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The season that was: Luke Maile

A look at Luke’s 2018 season

Kansas City Royals v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

I think it is far to assume that you will remember Luke Maile had an historically terrible 2017 with the bat. Matt had a bit of fun checking where he sat among worst seasons for batters.

I wasn’t thrilled that Luke started the season as our backup catcher, considering had bad he had been. But he had to be better, right? PECOTA and ZIPS thought so: PECOTA predicted he’d hit .216/.274/.333 in 187 PA. ZiPS figured a .208/.257/.319 line.

Considering he hit .146/.176/.231 in 2017, those numbers looked optimistic. It turned out they weren’t:

Standard Batting
68 202 22 50 13 1 3 27 2 0 25 67 .248 .333 .366 .700 95 4
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 11/19/2018.

Baseball Reference has him at a 1.0 WAR. FanGraphs at a 1.2 WAR giving Luke a value of $9.8 million to the Blue Jays.

He had a .310 wOBA (up from .178) and a 95 wRC+ (up from 1).

Compared to 2017 Luke walked a lot more (10.8%, from 2.2), and stuck out more (29.0%, from 25.7).

His line drive rate was up (19.7%, from 9.5), ground ball rate down (46.0%, from 50.5) and fly ball rate down (34.3%, from 40.0). More of his fly ball left the park (6.4%, from 5.3).

His hard contact was up (34.3%, from 21.9), soft contact down (17.5%, from 22.9).

Not surprisingly Luke’s BABIP was way up (.351, from .181). I’m not sure the .351 all that substainable, but neither was the .181.

He hit LHP (.259/.339/.481) much better than RHP (.243/.331/.324).

Luke hit better at home (.273/.351/.414) than on the road (.223/.317/.320). These things always make me wonder how the home LHP split would look.

He was very good with RISP, .294/.415/.353.

He was better in the second half (.284/.360/.373) than the first (.230/.321/.363).

Luke by month:

  • April: ..351/.415/.459 with 0 home runs in 10 games.
  • May: .189/.283/.358 with 2 home runs in 18 games.
  • June: .200/.333/.367 with 1 home run in 12 games.
  • July: .211/.250/.237 with 0 home runs in 12 games.
  • August: .222/.323/.296 with 0 home runs in 8 games.
  • September: .412/500/.588 with 0 home runs in 8 games.

As always, start the season strong, first impressions are tough to shake. He didn’t play a lot in September with Jansen and McGuire on the team.

Defensively? Maile was 5th in baseball at 8.5 runs better than the average catcher at framing. That was a big improvement from last year (0.4).

He threw out 30% of base stealers, slightly better than league average (28%).

He made 6 errors, 3 throwing, 3 fielding.

There were 4 passed balls and 25 wild pitches with him behind the plate. Last year it was 4 passed balls and just 6 wild pitches (in 60% of the innings). I don’t know why there would be so many more wild pitches.

He was one of the very few Jays who was better than average on the bases. He was 0.3 runs better than the average baserunner.

His longest hitting streak was 7 games.

The Jays were 22-36 in games he started.

In games he started Maile hit:

  • 6th: 2 games.
  • 7th: 6 games.
  • 8th: 37 games.
  • 9th: 13 games.

Luke had a good season. After last year I didn’t think it could happen. I honestly didn’t think he would end the season on the teams roster.

I guess the question is will he be on the roster at the start of next season?

I think the Jays would like to trade off Martin Russell and if they do they could use a veteran to help mentor Danny Jansen. Of course, getting MLB playing time for Reese McGuire could be a good thing.

But, if Russell is moved we’d be a little short of major league ready catchers. I think it would be good to start the season with Maile and Jansen (well the other way around) manning the catcher position with Reese in Buffalo ready to come up if needed.

It is easier to like Maile when his OPS is better than .407.

One of the few fun moments we had this year was when Minor Leaguer put on a campaign to get Maile voted into the All-Star game (and it was a quick way to find out how many people have no sense of humor).

I’ve grown to like Maile, he seems like a good guy. He’s 27 and now he has the backup catcher union card, he’ll likely have a long career.