Chicago Cubs: Victor Caratini
There’s no denying that Willson Contreras was overworked in the second half. We could just as easily put him in this spot. But it’s going to be Victor Caratini that steps up his game this year. You may feel Joe Maddon didn’t catch him enough. But Caratini’s results at the plate made that an easier choice for Maddon than we’d all like. This was a kid that hit at all levels and just needed to refine his catching. Well, that stopped at the Major League level, and his catching skills still need work.
The pressure is on Contreras to return to his pre-All-Star break form. But better contributions from Caratini will make that easier for him to accomplish. Caratini was a .290 hitter in the Cubs’ system. His best year in Chicago? Just a .254 in limited appearances in 2017. Woof.
His fielding isn’t terrible, as he’s solid behind the plate. But his frame rate could use some work, and his caught stealing percentage is on par with league minimum. But that’s also because the league isn’t much of a running league, anymore. Regardless, Caratini will need more production behind the plate when he fills in for Contreras–or he might not be the backup much longer.