This is another installment in our series grading the individual performances of the key members of the 2019 Minnesota Twins. Each player will receive a classic grade on the scale of A through F, based on their hitting, fielding, and whatever else the author wants to consider. Check out our other previous installments in the related section below. Today, I’ll be reviewing Mitch Garver’s season.
Entering the 2019 season, Mitch Garver was viewed as an offensive-minded backup catcher to Jason Castro. Now that the season has ended, Mitch Garver is a silver slugger winner and the clear starter for the Twins. Garver became one of the most improved Twins and one of the best catchers in baseball after a spectacular season.
Garver hit for a .273/.365/.630 (.995) line with 31 home runs and a 155 wRC+. He was robbed of an All Star selection, but later was rewarded with his first Silver Slugger award. He was the best catcher in the AL from start to finish. Here are his rankings among AL catchers:
- 1st in WAR (3.9)
- 4th in AVG (.273)
- 1st in OBP (.365)
- 1st in SLG (.630)
- 1st in wRC+ (155)
- 2nd in home runs (31)
His hitting improvements have a lot to do with his jump in quality of contact. He finished in the top 4% of the league in hard hit% at 50% and barrel% (the perfect combo of exit velocity and launch angle) at 15.5%. This graphic shows him at the top of all the contact areas, and in the middle defensively which I will get to later.
His fielding improved quite a bit from his 2018 season. During the off season he made it a priority to improve in that area and he went from being one of the worst defensive catchers to becoming league average. He improved his runs saved from framing from -9 in 2018 to -3 in 2019. He also raised his overall strike rate by 6%. Both of those stats played a role in getting his catcher ERA down from 4.60 to 3.89 in one season.
Mitch Garver literally had one of the best slugging seasons from a catcher since 1961. His .630 slugging% was 5th in that period and his .995 OPS was 9th. He also finished with the 33rd most home runs despite everyone else in the top 120 playing at least 100 games (Garver played 93). His overall game improved dramatically and he will be exciting to watch for years to come.
Overall grade: A
What grade would you give Mitch Garver’s 2019 season?
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