Chicago Cubs: Will Willson become the Beast we saw in 2017 again?

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: Powering the Cubs to the top of the Central

In 2017, Willson slashed .276/.356/.499, and slugged 21 home runs and 77 RBI in 428 at-bats over 117 games. He was, by most measures, one of the best catchers in all of baseball. Per Fangraphs, he was the fourth-highest rated catcher in the Major Leagues, at 3.3 WAR.

He trailed only Gary Sanchez (who, coincidentally, also had a terrible 2018 campaign), J.T. Realmuto and Mike Zunino. Sanchez and Realmuto also had more than 100 more plate appearances in their 2017 campaigns to prop their statistics up a bit more.  Buster Posey was ahead of Contreras in WAR, but also played a ton of first base, so I don’t really include him with the full-time catchers.

After appearing in over 20 games each month of 2017, Contreras suffered a moderate right hamstring strain immediately following his being named NL Player of the Week, and putting up an OPS over 1.000 for July and the first 9 games of August. He then returned and played 15 games in September, but did not hit a home run the rest of the regular season after hitting 21 in his first 102 games of the season.  He did hit two home runs in the 2017 postseason, but batted only .218 (7-for-32).