Phillies’ JT Realmuto dominated the rules unlike any other MLB player

When Bryce Harper grows up, he wants to be JT Realmuto.

Harper said the other day before Phyllis I played in Miami. “As a hunter as a kid and all the way to college, I wanted to be a big league player. That’s the kind of guy I wanted to be. Like him.”

None of this was new. Harper has been president of the Realmuto Admiration Society for years. He commanded the “Re-Sign JT” Brigade in 2020. But even his fan base has reached its peak. Because while Realmuto won’t win the National League MVP title from Harper (Paul Goldschmidt of St. Most Valuable Player For Velez As they approach their first postseason dock since 2011.

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And Realmuto will carry another distinction, if it really exists: It’s the king of rules.

There’s no way to fully measure it, but Realmuto dominates the rules more than any player in baseball. Cases can certainly be presented to others. Mookie Betts, for example. Or Shohi Ahtani when he shoots and hits in the same match. Perhaps Tria Turner, another Harper favorite. But consider this:

  1. During Thursday, Realmuto eliminated 27 out of 64 primary thieves, a success rate of 42.2% driving major companies. The league average is 24%.

  2. He was 17 for 17 in attempted robberies, the highest number of robberies in a season for a hunter since Russell Martin in 2008 (18) and the third by any player without being caught since Major League Baseball began tracking such items in 1951.

  3. Realmuto has advanced by more than one base on a single base, and more than two bases on a dual basis, 54% of the time. The league average is 40%.

“When we think of JT when we plan a series against the Phillies, there are a lot of different ways that it affects the game,” San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler said this week. “There aren’t a lot of players you have to think about from different angles. If any.”

Now, the factor that Realmuto is a catch — 31, to boot — has been behind the board for 97 rounds more than any other catcher this season entering the weekend. And that he recovered from a dismal start that raised some eyebrows within the sport about the start of a possible dip for the .314/.380/.604 racket with 14 wrecks in his last 58 games through Thursday. You have a player that Kapler describes as “unique”. Kyle Schwarber, another ex-hunter on the Phillies list besides Harper, calls Realmuto the “backbone” of the team.

Rank it whatever you like, but in the absence of elite talent for rule-stealing—nobody has pulled at least 50 sacks in a season since 2017—no player has a greater impact on the game in 90-foot increments.

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“I’ve always been a guy who really cares about my base intelligence,” Realmuto said. “It’s something that doesn’t necessarily come in the papers, but it wins ball games. And you can lose ball games too, if you’re not a good starting player. So, I’m very proud of that.

“And, obviously, kicking guys out is something I’ve always loved.”

Realmuto smiled devilishly at the last part, as if he was hiding a secret. Two of them, in fact. How to defy the aging curve in the most demanding baseball position. And how he controls the game with his arms and legs.

Schwarber was a catcher until the Chicago Cubs drafted him for fourth in 2014 and took him onto the field. Realmuto was fast in high school before the Miami Marlins took him in the third round in 2010 and put him behind the board.

It’s clear to Schwarber that they ended up where they belong.

“Playing against him when he was in Miami, you always got close to him being an athlete and you didn’t want to run against him,” Schwarber said. “But let’s see how well he received it, the way he could prevent it, how he controls his running game. His arm is strong. It’s a point every time.”

None of this is new. Realmuto caught primary thieves 34.9% from 2016 to 2018 with the Marlins, then led the league with 47% in 2019, his first season with the Phillies.

The trick: talented sports.

Realmuto has a strong arm. But controlling his feet and body enables him to clear the ball faster than any catcher in the league. On average, there is 1.82 seconds between hitting the field with a Realmuto glove and the ball hitting the player at second base, according to Statcast. There is no other mask better than 1.89 seconds.

He’s faster than anyone else, and you know he won’t miss you. So she almost started turning off the running game.

