Max Stassi’s emergence as one of the league’s top offensive catchers led to the Los Angeles Angels signing him to a three-year, $17.5 million contract extension two weeks before Opening Day.
Stassi posted a .784 on-base plus slugging from 2020-21, but has seen his production drop this season. He put up a .628 OPS with seven doubles and five home runs in 58 games during the first half.
However, Stassi has looked more like his old self since the All-Star break. He enters play Thursday sporting a .705 OPS with three doubles, one triple and two home runs in 17 games during the second half.
Stassi credited his recent success at the plate to the work he’s been doing with Angels hitting coach Jeremy Reed and assistant hitting coach John Mallee, per Jeff Fletcher of the Southern California News Group:
“I would say I’m just making a conscious effort to stay on plane more out in front, instead of kind of losing my barrel behind me,” Stassi said. “If you look at all the damage that’s done, it’s in front of the plate. And if you’re not on plane out in front, you really don’t have a chance to really drive balls. It’s going to be pull-side ground balls or flares to right. I’ve been doing a lot of work with the hitting coaches. They’ve been great.”
The hot streak has improved Stassi’s OPS to .647 on the year, which is close to the MLB average for catchers (.666). In 75 overall games this season, he is batting .211/.301/.346 with 10 doubles, seven home runs and 24 RBI across 279 plate appearances.
While Stassi hasn’t been able to replicate his offensive success from the past two seasons, he continues to grade out as one of the league’s top pitch framers. He is currently 12th among 45 catchers who handled 1,000 pitches called by the umpire this season.
Lorenzen hoping to return to Angels this season
Michael Lorenzen hasn’t thrown a pitch for the Angels since a July 1 start against the Houston Astros due to a shoulder injury, but is hoping to return to the mound in early September.