The San Francisco Giants continue to roll as they became the first team to eclipse the 70 win mark this season by taking a tough series 2-1 in Milwaukee. Thus concluding a stretch where the Giants won two series’ against the Dodgers, one series against the Astros, a four game series against the Diamondbacks…and lost a series to the Pirates, but we don’t have to talk about that.
While he may not be the leader in any statistical category, Curt Casali has been an underrated contributor to the San Francisco Giants. More specifically, he seems to receive an unnecessary amount of criticism for someone who has been perfectly competent in his role.
Although Casali got off to a slow start and his traditional stats do not reflect how adequate of a performer he is, Casali has really started to settle into his role backing up Buster Posey.
Last season, Casali posted a 130 wRC+ over 31 games for the Cincinnati Reds, thus earning him a one-year $1.5 million contract with the Giants. Surprisingly, this is only Casali’s fourth season of playing 50 or more games in a season. Despite seemingly like a career back up, Casali seems to be more of a late bloomer than a journeyman.
Obviously, the term late bloomer usually applies to a player that becomes an every day regular, but in the case of Curt Casali it seems as though he has only received his first legitimate shot in a stable role in his time with the Reds.
Speaking of former Reds organizational catchers, this season many fans have been calling for the DFA of Casali in favor of Chadwick Tromp. In 2020, Tromp endeared himself to fans with his raw power and fun name. However, the statistics do not support Tromp’s favorability.
Tromp did have his moments in 2020, but overall he only posted a 65 wRC+ paired with a .213/.219/.426 slash line. He only drew one walk last season and a 1.6% walk rate is not a typical characteristic of a Farhan Zaidi offensive player.
On the other hand, Tromp was quite strong defensively posting a 1.2 FRM. This season Casali has posted a -0.1 FRM in 359 innings, which is only slightly below league average. However, per Baseball Savant’s pitch framing metrics, Casali ranks in the 66th percentile which is above league average. Compare that to Chadwich Tromp’s 2020 67th percentile ranking over half the amount of innings behind the plate and it’s easy to see that this is a pretty fair trade off.
In comparison to Tromp, Casali’s offensive game has been far better. So far this season Casali has posted a 99 wRC+ .225/.329/.408 slash line which paired with his overall defense has made him good for 0.7 fWAR. Which is kind of the point of the article.
In terms of production from a back up catcher-who is essentially supposed to be a replacement level player- Casali has exceeded the more realistic expectation of what a backup catcher should bring to the team.
Giants fans can be very dramatic and their calls for the release of Curt Casali are essentially unfounded. Not only is he doing what he was brought to San Francisco to do, but he has been relatively consistent despite his aesthetically unappealing batting average. What more could you want out of a back up catcher? He fields the position fine and he hits some.
Obviously, Buster Posey’s resurgence has cast a long shadow over what Casali has done in 2021. However, the San Francisco Giants are all about avoiding negative value players and Curt Casali is another in a long line of smart signings by the Giants’ front office.