May 28, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Texas Rangers relief pitcher Joakim Soria (28) celebrates with catcher Robinson Chirinos (61) after beating the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. The Rangers won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Sometimes in baseball your team plays its cards the right way in the off season. The front office makes shrewd, bold moves to put the team in a position to succeed by taking risks that they believe will help out their club. Sometimes your team does everything the right way and it all works itself into a successful season. This was not how the Ranger’s 2014 season worked out. Nobody expected Prince Fielder‘s streak of consecutive games to come to an end at 547 with the need for season ending surgery. Nobody expected the absurd rash of injuries to happen to the Rangers this year. Yes I know you’re aware of that; but did anyone expect a 30 year old Venezuelan catcher to see significant time at the MLB level? If they did expect it, did they envision him putting together these kinds of numbers this year? Sorry to say it but I don’t think Robinson Chirinos gave 2 yucks about what anyone thought going into this year.
Injuries to Geovany Soto and poor performance by J.P. Arencebia behind the dish opened the doorway to significant playing time for Chirinos. Robinson has started 70 games behind the dish this season which is 44 more than the second most used catcher Chris Gimenez. SB Nation’s Beyond the Boxscore has an article by Justin Perline about the 30 year old’s unlikely success this year that you can read here.
Robinson Chirinos’ biggest asset is his cannon of an arm that has been used this year to throw out 42% of potential base stealers this year trailing Baltimore’s Caleb Joseph by only 1.9% for the AL lead. Chirinos has had a strong arm since the day he was signed as an infielder for the Cubs but has worked with catching coach Benji Molina and soon to be Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez on his footwork when trying to throw out runners to be more successful. Who better to learn from than an all time great catcher and the eldest brother in the most successful family of catchers in recent memory? Robinson has also only committed 2 errors in 516 chances this year. Not bad for a guy that many predicted to be an average AAA player.
Chirinos’ leather isn’t the only thing turning heads this season. A man who had a career batting average of .205 in 90 plate appearances this year has a batting average of .237. It had been as high as sitting in the .250s but is now on it’s way back upwards. Chirinos has worked 10 walks in 269 plate appearances this year to pair alongside double digit numbers in both doubles and long balls. His pop is for real, just look at his first dinger of the season which he crushed over the green monster! Robinson Chirinos is currently 3rd on the team in home runs trailing only Adrian Beltre and Shin Soo Choo. He has also played in more than 35 less games than either of those players so take what you will from that.
The not so young not so old Venezuelan has also helped control an extremist pitching staff which leads the league in ERA and shutouts. During those 15 shutouts, Robinson Chirinos has started 9 of them and caught for at least 3 innings of 10 shutouts. The only reason he hasn’t been a part of many of those others is because for some reason he doesn’t work well with Yu Darvish.
In seasons that can be considered ‘lost’ it’s nice to find bright spots to keep you watching even when the games are not extremely meaningful. Player development is always one of the reasons I keep watching Rangers games even when my brother yells at me asking why I want to watch the Rangers lose. Robinson Chirinos, thank you for keeping me glued to my tv even when the Rangers are down 5 runs with 2 innings left. It’s guys like Chirinos that keep me loving the game of baseball. Thanks for reading and as always, God bless y’all and you’re fantastic!