Should the Pittsburgh Pirates be getting Henry Davis more reps behind the plate?
During Wednesday night's game against the Atlanta Braves, rookie Henry Davis made yet another costly mistake in right field. Unfortunately, this has been a far too common theme for Davis since being promoted to the Pittsburgh Pirates in June.
The Braves had a runner on third base with only one out, and Austin Riley popped up to shallow right field. Davis seemingly could have caught the ball with his momentum going toward home plate, but Jared Triolo caught it while back-peddling instead.
Pirate manager Derek Shelton was asked about the play after the game, and said "“If Henry can get there, he’s got to catch that ball,”.
Well Shelton... Davis shouldn't be playing right field in the first place.
When the Pittsburgh Pirates decided to call up their no. 1 overall pick from the 2021 MLB Draft, fans were certainly thrilled.
However, Davis has hardly played his natural position at catcher in over 40 games played for the Bucs. Instead of letting Davis catch like he's done his entire career, the Pirates have hung the 23-year-old out to dry in right field.
It's time to nix the Davis right fielder idea.
It's not as if Davis has been decent in right field, either. In fact, he's been abysmal. Davis has 4 Errors in just 38 games and a .927 Fielding Percentage. Combine all of his blunders in right field together, and you get a negative Fielding Runs Above Average for Davis (-3.4). To give you an idea of just how poor a -3.4 Fielding Runs Above Average is, take a look at this example from Baseball Prospectus.
It isn't entirely fair to be harsh on Davis' horrendous right fielding though. Afterall, he isn't an outfielder.
The Pirates drafted him as their "catcher of the future", but haven't given him the chance to showcase his catching ability.
One would think that after the Pirates traded catcher Austin Hedges to the Texas Rangers at the MLB deadline, Davis would get some games under his belt behind home plate. Yet, it hasn't happened. With Hedges gone, the Pirates have three catchers on their roster (Jason Delay, Endy Rodriguez, and Davis).
Since the deadline, Rodriguez has handled the majority of the load behind the dish, and he's done a magnificent job for a young catcher. When it's his day off, the Pirates seem content on starting Delay at catcher, not Henry Davis.
The Bucs had made it clear that they promoted Davis in June for his offensive production, not his defense. “I think the reason we brought Henry to the big leagues is we think he can help us win right now, especially with his bat,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton told 93.7 The Fan last month.
The thing is, the Pirates have nothing to lose now. They're 9.0 GB in the NL Central and 7.5 GB of the NL Wildcard with under 50 games remaining in the season. Davis could be calling games at catcher right now instead of misplaying routine groundballs that are hit directly to him in the outfield.
The Pirates may have little confidence in Davis to play his natural position, but it's unlikely that he's worse at catcher than right field.
Even if he is as terrible at catching as advertised, how do they expect him to improve without game experience?