Adley Rutschman Is Already the Best Catcher in Baseball

Pittsburgh Pirates v Baltimore Orioles
Pittsburgh Pirates v Baltimore Orioles / G Fiume/GettyImages

Adley Rutschman was always going to be an excellent player but I'm not sure anyone believed he'd be this good this fast. After only 70 big league games, the Baltimore Orioles rookie is already MLB's best catcher.

Rutschman was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft after a storied career at Oregon State. He was named College World Series Most Outstanding Player in 2018 after leading the Beavers to a national title, then won the Golden Spikes Award and Dick Howser Award in 2019. He was the unquestioned top player in his draft class and the Orioles didn't miss, taking him with the top pick and handing the switch-hitter an $8.1 million signing bonus. That deal is more than paying off now.

Rutschman made his debut on May 21 and since that time has been one of baseball's best players. In those 70 games, he's hitting .248 with a .360 on-base percentage, is slugging .438, and has seven home runs, 23 RBIs and 40 walks against 51 strikeouts. He boasts a wRC+ of 129, and a 3.0 fWAR. That fWAR is now even with Julio Rodriguez, despite playing 32 fewer games than the Seattle Mariners outfielder.

Perhaps most impressive is Rutschman's defense. He has currently racked up 10 defensive runs saved, which ranks second among major league catchers. The thing is, he has only played 472.1 innings behind the plate, whereas first place Jose Trevino (16) has been behind the dish for 610.2 innings.

Not only is he phenomenal behind the plate, but he's getting better in the batter's box as the season goes along. Since the All-Star break, Rutschman is slashing .300/.458/.475 (.933 OPS). Yes, you read that right, his on-base percentage is .458. A rookie catcher is getting on base nearly 46 percent of the times he steps to the plate. That is wild. His on-base percentage since the break is second only to Aaron Judge (.500) in all of baseball, and is tied with Juan Soto. Rutschman's knowledge of the strike zone is impeccable, leading to a ton of walks. Since the break he was 23 walks against 17 strikeouts.

Rodriguez has long been tagged as a lock for American League Rookie of the Year. He's having a fantastic season. But there's almost no questioning that Rutschman has surpassed him despite playing fewer games. It's hard to argue against the Orioles' star getting the nod.

Not only is Rutschman on pace to be the AL Rookie of the Year, he's also already the best catcher in baseball.