second baseman Scott Kingery, who was hit hard by coronavirus, rejoined his teammates and went through a workout at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday.

Kingery took batting practice and did some fielding and throwing drills. He did not play in the team’s intrasquad game.

“I feel good physically,” Kingery said. “I’ll keep easing into things for a couple of days. I hope to get some live at-bats soon then get into a (intrasquad) game.”

It remains to be seen if Kingery will be ready to play in the season opener July 24. He believes he can be ready.

“I’m in pretty good baseball shape,” he said. “I’m just going to need to get into a live game and feel it out a little bit.”

Kingery’s battle with coronavirus started on June 11. He has been healthy for more than two weeks but could not travel from his hometown of Phoenix to Philadelphia until he tested negative for the virus twice. His second negative test came back Wednesday afternoon and he took a red eye to Philadelphia that night. He arrived early Thursday morning.

Shortly after arriving in Philadelphia, Kingery was checked out by doctors. His exam included an EKG.

“They wanted to look at my heart and see if anything got messed up from COVID,” Kingery said.

All was good.

“It’s been a month-long process to get back on the field,” Kingery said. “I’m glad to be back.”

Kingery, who experienced shortness of breath when he was ill, experimented wearing a mask during drills in the field. He found it a little difficult to breathe with the mask. He’s not sure if he will continue to wear one in the field, but definitely will in the clubhouse and when around others.

Kingery knows how rugged coronavirus can be. He’s committed to following protocols.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies

An asterisk for the champions? Larry Bowa isn't alone in his opinion

An asterisk for the champions? Larry Bowa isn't alone in his opinion

One of the beautiful things about following sports is that there are certain people that are a part of your life for decades and you never actually know them. Larry Bowa is one of those people for me. I am not old enough to have seen him play. But I remember him vividly as a 3rd base coach for the Phillies, then later as the club’s manager and eventually a coach with the Yankees, Dodgers and Phillies again.

You can always count on Bowa for a passionate and thoughtful response on a baseball issue. That’s why I stood up and took notice when he told NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark that the champion of this Major League Baseball season will require an asterisk next to their name in the record books because of it being shortened due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Bowa is hardly alone in sharing that view and the logic is understandable. A 60-game slate represents just over 37 percent of the standard 162-game season. As we all know, even the worst teams in baseball typically put together a fair-to-average 60-game stretch during a normal season. So, there is legitimate reason to worry that a mediocre team or two will make their way into postseason. 

But it’s also fair to note that the second wild card, instituted in 2012, has already opened the door to middling teams making the postseason. Furthermore, if we truly want to hold up the value of the regular season, why even have a postseason in the first place? How many times have we seen dynamic teams like the 2011 Phillies or the 2019 Dodgers dominate from April through September only to see their season end in a week’s time because of three losses? 

One could easily argue the path to the truest champion would be for each team to play the other 29 clubs home and away in 3-game series. Best record at the end of the 174 games would be the champion.

Of course, if that happened, the majority of sports fans would question how you could crown a champion without having the finality of the postseason. There would be retired player after retired player saying the true test of a team is the pressure cooker of the October tournament. 

Ultimately, we all tend to assume what we have known is best and the only legitimate path. But it would be in everyone’s interest to wait and see if this season deserves an asterisk. 

Perhaps Bowa will be right and this shortened campaign will not pass the eye or stink test. Then again it might just lead to three months of exhilarating tension as every game matters substantially more than in years past.

Let’s not knock it until we try it.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies