Over the past thirteen years or so, the Mets have had a revolving door of forgettable catchers, from Brian Schneider to Omir Santos to Ronny Paulino to Kelly Shoppach to Mike Nickeas. One thing that all those catchers have in common, aside from having been Mets, is that they all ranged from abysmal to mediocre in terms of their offensive abilities.
Since the departure of Mike Piazza following the 2005 season, there have been 18 instances of a catcher getting more than 200 plate appearances in a single season for the Mets. Of those 18 individual seasons, only four of them finished with a wRC+ of at least 100: 2006 Paul Lo Duca, 2010 Josh Thole, and Travis d’Arnaud in 2014 and 2015. If you raise that threshold to 300 plate appearances, Lo Duca and one of the d’Arnauds are all that remain. In that same time, there have been four catcher seasons to have a wRC+ of less than 75 in at least 200 plate appearances. In an attempt to break this feeble trend, the Mets signed a man who, since 2011, has four seasons with at least 300 plate appearances and a wRC+ of at least 110: Wilson Ramos.
Unlike most moves that the Mets make, the Wilson Ramos signing was greeting with optimism and praise from fans and media alike. The acquisition of Ramos served to replace the carousel of d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki that have occupied the spot behind the dish for most of the past six years. For reasons related to performance and injuries, that duo couldn’t be counted on to exist for another season in Flushing. That’s not to say that Ramos has avoided the injury bug in his career—because he absolutely hasn’t. Early in the 2012 season, he tore his ACL chasing down a passed ball, and a series of hamstring injuries kept him sidelined for about half of the 2013 season too. A broken hand on opening day in 2014 cut his season short again and a disappointing 2015 season followed.
While Ramos has faced multiple surgeries throughout his career, none have been more important than the lasik surgery he underwent during spring training in 2016. Coming off of the worst season of his life, a physical indicated that lasik surgery was the best option. What followed that procedure was Ramos turning into the best hitting catcher in baseball, taking home a silver slugger, and representing the National League in the All Star Game. Another unfortunate ACL tear cut his 2016 season short and bisected his 2017 season, limiting him to 64 games for the Tampa Bay Rays. The good news is that after his total recovery from the ACL tear, Ramos in 2018 was almost identical to the new and improved Ramos from 2016. After hitting .307/.354/.496 in 2016, Ramos rebounded to produce a .306/.358/.487 line in his time between the Rays and the Phillies in 2018.
Since Piazza’s aforementioned departure in 2006, no Met catcher has hit over 17 home runs, none have driven in more than 57 runs, none have slugged higher than .445, and none have had an fWAR figure of over 2.6. It’s not out of the realm of possiblility for Ramos to surpass most, if not all, of these statistics for the 2019 season, and even beyond. While his health may be slightly questionable, his performance isn’t. If the Mets are going to contend for a playoff spot this year, Wilson Ramos is going to be a big part of that chase.