Christian Vazquez has delivered a scorching May, making the offense of the Boston Red Sox even more potent. Now, he just needs to stay consistent.
The position of catcher has been one in flux for the Boston Red Sox over the past few seasons. A game of musical chairs was played between three catchers, a revolving door of unreliability, inconsistency, and instability.
That game has now been whittled down to two players, with Christian Vazquez looking to lock down the starting role once and for all.
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There was a thought Vazquez would do this in 2018. Instead, he took a step back from his marvelous 2017 in which he played 99 games and batted .290 with 5 home runs.
In 2018, Vazquez hit only .207 while appearing in 80 games, driving in only 16 runs over the course of the season.
The first month of the 2019 season appeared to be heading down the same road for Vazquez. After management decided on Vazquez and Blake Swihart as the catchers, with Sandy Leon starting in Pawtucket, all signs pointed towards Vazquez as the top guy.
We know how that panned out, with Swihart getting traded, Leon getting recalled and Vazquez only picking up 8 hits in his first 41 at-bats of the season.
Despite the changes, the job still belonged to Vazquez. He used the second-half of April to slowly climb out of the hole, which has led to a splendid May and a resurgence currently similar to what he did in 2017.
Vazquez in May
There is still roughly a week left in May and Vazquez has been enjoying quite the spring month thus far. He’s hitting .386 in the month, with four doubles and seven multi-hit games.
Vazquez is hitting the ball and getting on base, setting the table for those around him. Unfortunately, his hits have taken place without runners in scoring position, limiting the opportunities to drive in runs of his own.
He has hit two home runs this month, part of an already career-high of six in 2019 (besting his 2017 mark by one). Vazquez has only picked up 2 hits in his last 11 at-bats, but has delivered a hit in eight of his last 10 games.
Overall, Vazquez is hitting .295 with 16 RBI. If the season finished today, he’d have career-highs in slugging percentage (.488) and OPS (.827)
Vazquez also had a slow start behind the plate in throwing out runners. His cannon has returned in recent weeks and he has turned up his caught stealing percentage up to a tune of 44 percent.
While he continues to show he can call a good game, he has allowed five passed balls in 2019 and 16 wild pitches have been thrown while he’s behind the plate.
Vazquez has been handed the reins, or so it seems, and has been playing like it. Perhaps the unknown of not being a team’s number-one catcher had something to do with his up-and-down play in 2018.
Or maybe, just maybe, Vazquez is coming into his own and turning into the all-star catcher we’ve all been waiting for.