Kevin Plawecki closed 2017 with a flourish after returning from injury on August 19, slashing .303/.411./474 over 90 plate appearances, for a 138 wRC+. Even more encouraging was the 27.0% line drive rate the notorious ground ball hitter sported over that period, as he seemed intent on adding more loft to his swing. However, the catcher wasn’t able to take advantage of a great opportunity in 2018 to establish himself as a clear everyday option, flashing some useful tools, but ultimately having another nondescript season.
When Travis d’Arnaud went on the disabled list on April 11 for a partially-torn UCL that would sideline him for the 2018 season, it seemed as if that would open the door for Plawecki to take over as the Mets’ everyday catcher. Unfortunately for Plawecki, on the very day d’Arnaud went on the DL, he was plunked on the left hand by the Marlins’ Tayron Guerrero, breaking a bone which sidelined him until May 28. By that time, Devin Mesoraco had been acquired for Matt Harvey, putting Plawecki back in a timeshare that would vascillate between the two when healthy through the remainder of the season.
In 277 plate appearances over 79 games in 2018, Plawecki slashed .210/.315/.370, which translated to an improved .160 ISO. While his 10.1% BB% was solid (and his OBP further buoyed by 9 HBPs), more troubling is his continued above-average groundball rate (47.7%). While the catcher has reduced his GB/FB rate (from 2.04 in 2016 to 1.78 in 2017 to 1.26 last season), this mostly came from a reduction in his line drive percentage, which sank to a measly 14.4%. Plawecki also hit into 12 double plays over those 277 plate appearances.
On the defensive side—often thought to be Plawecki’s strength—advanced catching metrics painted him as below-average last year. Plawecki’s framing numbers declined precipitously, though his blocking did rated out as excellent. Overall, Plawecki rated -2.1 Fielding Runs Above Average per Baseball Prospectus, ranking 90th out of 117 qualifying catchers.
One fears Plawecki is who we thought he was—a decent backup catching option with a good batting eye and some adequate-to-solid receiving skills. Albeit a backup who may get another everyday opportunity, depending on how the Mets decide to apportion what it is usually safe to assume will be a limited offseason spending allotment.