Baltimore Orioles’ catcher Pedro Severino is hitting like he never has before. He almost certainly won’t keep this up but his whole offensive output is strange and quite fascinating.
Move over J.T. Realmuto there’s a new sheriff in the best catcher in baseball town. Ok, not really, but Baltimore Orioles Pedro Severino is currently hitting .333/.413/.568 slash line good for a 166 wRC+ making him the best offensive catcher in baseball, seriously. Severino’s entire season is fascinating in so many ways.
Consider the fact that his exit velocity is in the bottom 15% of hitters at merely 85.9 MPH. Comparatively, his xBA of .297 is the same as the Dbacks’ Ketel Marte tied for 42nd best this season. Want to make it sound even better? Severino’s .382 xwOBA is the same as budding White Sox superstar OF Luis Robert. So how has Severino unlocked the best offensive stretch of his career?
In terms of his offensive profile, one noticeable statistical difference is his 5% gain on hitting the ball up the middle. Plate discipline also has improvements as Severino is swinging two percent more than last year and has an 8% drop in out of zone contact rate. Both are marginal differences but they are small improvements that drive his biggest gain.
The key catalyst for Severino is crushing a ton of line drives. This year his LD% has increased to 35% well above the league average of 25%. This additional line drives come with a corresponding decrease in launch angle to 7.6° down from 13.2° last season.
Severino looks comfortable at the plate jumping on pitches he can drive. Consider this game winning hit or this dinger against Max Scherzer. Severino looks comfortable at the plate, probably a result of seeing regular ABs for the Orioles the past two years.
Severino probably won’t continue to hit line drives at a 35% rate, but at the moment he is and thus is the best offensive catcher in the silly season that is 2020. Maybe a contender in need of catching depth picks him up for the stretch run to see if his heater continues. The numbers say Severino has a new approach geared toward line drives. Severino has already posted the most fWAR (0.9) of any year.
Pedro Severino is only 27 years old and it seems he figured out an approach that works for him. He won’t stay the best offensive catcher in baseball, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a good one.