Boston Red Sox: Christian Vazquez finally combining cannon arm with hot bat

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 1: Christian Vazquez
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 1: Christian Vazquez /

With Sandy Leon sidelined, Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez is taking full advantage of the extra starts behind the plate.

First baseman Mitch Moreland may have provided the final fireworks in Friday’s thrilling win for the Boston Red Sox.

It was the cannon arm of catcher Christian Vazquez, however, that saved the game.

The Chicago White Sox had runners on first and second with one out in the 11th innings. After a strike from Heath Hembree to Chicago batter Yolmer Sanchez, Vazquez fired down to second base to pick-off runner Nicky Delmonico.

It was business as usual for Boston’s third-year catcher.

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He has thrown out 16 of 43 (37%) attempted runners this season. He had previously thrown out Tim Anderson of the White Sox in the seventh inning.

Defensive presence and a monster arm have always been the coveted attributes of Vazquez. Over the last seven games, his bat has done the talking as well.

Vazquez is batting 13-25 (.520) in this span. He has scored seven runs and driven in six. His one home run during the span was a huge one, a walk-off in Boston’s wild 12-10 win over Cleveland.

In playing in roughly half of this season’s games, Vazquez has carried a nice average (.282). He has been the backup to Sandy Leon, but as Vazquez continues to produce, he should be the starter for the rest of the season.

Vazquez over Leon

Vazquez and his performance at the plate has kept him in a position battle for much of his time with the Red Sox.

First it was Blake Swihart, then came Leon. Vazquez has maintained an edge behind the plate, but swinging a big stick has been left to his competition.

Missing out on playing in the big leagues in 2015 also slowed his progress.

Leon’s performance last season in Boston (.310 batting average, 7 home runs) helped him gain the edge in 2017. And though his average has dropped (.243) his power numbers are better than those of Vazquez. Leon has six home runs and 27 runs batted in, compared to two and 23, respectively, for Vazquez. And Leon is throwing out a similar number of runners–13 of 36–as Vazquez.

It wasn’t until recently, though, that Vazquez was able to contribute on a daily basis. Relegated to two or three appearances per week, Vazquez didn’t have much time to gain momentum.

With Leon being sidelined since July 29–he’s expected to start Sunday–Vazquez has taken full advantage. And because of his hot streak, he should be the starter for the foreseeable future.

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If anything, playing time should be split evenly for the remainder of the regular season. Then come playoff time–fingers crossed–Vazquez and his defense should take precedence. Then Leon’s bat is available off the bench for key pinch-hitting situations.

It’s still early August and much can change. For now, it’s time to go with Vazquez and let his arm and suddenly hot stick doing the talking.