Number Three – Catcher Endy Rodriguez
Pre-season ranking: #10
Endy Rodriguez has done nothing but hit since arriving at the Pittsburgh Pirates. After being traded from the New York Mets in the three-team deal that sent Joe Musgrove to the San Diego Padres, Rodriguez has posted an unbelievable .949 OPS, .423 wOBA, and 155 wRC+. Those are MVP numbers. He did great in 2021 but did even better in 2022.
On the season, Rodriguez slashed .323/.407/.590 with 25 dingers in 531 plate appearances. With an 11.3% walk rate and 19% K-rate, it was the fourth season in a row Rodriguez posted a sub-20% strikeout rate and 10%+ walk rate. He also had a fantastic .266 isolated slugging percentage. Between his ability to reach base, hit for contact, and hit for power, Rodriguez finished off the year with a .434 wOBA and 166 wRC+.
Believe it or not, but those numbers lowball Rodriguez. From May through the end of the season, Rodriguez batted .339/.429/.632 with a .458 wOBA and 182 wRC+. After the All-Star Break, Rodriguez slashed .392/.470/.758 with a .516 wOBA and 222 wRC+. When Barry Bonds set the single-season home run record, he had a 235 wRC+, meaning the difference between Bonds in ’01 and Rodriguez in the second half of this year was just a 13% difference.
Rodriguez has displayed a sound glove behind the dish. He doesn’t have the strongest arm, but it’s good enough for a catcher. Rodriguez is also quite versatile. He can play corner outfield, first base and even saw time at second base this season. But he is a catcher by trade, so that is likely the position you’ll see him at the most.
The only real knock on Rodriguez is that he does not have a ton of raw power. But he has put up an ISO of .230 throughout his minor league career and over .260 this past season. Even if he’s never a 30 home run hitter, he averages nearly 41 doubles and 21 home runs a season (600 plate appearance average). 35-40 doubles and 15-20 home runs from your catcher is more than enough power to suffice.
Rodriguez reached Triple-A last year and put up a 208 wRC+ in 23 plate appearances. At this point, he’s banging on the major league doorstep. It honestly wouldn’t be a major surprise if Rodriguez started the season out with the major league team. Even if he doesn’t, he’ll likely be the team’s starting backstop by mid-May at the latest.