Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Jacob Stallings has been one of most clutch hitters in baseball this season
Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Jacob Stallings has become one of baseball’s most underrated players. He’s one of the best defensively at his position with +10 DRS, +1.9 framing runs and a 27% caught stealing rate. Stallings leads all MLB catchers in DRS and he’s tied with San Francisco Giant all-time great Buster Posey for the 6th spot in framing runs.
He a pretty solid batter for a catcher too. Through 205 plate appearances, Stallings owns a .226/.311/.387 with a .308 wOBA, and 96 wRC+. Though that is below league average production, it’s about on par with the league average catcher, which comes out to a similar .238/.313/.399 with a .311 wOBA, and an identical 97 wRC+ mark. He also leads all MLB catchers in RBI with 31.
Stallings has also been getting a bit unlucky considering his xwOBA is a .320 mark and Baseball Savant projects his expected line to be .236/.322/.405. His .263 batting average on balls in play is far off from his career .305 BAbip. Baseball Prospectus also has his DRC+ at an above-average 102 mark.
However, while Stallings can handle himself with the bat, he’s been at his best when it matters the most. In short, he’s been one of baseball’s clutchest hitters so far this year.
In high leverage situations, Stallings is batting for a tremendous .450/.542/.800 line with a .556 wOBA, and 260 wRC+. He currently ranks 6th in high leverage wRC+ (min. 15 PA), which outpaces potential MVP candidates like J.D. Martinez, Vlad Guerrero Jr., Ronald Acuna Jr., and Jose Ramirez. His wOBA also ranks 6th.
Stallings is getting a ton of base hits when he comes to the plate in these situations. His .450 batting average is tied with Seattle third baseman Kyle Seager for 10th place. However, many of those hits have gone for extra bases. Stallings’ .350 isolated slugging percentage ranks 23rd, tied with Dansby Swanson and ahead of sluggers like Freddie Freeman, Jesus Aguliar, Jared Walsh, and Nelson Cruz. His .800 slugging percentage comes in at number 12 which outdoes Guerrero Jr., Carlos Santana, and Gary Sanchez. Overall, 4 of his 9 hits in high leverage situations are doubles.
Although when he steps to the plate with runners in scoring position, he’s not nearly as productive, he’s still been a good hitter. He currently has a .250/.373/.446 line with RISP, coming out to a .360 wOBA, and 130 wRC+. Though pitchers don’t seem to like to pitch to Stallings when he has an opportunity to drive in a runner. He has a strong 16.4% walk rate with RISP. Plus when he does get a hit, it’s been for extra bases half of the time. Among his 14 hits, 5 are doubles and two more are home runs.
According to FanGraphs clutch index, Stallings has been the second-best clutch hitter among all batters with at least 200 plate appearances this season. His 1.43 clutch is only outdone by Milwaukee Brewers infielder Willy Adames and the aforementioned Kyle Seager. He’s also just one of eight batters with a clutch index of 1 or higher.
Stallings has become one of baseball’s most underrated players. He’s one of the best when it comes to defense behind the dish, he isn’t a bad hitter for his position, and he’s been one of the sport’s best when it comes to high leverage situations.