We have been teased by Travis d’Arnaud‘s talent for a few years now. In fact, back in 2015, d’Arnaud had the second highest wRC+ among catchers with at least 250 plate appearances. While he had always been knocked for his throwing, he caught 33% of base stealers, which was higher than the league average of 28%. d’Arnaud did this in conjunction with his terrific pitch framing skills behind the plate. Unfortunately, d’Arnaud did not build off of this terrific season. Instead, in 2016, d’Arnaud had another injury plagued year where he regressed in almost every aspect of his game.
The Mets hired Glenn Sherlock as a catching coach this offseason to help d’Arnaud sure up those aspects of his game where he regressed. He also worked with hitting coach Kevin Long to eliminate the wrap in his swing. While it is still early in the season, d’Arnaud not only seems to be back to his 2015 form, but he appears to be better than that.
After his early season struggles, d’Arnaud is now hitting .323/.417/.645 with two doubles, a triple, two home runs, and nine RBI. His most recent home run was the game winning home run after he had already caught 15 innings. For all the concerns about his throwing arm, no one has been running against him this season. Through 10 games, there has only been one stolen base attempt against him. This includes two games against the Marlins, whose running game Terry Collins was so intimidated by he started Rene Rivera over him in one game.
Another aspect of d’Arnaud’s game that has been overlooked has been his adeptness around the plate when it comes to tagging out base runners. While both Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto deserve a lot of credit for making strong accurate throws, d’Arnaud deserves credit as well. Each time, d’Arnaud cleanly fielded the throw and got the tag down before the runner could touch the plate. Over the past weekend that stopped four runs from scoring, possibly more if the innings were allowed to continue.
There is more to it than just that, though. We have seen d’Arnaud improve as a pitch-caller as well. During Jacob deGrom‘s second start of the season, the two adapted on the fly and called a different game to much better results. And yes, he has continued his terrific pitch framing. He is adept at both making sure strikes are called strikes and in getting that extra inch on the corner for his pitchers.
Right now, d’Arnaud is excelling in each part of the game, and he is quickly becoming one of the best offensive catchers in the National League. Because of this, he has started to move up in the lineup. If it continues, we may not be talking just about where he is in the Mets lineup, but where he will be in the All Star Game lineup.
Thoughts From Logan Barer
Trading R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays after his Cy Young season brought Noah Syndergaard to the Mets, so it has already cemented itself as one of the better trades in Mets history. If d’Arnaud, the original centerpiece of that trade, can continue to perform at this level (his potential), it would without a doubt go down as the best trade in Mets history.
I agree with MetsDaddy, I think d’Arnaud is finally putting it together – at least offensively. Like he said, not many runners have attempted to steal off him so it remains to be seen how his throwing is, but he remains a phenomenal receiver. He has a strong arm, the issue is his quickness and his accuracy, things than can be worked on and improved. For now, if he continues hitting, it will be hard to keep him out of the lineup even when playing against a speedy team.