Willson Contreras ranked near the bottom of the league in pitch framing just one year ago, but now the statistics show he’s the best defensive catcher in the league. According Baseball Prospectus, Contreras is the cream of the crop among his peers in catcher defensive adjustment and called strikes above average, among others.
We previously highlighted the improvements in his low-pitch framing, and the difference in called-strike probability on low pitches from 2019 to this season is stark. That improvement has led to Contreras saving his pitchers two runs over what an average framer would have done.
These impressive results aren’t just a fluke, they’re the product of very deliberate work throughout the offseason and shutdown.
“[Willson] is consistently taking his glove from the target to the ground, and then allows himself to work up to the ball,” Cubs catching guru coach told The Athletic back in July.
The noticeable defensive improvements couldn’t have come at a better time since Contreras has produced 11% fewer scaled runs than an average MLB hitter. But consider the possibility that his stellar framing continues and he breaks out of his offensive slump. It’s now well within the realm of possibility that he could become MLB’s best overall.