Hedges VS MLB Average Catchers

Hedges vs MLB Average Catchers
austin hedges diving catch

I have read a tremendous amount of comments recently about how terrible Austin Hedges is at the plate. Talk that the Padres should trade him for a bag of balls because he can’t hit and other such garbage. 


The Best Behind the Plate

Anyone that has been paying attention knows that Hedges is probably the best catcher in baseball behind the plate. His pitch framing, blocking, game calling, and control of baserunners is all at an elite level.  You would be hard pressed to argue that any other catcher is better at those 4 critical portions of a catchers job behind the plate.

For those that are trying to say but, but, but UZR, DRS, WAR. When any of those take into account pitch framing and catchers ERA then we can discuss them. As of today, they are completely useless when attempting to compare a catcher’s performance behind the plate. If there is anyone better behind the plate today, I have not found him.

 

So how did Hedges do AT the plate?

Let’s take a look.   

MLB Catchers

.232/.304/.374/.678 with a HR every 33.6 AB

Austin Hedges
.231/.282/.429/.711 with a HR every 21.6 AB

 
His BA was almost exactly average and his OPS and SLG were well above average.  In today’s game, everyone in front offices and all intelligent fans recognize that BA is not the best way to measure a players performance.  It is a component, but not the most important one. OPS is a very good measure, although not perfect.  Overall, Hedges offensive slashline is above average.
 
Let’s also look at some more advanced metrics to find a clearer picture. Many in baseball believe that wOBA is the most accurate measure of overall offensive performance and that wRC+ is the best measure of runs created by a batter.  These stats are league and park adjusted.  
 
MLB Catchers
wOBA – .296
wRC+ – 84
 
Austin Hedges
wOBA – .301
wRC+ – 90
 
We see that in the stats that are considered the most accurate measures, Austin Hedges is above average for catchers.
 

I understand what most people are trying to do. They are comparing Hedges offensive production to the star MLB players and saying that because he doesn’t hit like Mookie Betts or Mike Trout that he must suck. Nothing could be further from the truth because that is comparing apples to oranges.

When compared with his peers, catchers, Austin Hedges is above average at the plate and the best behind the plate.

Where does he rank overall?

In my rankings, overall Hedges is a top 5-6 catcher in the game today and he is still just 26. Catchers peak offensively at 28-30. The best is yet to come.   
That is my take. What do you think?
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