Updated: Apr 28
I am about to do the unthinkable. I have a firm position that Maldy NEEDS to step aside or be pushed aside to allow the future catchers to get playing time. That case is thoroughly and some claim brutally made here:
I thought maybe someone would try to make a case for Maldy. The only things I have heard were things I already addressed and proved false.
Now, I will give the Maldonado fans the ONLY data-based argument that can be made for Maldy. THIS is what they should be arguing.
Step 1- How good does Maldy need to be at the plate to keep his job?
This may be the crux of the matter. Even as a Maldy defender now I will admit that he IS NOT the defender he has been in his early 30s. CAN he be as good defensively as last year? The projections are split on this. Because of who he is and the fact that his manager loves him let's assume yes.
Maldy has had a wRC+ of 63 since 2021. Is it fair to say he has to be at least THAT good?
Anti- Maldy Larry says NO. Maldy cannot steal playing time from Diaz and Lee and Salazar just to be as bad at the plate as he has been in 2021-2023 so far.
Ok so let's say the target has to be 75 wRC+. The career 72 wRC+ player has to hit 75 wRC+. Anti- Maldy Larry says case closed, he is at 27 wRC+ and according to recent articles he has no chance to do that. OR does he.
Step 2- What is the best case scenario for Maldy?
I wrote this in "The xwOBA Test"
If Maldonado actually matched his 2023 0.266 xwOBA the rest of this season, he would end up VERY close to his 2022 season (0.264 wOBA).
His BABIP is 0.179 so he has been terribly unlucky, and this validates the wOBA gap prediction he will get better. No one can sustain a 27 wRC+.
So, let's discuss THIS. This next statement will SHOCK you.
The Astros are 25 games into the 2023 season. Twenty-five games into the 2022 season Maldonado had these stats and where he ended the season.
2022- 25 games
So far in 2023 Maldonado has these stats.
2023- 25 games
As bad as his 2023 stats are, EVERY stat in 2023 is BETTER than it was at the same time last year. He can't stay this bad can he?
That's it. That IS your argument Maldy fans.
Let's ask when did it start getting better for Maldy last year? It was May 14th to June 15th. Maldy got hot. What followed was a roller coaster of up and down streaks. Maldy was a streaky hitter in 2022.
2022- 25 games
5/14/22 to 6/15/22
6/16/22 to 7/1/22
7/2/22 to 8/11/22
8/12/22 to 9/16/22
9/17/22 to 10/6/22
The season was a 70 WRC+ season, BUT there was no long steady wRC+ stretch.
It was a WILD roller coaster in 2022. Were injuries the issue? So, will the Maldy roller coaster ride again in 2023? Is he injured now, and the Astros aren't saying?
The argument for Maldonado says you need to give him time to get hot. Since the start is actually better than in 2022, Maldy COULD get to 75 wRC+ if he does what he did last year. IF
Before you run off thinking I am totally endorsing Maldonado as the Astros starting catcher for the rest of this season you should probably read this.
If Maldy does not put something together in the next 70-100 PA, I would still get off the ride. This feast and famine performance is NOT good for a team trying to win a championship. What if you got terrible Maldy in the postseason?