The Texas Rangers around this time last season re-signed Geovany Soto to a one-year contract and announced that he would be the primary catcher. They also picked up J.P. Arencibia as a free-agent, which was a bit of a head scratcher. Although when the picked up Arencibia he was regarded as one of the best framers behind the backstop, but it was noted that offense was less than horrible.
During the offseason it appeared that the Soto, and Arencibia would be the main catchers for the season and Chirinos could be the odd man out. But, as everyone knows that plan didn’t work out so well. Soto suffered several injuries and Arencibia couldn’t hit the ball, although when he did he tended to crush it. That was part or mainly the reason the Toronto Blue Jays parted ways with him. After Soto’s injury Chirinos quickly found himself as the primary catcher for the Texas Rangers.
Chirinos hasn’t always been a catcher, while with the Chicago Cubs he converted over from an infielder to a catcher. He didn’t warm up to the idea at first, but he proved he had quick hands, good feet and a quick release which made him perfect for a catcher.
Robinson Chirinos later commented about the transition.
"“I picked it up pretty quickly,” he said. “It’s kind of funny. I say maybe I was born for catching.” (Tampa Bay News – Joe Smith)"
Watching him play this past season it was easy to see that he’s fitting in to his new role quite well. He managed to catch 40% of base stealers this season, the league average was 27% and posted a 1.2 defensive WAR and an impressive 1.9 offensive WAR. I say impressive because catchers are not always the best hitters. Their main role is to manage the pitcher and the game, so hitting isn’t always their strong point….I mean look at J.P. Arencibia.
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Last season Chirinos had a batting line of .239/.290/.415/.705 with 15 doubles, 13 home runs and 40 RBI over 93 games/338 plate-appearances. He’s done a lot of work to get here and should remain the Texas Rangers primary catcher. The Rangers could use some of one from their farm system to back him up such as Tomas Telis or Brett Nicholas. Some day though expect to see the Rangers top prospect Jorge Alfaro playing behind the backstop.