2018 Pinstripe Preview: Austin Romine

Austin Romine will enter the 2018 season as the Yankees primary backup at the catcher position. It will be the seventh season of his major league career and his third in a row as the Yankees’ primary backup catcher. With no clearly better options to push him within the system, Austin’s spot on the roster seems very secure heading into the spring and I wouldn’t expect that to change. With a weak bat, strong defensive skills and a salary of just over a million dollars, Romine is basically the quintessential backup catcher. 

Credit: Fanragsports.com

2017 Review

Romine was the Yankees’ primary backup catcher last season, although he played in a few more games than your average backup due to the Gary Sanchez injury early in the season. He appeared in 80 games and batted .218 with two home runs and 21 RBI in 252 plate appearances. That’s pretty consistent with what Romine is as a hitter, and we should not expect that to change dramatically any time soon. 

Romine provides the most value behind the plate, committing just one error for the 2017 season while posting a .998 fielding percentage. He is rock solid defensively and that is exactly what you need in backup catcher. He has also proven somewhat flexible as a fielder, appearing in 12 games at first last season and not committing an error in 53.1 innings. Having a bench player who can be a solid backup at two different positions is a huge boost to any team, especially a team that is filled with growing young talent like the Yankees are. 

It is also worth noting that Romine stood up to Miguel Cabrera and incited one of the craziest brawls in recent baseball memory.

2018 Preview

With Gary Sanchez firmly entrenched as the starting catcher on this Yankee team, Romine will yet again be the primary backup this season. He will likely only appear in around 60 to 70 games or so barring injury. With a career batting average of .220 and only seven career home runs, we should not expect more than a batting average around that number and a few home runs. 

The backup catcher’s role is to play good defense while the starter takes a break every so often. Romine fills this role well and seems to work well with the pitching staff and in the clubhouse. As long as he continues to play good defense, his spot on the roster should be secure going forward. Triple-A catchers Erik Kratz and Kyle Higashioka will likely make sporatic appearances on the roster as depth players, but it is unlikely that either will challenge Romine for significant playing time. The Yankees still have a few questions to answer as we head into spring training but with Romine holding down his spot, backup catcher is not one of them.   

Article by Matt Graziano 


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