Realmuto focused on being a Marlin, but ‘not opposed’ to trade talks
Waiting four extra hours for your flight to leave is enough to seriously aggravate most travelers.
Not Gracie Laine Realmuto.
The infant daughter of first-time Marlins’ All-Star J.T. Realmuto could have won a “best behaved” award on her first-ever flight Sunday night as she and her parents departed to Washington, D.C.
“She was awesome,” Realmuto said. “Our flight got delayed about four hours. She didn’t make a peep on the plane the whole time. My wife was upset about it, but the baby was fine.”
Realmuto’s week of firsts began Tuesday at 7:42 a.m. when he and his wife, Alexis, welcomed Gracie Laine to the world.
Just a week later, her dad got some well-deserved widespread recognition for becoming one of the game’s rising stars.
“Seeing my baby girl born was unbelievable and definitely the highlight of my week, but being here [at the All-Star Game] is really cool,” Realmuto said. “It’s been a special week I’ll cherish forever. She’s been everything I hoped she’d be.”
Realmuto has become arguably the game’s most versatile catcher in less than four major-league seasons.
Realmuto entered the break hitting .310 with a .536 slugging percentage, and .902 OPS which led all NL catchers while being ranked second in home runs (12) and RBI (45). He leads all catchers in wins above replacement (3.8 wins), a metric used to measure a player’s value to a team, and trails only Lorenzo Cain (4.4) and Freddie Freeman (3.9) among all players regardless of position.
Realmuto exceeded 35 or more extra-base hits in each of his first four full seasons in the majors – a feat achieved by only two other catchers, Johnny Bench and Mike Piazza.
“I’ve been a big fan of J.T. for a long time,” said Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, one of the NL’s catchers along with Realmuto and the Cubs’ Willson Contreras. “As a catcher you observe other catchers in this league and you see the way he plays. J.T. has got it all. I’m really happy he got this chance and that I got the chance to share that with him.”
Drafted by the Marlins in 2010, Realmuto was a multi-sport athlete at Carl Albert High School in Oklahoma.
While playing in a World Series remains the ultimate goal, being an All-Star was something Realmuto says he definitely hoped to do one day.
“I always wanted to play baseball as a kid,” Realmuto said. “Watching this game as a kid was really special and it’s a thrill to be a part of it. It’s hard to make it to this game. There are a lot of good players out there that play for years and don’t get to make it to the All-Star Game. So I’m honored to be a part of this.”
In a year where he has worked with a number of inexperienced rookie pitchers, Realmuto has shown growth in terms of his game planning and how to manage a pitching staff.
“Just being able to prepare mentally before a game and before a series and be able to have more scouting to go about finding weaknesses in hitters and weaknesses in lineups and just being able to manipulate your way through a lineup with certain things you can find is something that’s helped me and helped our pitching staff,” Realmuto said.
Earning recognition league-wide has come slowly for Realmuto, who did not crack the top five in fan voting until the final week before the ballots closed and also did not get the player vote to be chosen as a reserve. MLB chose Realmuto as the Marlins’ lone representative.
Realmuto said he arrived in Washington at 4 a.m. Monday morning. After getting some sleep, he caught up with former Marlins’ teammate Christian Yelich (also a first-time All-Star) and enjoyed seeing one of his all-time favorite players, Tim Raines, walk into his hotel lobby.
In addition to his wife and daughter, Realmuto said both of his parents would be in attendance for Tuesday’s All-Star Game as well as his brother, sister and his four nephews.
With rumors speculating as to whether his Marlins’ future will last only a couple more weeks, Realmuto wants to concentrate on continuing to develop into a well-rounded catcher.
“That’s something I take pride in,” Realmuto said. “I just basically want to build off the first half. There are always improvements that need to be made and I’m just looking forward to keep working on that.”