Considering his relative lack of experience entering the 2022 season, expectations were fairly high for Alejandro Kirk. He had shown serious potential at the plate, to go along with some decent defense and had a lot of people believing that he could be a difference-maker in the Blue Jays’ offense. However, I think there were likely very few people who thought he would be the favourite to be the starting catcher for the American League in the All-Star Game entering June. Kirk hasn’t just been good this year, he’s been great.
As the Blue Jays recently hit the 50-game mark, we’re beginning to get a larger sample size of advanced stats that could help project some players.
Looking at Kirk’s wRC+ of 146, it would be easy to assume that he’s just getting lucky, but the opposite is true. Kirk’s advanced numbers would lead you to believe that he’s one of baseball’s best hitters. Unsurprisingly, both whiff and strikeout rates are among the best in baseball, and his xwOBA is in the 92 percentile according to Baseball Savant. One area where people believed he may struggle was with producing consistent hard contact, but his average exit velocity is sitting at the 73rd percentile in baseball.
Perhaps the most shocking thing we’ve seen from Kirk this year is that he’s not only a serviceable catcher behind the plate, but he’s also very, very good. FanGraphs currently credits him with four defensive runs saved, which ranks fourth among all catchers in baseball, and Baseball Savant has him in the 91st percentile for pitch framing, which means he not only plays well himself, he’s improving the calls for his pitchers.
No matter which way you look at it, Alejandro Kirk has been outstanding in 2022, and his advanced statistics reflect that. It’s obviously hard to maintain this pace over a full season, but if he can even keep 80 percent of this pace, he’ll be one of, if not the best catcher in the American League.