Next to it Jake Mintz
FOX Sports MLB writer
A lot has gone right New York Yankees in 2022.
Aaron Judge can’t be stopped. The rotation of the extension has remained remarkably healthy. Nestor Cortes is probably the world’s top 10 thrower. Clay Holmes has become the best reliever for baseball. Even Joey Gallo and Aaron Hicks start hitting.
But the most surprising development around the scorching beginning of New York (apart from Nasty Nestor) has been the rise of Jose Trevino.
Acquired from Texas on April 2, just five days before the opening day, the Yankees have become an incredibly popular and irreplaceable part of the best baseball team no one has ever seen coming.
For parts of the four Rangers seasons, Trevino was just another big league champion. He was undoubtedly a great defender, but he was a truly forgettable striker who scored 0.245 / 0.270 / 0.364 with just nine home teams on more than 519 pitches.
But two months after his Yankees tenure, the 5-foot-long Jeans has been one of the most hit players in the game. Starting to play on Sunday, Trevino finished fourth in WRC + baseball (statistics that cover the player’s comprehensive attack output and adapt to external influences), behind only the brothers Contreras (Willson and William) and Alejandro Kirk.
This is by no means what GM Brian Cashman & Co probably expected when they acted as a back-up defender for Trevino.
When Ben Rortvedt, who was procured from Minnesota by Gary Sánchez in Minnesota to stand behind Kyle Higashioka, was injured towards the end of spring training, Cashman realized he needed to improve the club’s catching depth.
On the afternoon of April 2, Cashman was required to attend a ball game at his alma mater, Department III, at Catholic University in Washington, DC, before entering the school’s sports hall.
But about an hour before the first pitch, Cashman called Catholic assistant coach Bobby Picardo and told him he had to skip the game because he “had to switch to a catcher.” And when he showed up at the banquet, Cashman realized he had forgotten his phone charger. Picardo gave it to him and Trevino was a Yankee for the evening.
At the time, the deal, in which two young throwers went to Texas, was considered an extraordinary trek. The Yankees had already telegraphed their capture strategy, trading with Sánchez in favor of the Higashioka / Rortvedt combination, clearly prepared for the offensive production in return for elite framing and consistency at the top of the field.
In comments to the media after the team’s acquisition of Trevino, manager Aaron Boone spoke at length about his defense, framing skills and how excited the club was to gain momentum with his field staff.
Few or none of these remarks had anything to do with Trevino’s insult.
Two months later, Jose Trevino has a higher OPS than Josh Donaldson.
Even though Trevino lived with the Rangers as an offensive limited catcher, he contacted him in an over-average clip. True, most of this contact was unbeatable and pointless, but many major leagues (half of them, if you want to be semantic) don’t hit the ball at too medium a speed. For Trevino, this was a solid basis to rely on.
And in the winter he started building. He made two big changes to his pace and one huge change to his off-season training program. At the plate, he opened his pre-strike position quite a bit, moving his foreleg toward the third base of the dough box. Trevino told FOX Sports that this adjustment significantly improved his ability to see the pitches from the thrower, as seen in his numbers this year, especially the 6.6% reduction in fluctuations and omissions.
Another new wrinkle is a kick. The Trevino elevator is not a Justin Turner, Jose Bautista and Rockette style activity, but it is a noticeable change. And although he won’t hit the ball harder in 2022, he will pull the ball 6% more and lift 6% more air, both potentially as a result of a kick.
In addition, instead of its typical off-season routine, which involved a lot of twisting and turning around, Trevino chose more hit detection training and quick hit exercises against the machines this winter. This work on his vision and swing decisions seems to have borne fruit, as Trevino’s swing-and-miss proof has dropped dramatically.
While the Yankees organization conducts rapid decision-making training, Trevino told FOX Sports that he agreed to this more progressive approach before he was trafficked.
Indeed, Trevino is more likely to be a 95-100 OPS + major league striker, as shown by his ball record. But for a catcher who is widely regarded as a top performer and who has played a huge role in New York’s phenomenal throwing game this season, too much production with a bat makes Trevino an incredibly valuable player.
All in all, this is an almost unthinkable increase for a man who was considered the third best catcher in the Texas Rangers 10 weeks ago.
Jake Mintz is on the louder side @CespedesBBQ and FOX Sports Baseball Writer. He is a fan of Orioles in New York and therefore lives alone most of October. If he doesn’t watch baseball, he almost certainly rides a bike. You ca
n follow him on Twitter @Jake_Mintz.
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