Braves: Improvements behind the plate have been eye-popping so far

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Before the season, I talked profusely about catcher being an area where the Braves would be significantly better this season. Having a healthy Travis d’Arnaud back was the primary reason for that, but I also noted the depth the Braves added, which was a huge problem for the team last season. I loved the addition of Manny PiƱa; unfortunately, he was lost for the year following wrist surgery a couple of months ago. This time, the Braves had a back up plan in the form of William Contreras, who has broken out to start 2022.

d’Arnaud has been on fire with the stick of late. Over the Braves 14-game win streak, he hit .321 with four homers and an OPS of 1.192. On the season, he ranks fifth among catchers in WAR with 1.6, thanks in large part to his elite defense behind the plate. d’Arnaud deserves legitimate All-Star consideration, but he might end up being left off because his teammate is stealing some of his playing time.

After taking his lumps last season, William Contreras has proven that not only does he belong in the majors, but he deserves to start. It’s a good problem for the Braves to have, especially considering how hot it gets in Atlanta during the summer months. Contreras has only played in 30 games this season, but he’s already accumulated 1.3 fWAR., which ranks him 11th among all catchers. That’s incredible, but it make sense when looking at his slash line of .284/.360/.627/.987. Who knows if it’s sustainable, but right now, the two Contreras brothers look like the best offensive backstops in the game.

At this point, I don’t think it’s ridiculous to say the Braves have the best catching situation in the majors. In fact, I think a lot of people would agree, which is insane when considering how poor Atlanta was behind the plate last season. d’Arnaud didn’t play for most of last season, and when he was healthy, he was a shell of the player he’s been this year. And don’t even get me started with the guys who filled in for him. Alex Jackson and Kevan Smith were horrid, and while I liked Stephen Vogt, he was nothing to write home about either. The Braves have improved in a lot of areas this year — not too shabby for a team coming off of a World Series title — but none more so than behind the plate.

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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