Astros: Robinson Chirinos proving doubters wrong so far
Robinson Chirinos made his way down I-45 and found a new home with the Astros this past offseason. What a pleasant surprise he’s been so far in 2019.
In the wake of the saga that was J.T. Realmuto, fans and talking heads alike were drooling over the prospects of JT in an Astros jersey. It seemed to be almost a slam dunk that it would happen.
Then came Robinson Chirinos.
To say the signing of Chirinos was underwhelming is an understatement. Myself included, thought this was a bad move. The stats just weren’t there to justify passing on Realmuto. If the Astros wanted a below average defensive catcher with a bat, why not just resign Evan Gattis?
Ever since the signing, Chirinos has done everything to prove his doubters wrong. I’ll admit it, and I’ll eat that crow everyday and twice on Sunday.
Spring Training was just the beginning
Posting his best spring showing since 2014, Chirinos showcased just what he can do with the stick in the right lineup. Slashing a line of .324/.419 /.595, he was also tied for third in RBIs accompanied by the likes of Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, and Tyler White.
However, that’s what Astros fans were somewhat aware of what to expect. His defense on the other hand showed a promising spike in the positive. Posting his best rate of catching runners since, again, his 2014 season; finishing the spring with gunning down three runners in seven attempts.
That was a better clip than his other counter part Max Stassi, who only threw out four runners in 12 attempts. Semantics, I know, but its still a decent clip at what was expected.
The one stat that stood out specifically was his whopping 90 putouts in 86 innings played.
(Quick refresher, a put out is credited to a fielder when said fielder either catches a line drive, fly ball, or thrown ball that initiates an out. )
That lead the team in Spring Training. That means he initiated an out 2.8 times every inning he took the field. You can slice it any way you want. Being apart of a stellar pitching staff, being an easy position to generate outs, whatever. Who was the second person on that list? Stassi, who had only 72 put-outs in 89 innings played.
That is a vastly different involvement level.
His frame rate has improved, and that is a testament to the Astros being one of the top teams in terms of strike-outs during spring training.
Making believers out of Doubting Thomas
It didn’t stop in spring. While, yes the Astros have started out slow offensively, Chirinos is not letting that slow down his bat. In eleven official at-bats, he is putting up decent offensive numbers, slashing .273/.385 /.455 with three strikeouts compared to two walks. Small sample, sure, but something to consider nonetheless.
Maybe the strikeout-to-walk ratio will dip, but until then he is showing more patience at the plate rather than swinging for the fences like he has done in Arlington the last few years.
His defense? Still progressing upwards. In 26 innings played, he has had 35 defensive chances to produce an out and succeeded 31 times.
And other players are noticing, and challenging him.
Chirinos knows why the Rangers didn’t offer him a contract last year. He’s out for blood, and to prove the doubters wrong.
Color me massively impressed and changing my tune on this acquisition. If the production can even stay steady, Chirinos will be the best well rounded catcher the Astros have seen since 2013-2015 version of Jason Castro or 1981 Alan Ashby.