Travis d’Arnaud has been one of the keys to the Mets’ suddenly revamped offense in the last three weeks and for his hard work, the young catcher seems to have found a home in the fifth spot of the batting order.
“He’s swinging the bat very, very well. He’s been driving in runs. He’s been hitting some homers,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “Therefore, he protects.”
It’s amazing to see the transformation with d’Arnaud going from a sheepish and passive hitter who lacked confidence, into one of the team’s top run producers at the plate since his return from Las Vegas. It’s been fun to watch him.
However it hasn’t been all wine and roses for the rookie catcher who has experienced some hard to ignore defensive lapses.
On Saturday, he was charged with two passed balls in the Mets’ 6-0 loss to the Padres, giving him eight passed balls this season, the most among all qualified MLB catchers,.
“D’Arnaud said the first one he was a little careless, he took his eye off it,” catching instructor Bob Geren said. “The other one, it extremely cut more than usual. It was kind of a weird pitch from Edgin.”
D’Arnaud does get high marks for framing pitches, but Keith Hernandez brought up an interesting point. During last night’s broadcast he said that d’Arnaud is so invested in framing pitches that he has lapses in his other principle duties as a catcher.
Hernandez attributed Saturday night’s passed balls to him trying too hard to frame the pitch which often puts you in a vulnerable position when you have to block pitches. He wondered if this focus on framing is serving him or the team well when the return is one and sometimes two extra strike calls per game.
Additionally, in other defensive metrics, d’Arnaud has a 3.83 Catcher’s ERA which ranks 51 among MLB catchers, and his Defensive WAR is -.10 for the season.
As for holding baserunners, d’Arnaud has allowed 29 stolen bases this season and has a .237 caught stealing percentage which ranks 41st in the majors.
Taking a page from Keith Hernandez, I wonder if the framing pitches also keeps d’Arnaud from being in the best position to guard against stolen bases in a play that requires split-second execution?
I don’t know the answer, but it certainly makes for a great debate on a Sunday afternoon.