That’s all we kept hearing about Jeff Mathis. He’s not here because of his bat, he’s here because of the intangibles. Because of this special quality he brings to the team.
“What is it?”
“We can’t tell you. It’s intangible.”
There has to be some reason a career .196 hitter keeps finding a job on a major league team.
He isn’t hitting his way on.
Defensively, he’s never won a Gold Glove. He doesn’t excel in any defensive metrics. His career caught stealing rate is average, 28 percent. Compare that with his contemporaries: Yadier Molina’s is 46 percent. J.T. Realmuto, 35 percent. Gary Sanchez, 34. Buster Posey, 33. The man he replaced, Robinson Chirinos has a career caught stealing rate of 24 percent. He’s a tick above a couple guys who aren’t considered good defensive catchers in Yasmani Grandal (26 percent) and Brian McCann (25 percent). Pudge’s was 46, by the way.
What’s curious is, if this guy brings so much to the table, why is he invited to sit at it so infrequently?
In the thirteen full seasons before he arrived in Texas, Jeff Mathis has caught in over half his teams’ games three times. Barely.
Ninety-four games in 2008. Eighty-four games in 2009. Ninety-three games in 2011. He mainly been the backup catcher on all four teams he’s been with.
In four of the six seasons he was with the Angels, Los Angeles’s winning percentage in games he caught was less than in games he didn’t catch. Same thing in four of his next seven seasons with Toronto, Miami, and Arizona. His team had a lower winning percentage in games he caught in than in games he didn’t.
So he is not bringing winning along with him.
And even this dramatic turnaround in Rangers pitching isn’t credited to Jeff Mathis. It’s on Chris Woodward.
After 38 games, Jeff Mathis is batting .140 with the Rangers. In a career of offensive futility, this is the futiliest. (I am allowed to make up words to describe the indescribable). His on-base percentage is .205. His OPS shouldn’t be allowed to be printed due to local obscenity laws. It’s .392. Heck, even Rougned Odor’s is .582. At the plate, Mathis makes Odor look like Trout.
The good news is, the Rangers have Mathis one more season after this one.
This team is going to be chock full of intangibles by then. It may lead the league.
Ariel Jurado (4-2, 3.02) vs. Sonny Gray (2-5, 3.65)
Game time: 12:10