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Examining Jose Trevino’s impact behind the plate for the 2022 Yankees

The Yankees’ catcher has been one of the best defensive players at his position in MLB.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees have gotten some great production from most of the expected sources this season. Aaron Judge has been outstanding, Anthony Rizzo’s power has returned, DJ LeMahieu has been good, and even Gleyber Torres had a solid first half. Jose Trevino, however, has provided an incredible return on investment because he has been, with a 3.7 fWAR, a highly unexpected source of production.

It’s hard to put Trevino’s considerable contributions to the 2022 Yankees in numbers. Some of them have to do with offering a truly competitive hitter and defender at the catcher position, something that hadn’t happened in a while, while others are more related to his clubhouse presence and his leadership skills.

Numbers, however, help us get an idea about Trevino’s huge impact on the 2022 team, and how he has given the Yankees a true defensive asset behind the plate.

‘Trevi’ has been an above-average hitter with a 108 wRC+ before Thursday’s game. That fact alone has been extremely important to the Yanks, as he is not a hole in the lineup. His defense, however, has been nothing short of special and deserves a lot of praise.

For starters, Trevino has +23.9 Defensive Runs per FanGraphs. Defense (Def) “is the combination of two important factors of defensive performance: value relative to positional average (fielding runs) and positional value relative to other positions (positional adjustment),” per FanGraphs. Those 23.9 Defensive Runs lead the league among catchers with at least 600 innings.

Of course, the Yankees needed a good framer, and with the offseason trade that netted them Trevino, they got the best. With 15.4 Framing Runs, he also paces the league, again among catchers with at least 600 innings. Statcast also has him in the 100th percentile in framing, so his skills to steal strikes are no fluke.

Other defensive metrics love what Trevino does behind the plate. He has 17 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), and nobody has more than him. Seattle Mariners’ Cal Raleigh, with 10, is second in MLB. He also leads Major League Baseball with 17.1 Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAA), which is Baseball Prospectus’ go-to defensive metric.

People don’t run on Trevino often, but among catchers with 600 frames, he is seventh in MLB gunning down would-be basestealers, with 12. Only 21 have been successful, though. He has achieved all of this while doing a fantastic job at calling games and communicating with pitchers, things that are hard to measure.

Our own Jeff Middleton recently wrote that Trevino may have leapfrogged Kyle Higashioka as Gerrit Cole’s most effective partner behind the plate. With Cole, at least, Trevino has developed a good rapport by prioritizing his fastball and encouraging the ace to throw it pretty much everywhere to hitters on both sides of the plate.

Trevino is smart behind the plate: he knows his pitchers’ strengths and works from there, and isn’t afraid to work a particular portion of the strike zone. Evidently, pitchers like to work with him behind the plate.

Overall, it’s fair to say the Yankees improved considerably behind the plate this season, in all facets of the game, thanks to Trevino: he has been a clear upgrade in both hitting and defense, with everything that comes with it: pitch-calling, communication skills, throwing arm, framing, and others. He has been, without exaggeration, a top-five player for the 2022 Yanks, all for the cost of an inconsistent reliever that they eventually got back.