Miami Marlins

J.T. Realmuto’s numbers in second year as starter All-Star worthy

Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto gets a hit in the 5th inning of the last game of the series against the Colorado Rockies at Marlins Park on June 20, 2016.
Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto gets a hit in the 5th inning of the last game of the series against the Colorado Rockies at Marlins Park on June 20, 2016. lriely@miamiherald.com

It’s easy to forget J.T. Realmuto has yet to play an entire major league season.

And yet the numbers the Marlins’ second-year starting catcher has put up this season are comparable, and in some categories, better than catchers that were picked to next week’s All-Star game.

Realmuto, who opened this season as the Marlins starting catcher for the first time, has the team’s highest batting average (.320).

Realmuto’s average through 72 games and 272 at-bats ranks second among all major league starting catchers behind the Nationals’ Wilson Ramos (.335 entering Thursday), who was named one of the National League’s reserve catchers along with the Brewers’ Jonathan Lucroy.

“J.T.’s comfortable and we’ve always talked about how athletic he is for a catcher,” Tom Koehler said during a recent road trip. “You’re seeing that carry over to his at-bats.”

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Realmuto has thrown out 16 of 35 base runners trying to steal for a caught stealing percentage of .457 that is the third-highest in the majors behind Buster Posey (Giants) and Salvador Perez (Royals).

Posey and Perez were voted the starting catchers for their respective leagues.

“It’s unfortunate you never hear his name when it comes to All-Star talk because when you compare his numbers to other guys at his position he’s having a better year than probably everybody that’s up there,” Koehler said. “I’m sure some players don’t even realize how well he’s been doing.”

The Marlins had four players (Jose Fernandez, A.J. Ramos, Marcell Ozuna, Fernando Rodney) selected to the All-Star game – their highest total since 2005.

Realmuto did not crack the top five among NL catchers in the fan votes and was not picked as a reserve either.

The numbers that likely hurt Realmuto were his five home runs and 25 RBI, which rank noticeably below Ramos (13 HR, 46 RBI), Posey (11 HR, 41 RBI) and Lucroy (10 HR, 40 RBI).

Realmuto’s seven errors also ranked a major-league worst 16th among qualifying catchers.

But for a catcher that has still not completed a full major-league season, the 25-year old Realmuto appears to be on track to becoming a All-Star in the near future.

“Obviously, [being an All-Star] crossed my mind, but the guys who made it are deserving,” Realmuto said. “Making it would be awesome, but it’s not the main goal.”

In the wake of Jeff Mathis breaking his hand and former Marlin Jarrod Saltalamacchia under performing, Realmuto was called up in April of last season and has kept a firm grip on the starting role.

Realmuto is one of the most athletic catchers in the majors.

That ability has allowed the Marlins to hit Realmuto in the leadoff spot on occasion, which has helped them as they wait for Dee Gordon to finish serving his 80-game suspension. In nine games in the leadoff spot, Realmuto has hit .395 (15 for 38) with a .400 on-base percentage, one home run, three doubles, four RBI and scored seven runs.

Before going 0 for 4 in Wednesday’s game, Realmuto posted seven hits in seven consecutive at-bats - the fifth-longest streak in club history and one short of the franchise record.

“I think it’s just the experience and getting more comfortable at the plate that’s the reason I’m having more success,” Realmuto said. “I feel confident at the plate, swinging at the right pitches, getting myself in good counts to hit and not chasing pitches the pitchers want me to hit. That’s something that comes with time.”

COMING UP

Friday: Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez (10-4, 2.69 ERA) vs. Reds RHP Don Straily (4-5, 4.34 ERA), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.

Saturday: Marlins LHP Adam Conley (5-5, 3.65 ERA) vs. Reds LHP John Lamb (1-5, 5.43 ERA), 4:10 p.m., Marlins Park.

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