Willson Contreras had the worst defensive stretch of his career, so it can only go up from here.
I will start with the benching from catching back in May where he was reportedly calling pitches that some pitchers did not have. No party involved has confirmed or denied these allegations, but if it truly was true, that was the low point. It cannot not get worse than that, can it? I hope not at least as a fan of the Redbirds myself.
By the numbers, he is in the midst of his worst season by far in terms of defensive runs saved, too. It is time to cut him some slack though. Throughout his career, he has been very close to league average. Here is snapshot of his past five seasons, including this year:
2023: -6 DRS
2022: -1 DRS
2021: +8 DRS
2020: +1 DRS
2019: -1 DRS
Whatever spilled into his coffee in 2021 could come around sooner rather than later, and I truly think he will adjust back towards being league average where has shown to be in years past. If he does that, will he be worth it?
Another aspect of catching is helping pitchers out by framing pitches and luring umpires into giving your team strikes. This season he has -5.6 FRM (Framing Runs Above Average). Although below average, this is in alignment historically through his career, too. Did anyone expect anything different here?
I cannot say Willson Contreras is going to become Yadier Molina by any stretch of the imagination if he goes down to work with him or they lay out a specific plan to improve his pitch-calling abilities, but I do think that he will improve towards league average as expected. It will never be as egregious as it looked earlier in 2023.
In regard to the St. Louis Cardinals and Willson Contreras reigniting the flame they must communicate expectations and commit to a vision moving forward, he has to continue to hit as expected, and his worst defensive issues must be a thing of the past. I want it to work, but time will tell.