MLB

Yankees Free Agent Target: Mike Zunino

 I think we can agree that the Yankees need a fresh start at the catcher position, Gary Sanchez at the beginning of his career was bearable because his bat was debatable at that time the best hitting catcher in all of baseball. But everytime Gary did something good with his bat he’d immediately mess it up with his glove. Gary is up there as one of the worst defensive catchers because of how lazy he is, he also cannot frame pitches, and doesn’t want to get in front of the ball to prevent passed balls. Over the past 2 years Gary has had a mediocre bat and horrendous defense to put it lightly so I think it’s time for the Yankees to move onto a more established catcher. Here’s a little summary before I deep dive into Mike Zunino, Zunino is a plus defender, and a plus bat that gives the Yankees someone who’ll be a solid in that everyday Yankee lineup. 

 Offensive Juggernaut 

 The 1st time All Star Catcher is a stud at the plate, and if you’re on the Rays you’re there for a purpose. Zunino is what you want out of a 2021 MLB player, someone who lifts the ball and hits the ball hard. For comparison, Aaron Judge has a 29.3% Fly ball rate, Giancarlo Stanton 24%, Joey Gallo 35.6%. Getting the ball in the air is the way to win baseball games, 6 of the 10 top teams in FB% were in the playoffs and only 1 team outside the top 12. Zunino with a minimum of 200 AB has a league leading 54% FB rate. WAR ( Wins Above Replacement ) is one of the more used advanced metrics to measure how good a player really is, and Mike Zunino ranked 3rd in WAR amongst catchers and 27th amongst the whole league. Zunino’s WAR is higher than players like Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts, Manny Machado, and Nick Castellanos. Yeah those are some household names there, Zunino will give you a lot of production from mostly one side of the plate because he’s pretty useless against righties but with the right hitting coach that can be fixed. Zunino versus lefties bat .342 with 16 HR, .419 OBP, .868 SLG%, 1.287 OPS, and a 243 wRC, yeah those are real stats. Against lefties Zunino is 143% better than league average but against righties he’s 23% below league average. So what can we conclude about Mike Zunino as a hitter? Zunino is an ELITE hitter who’ll murder the top of ball off and will lift the ball which will boat well at Yankee Stadium, a hard hitting slugger who’ll fit the modern day mold of what you should want out of an MLB player. 

Defensive Wizard

 Unlike Gary Sanchez, Mike Zunino’s defense compliments his offensive game. Zunino is one of the league’s best framers, RXS (Runs Extra Strikes) Zunino ranked 5th with 6 runs saved, 4th in the league in Strike Rate at 52%, 8th in FRM (Framing), 6th in Def rating, and 9th in DRS (Defensive Runs Saved). It finally time to move on from the guy who’s cost us games because of his defensive laziness and move to a guy who’ll be able to take balls and turn them into strikes, move to someone who’ll get down and block Aroldis Chapman’s wild spittler, someone who’ll be able to pop up and grab Chapman’s sporadic fastball. Another plus to Zunino’s game is his ability to call games behind the dish, Zunino has worked with names like Tyler Glasnow, Blake Snell, Charlie Morton, Nick Anderson and has been a contributing factor to the development of Rays pitchers. 

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