Sink or swim, Henry Davis needs to be the Pirate catcher in 2024

2024 will be a vital season for Henry Davis with the Pirates

Sep 27, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Henry Davis (32)
Sep 27, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Henry Davis (32) / Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates need to give Henry Davis every opportuntiy and then some to stick at catcher in 2024

When the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Henry Davis no. 1 overall in the 2021 MLB Draft it was with the idea of him locking down the catcher position for the long haul. While Davis was never viewed as a future Gold Glove catcher, he was always viewed as a player who would play adequate enough defense to go with potentially elite offense behind the dish.

Looking ahead to 2024, it is more important than ever that Davis clicks as the team's starting catcher. A big part of this is that the Pirates need the potentially elite bat from Davis to click this season. They also have questions at the catcher position.

This season, the Pirates need to give Davis every opportunity behind the plate. Even if there are early season lumps, they need to stick with Davis. The organization needs to figure out what they have defensively in Davis.

The idea that Davis was a slam dunk to be the long-term catcher for the Pirates would change. This was due to the development of catcher Endy Rodriguez, whom the Pirates acquired as part of the Joe Musgrove trade.

Rodriguez quickly rose prospect rankings and became one of the top catching prospects in all of baseball. This led to Rodriguez making his MLB debut in 2023, and appearing to be in a position to completely lockdown the catcher position for the Pirates in 2024.

Well, unfortunately, this changed earlier in the offseason when it was announced that Rodriguez would require Tommy John surgery. Due to this surgery, Rodriguez will now miss the entire 2024 season. This once again opens the door for Davis at catcher.

The majority of the playing time Davis had in the majors last season came in right field. He logged 417.1 innings in 49 games played in right field, while recording just 2 innings behind the dish. Both of those innings came in relief, as Davis still has yet to start a MLB game at catcher.

It is now time for Davis to emerge at catcher. If nothing else, the Pirates need to give Davis every opportunity and then some at catcher in 2024. It is time for the Pirates to find out if Davis is a major league catcher or not.

Earlier this month, the Pirates signed veteran catcher Yasmani Grandal. While he is coming off back-to-back-poor offensive seasons, from 2012-2021 Grandal was one of the best two-way catchers in baseball. Even with his poor offensive seasons he remains a strong receiver and pitch framer.

Adding Grandal gives the Pirates some cushion if things go south with Davis at catcher. If Davis can not stick at catcher, having Grandal is a much better fall back plan than Jason Delay or Ali Sánchez. Honestly, Grandal could still start at catcher for a lot of teams across baseball.

Despite his struggles at the plate last season, the bat should play for Davis. A lot of his struggles last year can be chalked up to his hand injury that landed him on the injured list for nearly a month from mid-August to mid-September. Prior to hitting the IL, Davis put together a .123/.209/.198 slash line with a 28.6% strikeout rate in his 91 plate appearances before hitting the injured list.

Davis will hit in the majors. His barrel rate, hard-hit rate, and average exit velocity in 2023 were all above league average. As long as he is hitting well, Davis will always have a job in the majors. If he can not stick at catcher that future will be as a right fielder or a designated hitter. That said, he should be given every opportunity and then some to stick at catcher in 2024.

Is Davis the team's long-term answer at catcher? The only way to find out is to throw 100+ starts at the positon at Davis in 2024. If things do not work out, right field or DH can still be in his future due to his offensvie potential. But a key cog to the potential success of the 2024 Pirates is Davis sticking behind the dish,

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