Jason Delay's 2023 season with the Pittsburgh Pirates may have solidified him as a solid MLB backup catcher
When spring training began last February it was unclear what role, if any, Jason Delay would play with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2023. To Delay's credit, he cracked the team's Opening Day roster which was the start of an underrated season for him.
Marking the first time in his career that Delay made an Opening Day MLB roster, he spent the entire 2023 season on the Pirate active roster. This came after multiple previous designations for assignments by the Pirates.
Delay set a new career high in gmaes played with 70 and plate appearances with 187. He hit for a .251/.319/.347, all of which were career highs, to go with a career best 82 wRC+, .096 isolated slugging (ISO), and 83 OPS+.
With top catching prospects Endy Rodriguez and Henry Davis reaching the majors last season, many Pirate fans kept waiting for Delay to be raplaced. To Delay's credit, this never happened. Now, he may have a role with the Bucs in 2024.
When the 2024 season begins, Rodriguez will be the starting catcher for the Pirates. But with Davis set to man right field, this leaves a hole at backup catcher. This is a hole that could be easily filled by Delay.
When it comes to a MLB team and their backup catcher few things are more important than the player's defense. Catcher, along with center field and shortstop, is one of the few spots on the diamond where defense may be more important than offense.
Delay had a +9.5 defensive WAR this past season. In addition to being ap lus pitch framer, Delay hada +2 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). Delay also rated out psoitively as a pitch blocker, and in Outs Above Average (OAA).
Looking ahead to 2024 it would not be a surprise to see Delay start the season as teh backup at catcher behind Rodriguez. 2024 could be the second consecutive full MLB season for Delay.