Catchers are becoming increasingly important in today’s game, at least until robot umpires enter the equation (expected to be in 2024).
Pitch framing is a requirement these days, as are leadership skills, game-calling abilities, and a low pop time.
Pop time is nothing more than the time elapsed from the moment the pitch hits the catcher’s mitt to the moment the intended fielder is projected to receive his throw at the center of the base during a steal or pickoff attempt.
To sum up: a catcher not only needs a strong, accurate throwing arm, but the quickness of his movements towards the base as a whole are also crucial.
Realmuto has always had a very good defensive reputation.
In fact, he checks in all the boxes mentioned above and is one of MLB’s best backstops.
But his pop time is really spectacular.
J.T. Realmuto's pop time is on another level. 👀
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) September 28, 2022
A Truly Elite Catcher
Realmuto’s movements, footwork, quickness and reactions are all elite, and he has the best pop time in the majors.
That is why attempting a stolen base against him is probably not a very good idea.
This kind of defensive prowess was the reason why Philadelphia gave up significant resources to acquire him a couple of years ago.
He is a true difference-maker behind the plate and as a hitter, too.
He is slashing .274/.341/.475 with 21 home runs, 73 runs, 82 RBI, and 18 stolen bases.
The speed is also a nice bonus, especially for a catcher.
He has been the Phillies’ best player this season considering Bryce Harper has missed a lot of time with injury.