Boston Red Sox player preview 2018: Christian Vazquez primed for All-Star season

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 27: Josh Donaldson
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 27: Josh Donaldson /

Christian Vazquez took a major step forward in 2017 for the Boston Red Sox and could blossom even more in 2018 if given a full-time role.

Back in 2014, the position of catcher was one the Boston Red Sox believed to be set for years to come. The organization had one player making his debut with another high-quality player waiting in the wings.

Plans haven’t exactly come to fruition, with injuries slowing the progress and development of Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart.

2018 promises to get the plan for the Red Sox back on track.

Vazquez is coming off a solid 2017 and seems primed for even more of a breakout season. I’ll even go as far as saying Vazquez could be an all-star if he tops the depth chart at catcher.

New manager Alex Cora hasn’t given much indication one way or the other as to who will lock down the spot. All three catchers – Vazquez, Swihart and Sandy Leon – have split time in spring training. All are putting up good numbers at the plate as well.

Vazquez started 2017 in a backup role. By the end of the season he was entrusted with catching three-fifths of the staff. His power numbers didn’t astound (five home runs, 32 runs driven in), but he was a consistent line-drive hitter.

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Playing in 99 games, Vazquez ended the season with a .290 batting average. He hit 18 doubles and 2 triples while scoring 43 runs.

This is a jump from 57 games and a .227 average in 2016. Given the opportunity to play even more, Vazquez should see his numbers only continue to improve in 2018.

An All-Star in 2018

Out of the three catchers, Vazquez should have the edge due to his acumen behind the plate, his defense, and most importantly, his rocket arm.

Vazquez had a .991 fielding percentage for the Boston Red Sox in 2017, committing eight errors.

Baserunners ran on Vazquez at their own risk. He threw out 21 of 50 (42%) of those attempting to steal on him, good for the third-best average in the American League.

Given a chance to play in 120 games or more, Vazquez could very well be the first All-Star catcher from Boston since Victor Martinez made the team in 2010.

If named the full-time catcher, Vazquez could see his numbers rise again. I see a year of10 home runs, 50 RBI’s, and 70 runs scored. His batting average might dip slightly, but Vazquez finds ways to put the ball in play. This will provide the Red Sox lineup around him with plenty of opportunities.

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Even if he ends up splitting time with Leon or Swihart, Vazquez is still a valuable part of this Boston team. It might not mean a possible all-star selection, but as long as he continues to be a defensive stalwart, he’ll have a spot in Boston for years to come.