By Jason Shetler
The Pirates acquired Chris Stewart from the New York Yankees prior to the 2014 season to serve as the backup catcher to Russell Martin. Last offseason, Martin signed a mega deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, which prompted the Bucs to acquire another former Yankee backstop Francisco Cervelli to team up with Stewart. As Stewart enters his third season with the Pirates, here are his stats from 2014 and 2015, as well as a 2016 Steamer projection.
2014: .294/.362/.331, 98 OPS+, 7.8% BB rate, 17.5% K rate, 23% CS rate, 1.0 WAR in 49 games
2015: .289/.320/.340, 83 OPS+, 3.5% BB rate, 16.9% K rate, 24% CS rate, 0.6 WAR in 58 games
2016 (Steamer): .243/.296/.317, 6.1% BB rate, 17.2% K rate, 0.2 WAR in 35 games
Stewart’s 2015 season offensively was more subpar, as he posted a well below average OPS+ and a much lower walk rate compared to 2014. Behind the plate, Stewart’s caught stealing rates have been under the league average (28%) the past two seasons. He however continues to be one of the better pitch framing catchers in the game. Steamer has Stewart showing regression this season, and being replacement level.
My analysis: Last season, Stewart posted a .348 BABIP, so there’s a good chance that he will regress this year. In addition, his plate discipline got worse last year, as his chase rate was at 30.7%, which was about 8% higher compared to 2014. Steamer’s projection of Stewart being replacement level in 2016 appears realistic.