2024 Texas Rangers Spring Training Preview: Catcher

Spring Training will begin in six weeks and it is time to break down position by position where Texas stands as they prepare to head to Surprise, Arizona to begin their defense of the World Series.
World Series - Texas Rangers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Five
World Series - Texas Rangers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Five / Christian Petersen/GettyImages
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A recap of the 2023 season for the Catchers

There was a lot of excitement for Heim heading into 2023. He was snubbed in 2022 for the All Star team and the gold glove. He lost both honors to Jose Trevino. It was expected with a better team that Heim would be recognized by the baseball media. He let his numbers do the talking for him. Heim became the best all-around catcher in the American League in 2023. He was a threat at the plate and especially with runners in scoring position. He is one of the best pitch-framers in baseball and he was finally recognized for how well he plays defense. He does all of this standing 6'4. It is amazing how good he has become in the short time he has been here.

Heim in 2023 hit .258, had 18 home runs, 95 RBIs, and had a .755 OPS. He became an even better hitter with runners in scoring position(RISP). Heim had a .375 batting average with RISP and nine of his 18 home runs came with RISP. Heim behind the plate caught a career high 993 1/3 innings in 2023 and had a ,998 fielding percentage. He increased his caught stealing percentage from 19 to 29%. The number of strikeouts he caught increased from 811 to 902. Yes, the quality of pitchers was better in 2023, but his pitch-framing skills are also a reason why that occurred. He was rewarded for these numbers with an all-star appearance, a gold glove award, and an All-MLB honor as well.

The other catchers used were Mitch Garver, Sandy Leon, Sam Huff, and Austin Hedges. Garver was the best of the bunch but still struggled defensively. Leon called a great game, but did not add much offensively. Huff showed tremendous power, but no consistency. Hedges was the best pitch framer, but was a zero on offense. It was clear that Heim was the lead dog and Bochy rode him pretty hard once he came back from his wrist injury and then in the playoffs.

Overall the group was a positive but that is mostly because of what Heim provided. Heim's season earned an A+ grade. He was solid offensively and came through in several clutch situations including in the playoffs. All of the pitchers loved throwing to Heim and he had their trust completely. He was a rock defensively and was able to control the opponent's running game.

Jonah Heim Grade- A+

The backup group would probably get a B grade for their production in 2023. Garver in his 27 games, most of which came in August, was very good. He picked up the slack in Heim's absence and got his bat going during that time. Leon, Huff, and Hedges all had moments, but were mostly ineffective at the plate. Huff was the best of the bunch with a .256 batting average and three home runs, and six RBIs in 43 at-bats. Leon had a sub .200 batting average and Hedges had a .184 batting average on the season combined between Pittsburgh and Texas. Hedges and Leon were more known for their defense and game-calling than their offense. Huff still is trying to figure out major-league pitching. They each did their job well enough in those games where Heim would be sitting out. The one thing each of those catchers did was help the team win. Texas had a 28-18 record when someone other than Heim started behind the plate. That is ultimately the job of a catcher is to help guide the team to victory.

Backup catchers grade- B