One glaring area that the Los Angeles Angels have struggled this season is behind the plate, and it begins with starting catcher Max Stassi.
Stassi has taken a step back in 2022 and isn’t quite the offensive player they signed to a three-year contract that runs through the 2024 season and a player option for the following year. Through 95 games this year, he’s posted an on-base plus slugging of .564 and has only mustered a wRC+ of 62, which is 43 points down from last season.
Looking ahead is all the Angels and Stassi currently do, and by his own admission, production has been at a premium, via Jeff Fletcher of the O.C. Register:
“Way below my standards,” Stassi said. “It has not been good. Horrible. My coaches, everyone, has been helping me out. I’m just the one not getting it done.”
“I’m going back to the drawing board,” Stassi said. “I’m trying to do whatever I can to be in a good place. I’m going to figure it out. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do yet.”
Although his offensive production is far below what the Angels require, the Angels and manager Phil Nevin praised his ability to handle a pitching staff.
“He’s done a phenomenal job, catching Shohei each time obviously,” Nevin said. “He really does a great job with our younger pitchers. When he’s not playing he’s engaged, helping with (Matt Thaiss). Both him and (Kurt Suzuki). They talk about the game a lot. We’re better with him behind the plate, because of how he handles our pitching staff, and how he does things when he’s not playing. I know the offense has been a struggle, but I’m proud of him for the way he goes about his business behind the plate, which to me is just as important.”
The 31-year-old has done a fine job with the Angels, but he isn’t an offense-first backstop. With top-prospect, Logan O’Hoppe, waiting in the Minor Leagues for his shot at the big league roster, Stassi will have to figure out a way to delay the inevitable.
Matt Thaiss learning from Max Stassi
Matt Thaiss spent his three years at the University of Virginia largely playing catcher. However, when the Angels drafted him in the first round of the 2016 MLB Draft, he was switched to first base, where he played 29 college games at.
From 2016-2020, Thaiss was a first baseman, working his way up the Minor League ranks until he made his MLB debut in 2019. However, after the 2020 season in which he played just six games due to the cancellation of the Minor League season, he return hoping to play catcher again.
For Thaiss, much of the credit for his success re-learning how to play catcher comes from the Angels lead man at the position, Stassi, as well as Suzuki.