Cleveland Guardians: A world where Austin Hedges is providing some offense
While his overall numbers are still terrible, catcher Austin Hedges has actually been hitting rather decently the last month for the Cleveland Guardians.
The catcher position has been mostly a black hole of offense for the Cleveland Guardians this season, with both Austin Hedges and Bryan Lavastida struggling out of the gate and current backup Luke Maile hitting .235 in 19 plate appearances. However, during the last four weeks, Hedges has actually been hitting at a near-league average clip.
This may not seem like much, and his overall numbers are still garbage, given how Hedges is a glove-first catcher, but simply getting average or even mediocre offense could be a huge boost for the Guardians.
Hedges started the season going hitless in his first six games, reaching base just three times in his first 25 plate appearance (two walks and a HBP). But since recording that first hit, he has actually been pretty solid, or at least compared to how the league’s hitting. Batting .224/.279/.379 may seem bad, but a 94 wRC+ in that timeframe is pretty darn close to league average.
Going into Sunday’s games, the league as a whole was hitting .235/.308/.376 so far this year with a 22.6% strikeout rate. Hedges has a 22.2% K-rate in his current stretch. He isn’t walking quite as well (6.3% vs 8.7% league average) but showing more power (.155 ISO vs .141). Combine all this with Hedges being a top-five defensive catcher in all of baseball again and that’s something you not only live with but can be happy with.
Should the Cleveland Guardians still be looking for an upgrade at the position? Sure. If Austin Hedges continues to hit like this, though, is it a dire area of need? Nope. And really, that’s all you can hope for right now. At least until the prospects such as Lavistada and Bo Naylor are ready. It could allow Cleveland to potentially focus more on other areas of need this summer, such as pitching and a big outfield bat.