With all due respect to Diamondbacks catcher Gabriel Moreno and Mets catcher Francisco Álvarez, the best defensive catcher in a promising group of rookie catchers may be Patrick Bailey of the Giants.

Bailey ranks tied for 2nd among catchers with 7 Defensive Runs Saved, one behind Moreno, despite playing in only 26 games this season. His strengths have been in throwing out basestealers (3 Runs Saved thanks to 8 caught stealing in 21 attempts) and pitch framing (2 Runs Saved).

Most Defensive Runs Saved (2023) – Catchers 

Name Team Defensive Runs Saved
Gabriel Moreno Diamondbacks 8
Patrick Bailey Giants 7
Cam Gallagher Guardians 7
Jonah Heim Rangers 6
Seby Zavala White Sox 6
Alejandro Kirk Blue Jays 6

In his 215 innings, Giants pitchers have a 3.10 ERA and 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio with Bailey catching. The Giants pitchers have combined for a 4.27 ERA and a 2.8-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio with their four other catchers in 2023.

Bailey is also hitting .318 with an .867 OPS in his first 95 plate appearances. He’s a big part of why the Giants are 25-10 in their last 35 games.

Bailey was our player guest on the most recent episode of The Sports Info Solutions Baseball Podcast on Thursday. Here are 3 things we learned from him.

1) A catcher should understand how pitches work

“Growing up you face guys [and think] this guy’s not throwing hard, but I can’t hit it.

Like, it seems invisible, right? I keep fouling it off. Well now it’s either got really good vertical [movement] or it’s in the approach angle and low release. And now you can quantify that a pitcher does this well. So our gameplan should be, alright, how do we maximize his strength?

And then do some stuff to get hitters off the strength.”

2) Positioning his body is key to framing a pitch on the corner

“[First] I’m angling my body back towards the plate. Then I go into what I would call my glove prep. So I would kind of position my glove towards the right foot to kind of give myself an angle back to the plate.

And then as I’m catching the ball, just trying to make it one fluid motion back to the zone.”

3) He feels like he belongs and that’s reflected in his hitting

“I think a lot of the hitting has come from just not having to feel pressure where, you know, [in the] minor leagues, sometimes you feel like you gotta hit your way to certain spots here.

I know defense and catching is gonna be a lot of the value I bring to a team. So kind of whatever I can do at the plate will be a bonus. And it’s been a nice bonus so far, but I’m gonna just try to keep at it.”

It’s going to be difficult for a rookie catcher to win a Gold Glove Award or Fielding Bible Award, but Bailey seems to be doing something every series to both help his team win and impress voters.

Against the Marlins, he did terrific pitch-framing work.

Against the Dodgers he threw out Mookie Betts trying to steal.

In their most recent series, he threw out Fernando Tatis Jr. trying to steal and initiated a rundown to catch Ha-Seong Kim off third base.

To listen to our interview with Bailey, check out The Sports Info Solutions Baseball Podcast, which you can find here or wherever you get your podcasts.