Gabe Kapler, Giants Manager

And Realmuto somehow gets faster with age. His “pop time” as it’s called, was 1.83 seconds last season, 1.88 seconds in 2019, and 1.9 seconds in 2018.

“It’s the point where you won’t run,” Kapler said. “With the time most shooters have at the table and the time to pop, you can’t. He’s faster than everyone else, and you know he won’t miss you. So you almost started turning off your running game.”

To keep in mind: In three matches against the Phillies earlier this month, the Giants did not attempt to steal.

Even with slow-to-play shooters, Realmuto acts as a deterrent. Take Noah Sendergaard. In 15 games with the Los Angeles Angels, the opponent was 25 to 26 in steal attempts against him; In eight starts for the Phillies, working with Realmuto, they would be 5 for 7.

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It’s just something I’ve been naturally good at since I started catching up,” Realmuto said. “I’m trying to keep going. Our promotion crew is doing a great job at giving me a chance and our midfielders, if you ask me, are some of the best in the game. But I’m definitely proud to send the guys off.”

Oh, and one more thing: During Thursday, Realmuto only allowed two passes, down 33 balls. When he’s behind the board, getting ahead on the bases against Phillies always requires getting hits.

“He’s able to keep everything in front of him,” Schwarber said. “Especially with some of the arms we have that are throwing hard, really hard fast, and the way he can keep the ones in front of him, the way he can hold off. I think the hardest pitch in baseball to stop him is change, the way he can block some of those changes. Really good.”

All you ask is a look. Not even. Really just a peek.

With two exits in the third inning on August 22 at Citizens Bank Park, Realmuto broke from first base on Nick Castellanos’ line to right field and noticed a few steps later that the first step of the ball by Jake Fraley of Cincinnati was slow. Realmuto raced around second base, picked up third base coach Dusty Wathan and never stopped, causing Jon Kroc to shout, “Oh my God,” on TV.

“Realmuto always goes from first to third, but he read [lousy] “The relay and he kept scoring easily,” said one evaluator from the National League team who was in the game. “That’s how good the main player is.”

You almost forget that Realmuto is, you know, a mask.

“We always joke with him that we got the fastest players in the league and he is second behind Stubby [backup catcher Garrett Stubbs]Schwarber said with a laugh. “But to have a guy who is able to, one, be a steal base threat, but two, who’s also a very aggressive key player and take the extra base when he can, is a good example for all of us if you can do that 90 feet.”

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Realmuto does this more often than Harper (48%), whose bold style on the rules sparks jokes among teammates that he wears an “invisible cloak” to avoid summoning.

It’s not that Realmuto is the fastest runner in the Phillies, although he is faster than most catches. He has good instincts, according to Harper, and a knack for knowing when to take risks.

Realmuto said he learned from former Marlins teammate Juan Pierre. He also credits his work to Velez coach Paco Figueroa, who oversees the team’s core performance.

“Juan Pierre was the first I saw, all he talked about was taking an extra base, being a good teammate,” Realmuto said. “Because the key is being selfless and wanting to take that extra base for the next guy. Even when doing something isn’t glamorous or isn’t scored in the box, it rewards the team when you do it well.”

It’s hard to measure basic sprinting prowess. In an effort to invoke a better base season for hunting, an NFL explorer referred to Iván Rodríguez’s 1999 MVP season, when he stole 25 bases but was caught 12 times. Rodríguez took an extra base 51% of the time.

According to the statistics developed by Fangraphs, Realmuto has the extension The best three seasons of basic running ever with a catcherthat topped this season.

I love watching him catch up. I love watching him run the rules. I just love watching them all.

Bryce Harper on Realmuto

“You can’t put a numerical value on a player like him,” Schwarber said.

Harper doesn’t need one. Start.

“He goes out and does things on both sides of the ball that no one has done in years,” Harper said. “It’s unbelievable. I mean, he really is. I love watching him grab. I love watching him turn the rules. I just love watching them all.”

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