2020 Pirate breakout player – Jacob Stallings
For some reason, many fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates fail to realize how good Jacob Stallings was in 2019. While his .262/.325/.382 slash line and 82 wRC+ are nothing to write home about, they are not terrible for a catcher, either.
But where Stallings shined in 2019 was behind the dish. He was responsible for a +14 DRS and he was responsible for 6.0 framing runs saved. Additionally, 50.5% of the pitches he received went for strikes, which is a huge testament to his pitch framing. In fact, according to Baseball Savant, he ranked 16th in the MLB in pitch framing. His defense is why he was worth 1.3 fWAR in just 79 games played, this comes out to being a 3 WAR catcher over the course of a full season.
Stallings is primed for a big season in 2020. His defense will only continue to improve, and there is reason to believe his offense will improve. His 35.8% hard contact rate and 89.2 MPH average exit velocity in 2019 were both better than league average. If he does this again in 2020, his offensive output will improve.
Fans may not respect Stallings now, but when the 2020 season ends he will be viewed as one of the best catchers in the National League.