Chicago Cubs: A year later, Willson Contreras already one of Cubs’ most vital pieces
One year after Willson Contreras’ debut with the Chicago Cubs, nothing but production, energy and defensive prowess has followed.
On June 17 of last year, Chicago Cubs prospect Willson Contreras made his major league debut with aplomb, blasting a two-run home run on the first pitch he saw. Since then, his contributions to the team has led to a World Series title and the starting catcher role.
Fans of the team know the magnitude of Contreras’ presence. However, Chicago statistician Christopher Kamka put his career thus far into fascinating perspective:
The arbitrariness of Contreras’ call-up has made judging his production a little more difficult. After crunching the numbers to fit a full season, however, it’s clear that Contreras has not only made his mark, but has quickly become one of the most important players on the team.
The first thing that jumps off the page are those 28 home runs. With 25 of those as a catcher, that ranks 5th amongst backstops since his debut. Of the players ahead of him, Contreras has the highest batting average.
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Those RBI totals are also a great sign, especially since Contreras has been killing it lately hitting out of the cleanup spot. Since the conclusion of All-Star Weekend, Contreras is hitting .341/.383/.750 with five home runs and 15 RBI – all in the clean up spot. For his career the young backstop has accrued 10 homers and 28 RBI in 38 games batting fourth, which over a full season translates to MVP levels of production.
What the tweet doesn’t talk about is defense, and Contreras has impressed there just as much as he has offensively. Since entering the league, Contreras has thrown out 33 runners for a caught stealing percent of 33 percent, a number that would be much higher if not for Jon Lester and his problems with the running game.
His pickoffs have also been impressive (and at times vital). He leads the league in snap throws since his debut with nine, and his above-average arm strength gives him the ability to create outs on the base paths when he sees the opportunity.
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Contreras sometimes gets overshadowed by the Cubs’ other young studs. Don’t let that deter you from acknowledging his spot as one of the top young players in baseball. His energy and enthusiasm complement his style of play perfectly; he’s just a fun player to watch.
Offense, defense, it doesn’t matter. Contreras is becoming a star no matter how you look at it.