In his illustrious 13-year MLB tenure, Martin Maldonado has donned the jerseys of various teams, but since affiliating with the Houston Astros in 2019, the 37-year-old Puerto Rican player has showcased some of his peak offensive figures.
Despite his impressive career, Maldonado's batting average remains at .207. The 2023 season saw him achieving a slashline of .191/.258/.348 across 116 games with the Astros. Nevertheless, the veteran made a mark by hitting 15 home runs and tallying 36 RBIs, mirroring his past top performances.
The waters were stirred when Jon Heyman, a prominent MLB analyst, crafted an intriguing post highlighting the elite catchers from the top eight postseason teams. He hinted at the underlying strategy, suggesting teams to "get a stud catcher." He mentioned Maldonado, along with Yainer Diaz, as contributing to the Astros' triumphs.
As Jon Heyman opined, "Postseason catchers left: Dodgers - Smith, Arizona - Moreno, Atlanta - Murphy/d’Arnaud, Philly - Realmuto, Texas - Heim, Baltimore - Rutschman, Houston - Maldonado/Diaz, Minnesota - Jeffers. All 8 teams have above average catching situations."
Fans Dispute Heyman's Praise
However, the MLB community did not share Heyman's enthusiasm regarding Maldonado's contribution.
The Twitter sphere quickly got filled with dissenting views on Maldonado's mention. It's pivotal to note that Maldonado's resume boasts of a Gold Glove from his time with the Los Angeles Angels in 2017. But he has never graced the All-Star list.
Comparatively, many on Heyman's list, like the Orioles' Adley Rutschman, who nearly clinched the 2022 Rookie of the Year title, have outshined Maldonado. Gabriel Moreno of the Arizona Diamondbacks is another standout, having smashed multiple home runs in the MLB postseason before his 23rd birthday.
While Maldonado's defensive prowess is commendable, his offensive numbers don't scream 'elite' Having played 56 postseason matches for the Astros since 2018, he's netted a mere three home runs and maintained a .169 average in October games.
Furthermore, Maldonado's backup, the young and dynamic Dominican Yanier Diaz, has overshadowed him offensively. With 23 home runs and 60 RBIs across 104 games, Diaz has outperformed Maldonado's best seasons. Given these stats, while the Astros undeniably rank among MLB's elite, Maldonado's indispensability, as implied by Heyman, is debatable.