While the season ended sooner than we would have liked, it did indeed end. So now there’s nothing left but to hand out report cards for the players of each team. We’re continuing this series today with the Cubs catchers.
Victor Caratini (241/333/328, 0,2fWAR)
Vic the Stick turned back into Vic Rattlehead in 2020, following up his pretty good 2019 (108 wRC+) with a pretty ungood 2020 (84 wRC+). In fairness, he wasn’t awful from the right side of the plate, where he managed an .892 OPS in 30 plate appearances. But when he stepped into the batters box on the other side of the plate, it got ugly. He hit .228 with a half dozen doubles in 102 plate appearances. But he had some value behind the plate, where he was the 6th best framer in MLB. Add those framing stats to the fact that he was personal catcher to Yu Darvish, the pitcher with more different pitches and movement than any other in the world, and you’ve got a pretty reliable glove man. But since he got a lot of burn as DH, his bad year at the plate carries weight here.
Willson Contreras (243/356/407 1.6 fWAR)
Contreras has always been a streak hitter. 2020 was no different. He roared out of the gates for the first ten games or so, looking like he was going to finally go from being one of the best catchers in the game to being the best catcher. Then he got cold, even dipping below the Mendoza Line by the end of August. He managed to pull it together near the end of the year to where he ended with a respectable 106 wRC+. Like Caratini, Contreras had an outstanding defensive year, being one of the finalists for the Gold Glove, as his framing changed overnight from a liability to a strength.
Josh Phegley (063/167/250 -0.2 fWAR)
He was pretty decent with the stick…in 2014 and 2015. Not so much in 2020, albeit in only 18 plate appearances. But he was the Cubs’ axe in the glass case in case something bad happened to Contreras or Caratini. He’s usually a pretty decent defensive catcher, but only got behind the plate for 14 innings spread across 4 games. He’ll find somewhere next season where he can be the axe in someone else’s glass case.
Contreras is one of the best catchers in baseball. Caratini is fine as Yu Darvish’s personal catcher. It ain’t broke, don’t fix it.