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The End to the Astros Maldonado Era

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

Martin Maldonado has signed a contract to play with the Chicago White Sox and hopefully this can end one of the most divisive chapters in the Astros fan base during the dynasty era. To facilitate that we are going to give an honest record of the Astros Maldonado era.


Warning: If you don't want to see DATA BASED TRUTH, this article may not be for you.


The first measure of a team leader is how did they perform when he started vs. when he did not start.


I am going to keep this very simple for you all. Maldonado first came to the Astros in 2018 in a July trade. They traded for him again in 2019.


Here are the win percentages in each season since Maldy has become an Astros player.


Maldy Wins

You can see he had a negative effect in 2018 and 2019. He had a positive effect in 2020 and 2021. In 2022, the effect became worse again; and in 2023, the Astros were a startling 12 games worse with Maldonado.


In 2023, the Astros played like an 87-win team when Maldonado started and like a 99-win team when he did not start. This includes games that Salazar started. THIS is why so many of us had an issue with Maldy starting so much. It was hurting the team.


For the entire time that Maldy has been an Astros player the team has played the equivalent of four wins worse per season with him starting than they did with someone else starting. Four the six seasons, he was a net negative for the Astros team. Only in 2021 was Maldonado a significant positive.


I start here because these simple facts destroy the narrative that his agent, the press, his former manager, and the social media devotees have created for Maldonado.


If you are already having a problem with what I am saying I strongly suggest you read this before continuing.



The second measure of a catcher is how the pitchers performed when that catcher caught them vs. when someone else caught them.


Given Maldonado's legendary status, one would assume that the team would pitch FAR better to him than it does to others. If anything, the opposite is true.

Maldy Pitching

2023

The pitchers pitched to a 3.91 ERA to Maldonado in 2023 and a 4.00 ERA to non-Maldonado catchers. However, you will see over 40% of Maldonado's innings were pitched by the aces of the team - VVJ (Verlander, Valdez, and Javier.) ZERO innings were pitched by Valdez and Verlander to any Astros catcher other than Maldonado. Over Ninety percent of Javier's innings were pitched to Maldonado (mediocrely.) It is statistically impossible to know how those three pitchers would have done pitching to anyone else. This skews the 2023 data terribly.


Combined 2021-2023

Castro and Vasquez were called upon to catch all three of these pitchers in 2021-2022 and over the entire three-year period one can say this.


The entire staff pitched statistically the same or possibly better when NOT pitching to Maldonado. If you have been following this site that does not surprise, you. If you haven't, you are stunned and should realize you need to spend more time here.


If you are still not convinced and believe the pitchers "wanting to throw to Maldonado" was actually a real thing read this:


The game of baseball is both offense and defense, so the third measure of catcher is how did that catcher bats relative to the other catchers in the MLB.


Not too many people will even attempt to argue this point. Maldonado is known to be a bad hitter. Just how bad was he in 2023?


Among all batters with more than 400 PA in 2023 Maldonado:

  • was 206th out of 212 hitters in offensive WAR (-17.7)

  • was 207th out of 212 hitters in wRC+ (66)

  • was 207th out of 212 hitters in OPS (0.606)


This was not just a 2023 issue for Maldonado. Over the past three years (>1000 PA):

  • was 226nd out of 226 hitters in offensive WAR (-60.6)

  • was 226nd out of 226 hitters in wRC+ (66)

  • was 226nd out of 226 hitters in OPS (0.593)


It is NOT that Maldonado is a bad hitter. Maldonado has been a terrible league worst hitter for three seasons.


It gets worse. Since entering the league in 2011 among qualified hitters, NO ONE has a lower offensive WAR -151.1. When he was good defensively (2015-2018), one could argue the defense made up for the horrible offense. As you will see next that is no longer the case.


The last measure of a catcher is his core defense skills.


This is a metric where people continue to discuss who Maldonado USED TO BE. Maldy once was a great defensive catcher. In 2023, he was arguably THE WORST defensive catcher.


Maldy Defense

Pick whatever defensive metric you want. Maldonado was worse and generally significantly worse than Diaz, a rookie catcher.


Maldonado's framing was league worst.

Maldonado's defensive WAR was worst among catchers.

Maldonado's -10 DRS was atrocious.


If ANYONE tells you Maldonado is a good defensive catcher demand they address these truths.


Summary


If you put all of this together and Maldonado delivered -1.2 WAR in 2023. This was 210th among 212 hitters with more than 400 PA.


For 2024, both Steamer and Depth Charts projection systems model Maldonado to deliver the SECOND WORSE WAR in all of the MLB.


Why did the White Sox spend $4M on Maldonado for his age 37 season?

  • He has a great agent

  • They wanted a coach

  • There is a sucker born every minute


Maybe NOW we can all move on together and accept that there is a better future ahead of us without Maldonado on the Astros. I hope this is THE LAST thing I have to write about Martin Maldonado. I consider it my obituary to the Astros Maldonado Era.



P.S.


Folks,


No one will do what I just did - tell you the truth about the Maldonado era.

THIS is why I need your support.  Without your support, I cannot do this work.

Thank You.





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