Can Miami Marlins C Jacob Stallings bounce back?

Jacob Stallings
Jacob Stallings / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

We were all excited when the Miami Marlins finally made a trade to improve at catcher. It seemed that The Fish were looking better with Jacob Stallings. Stallings just had a 3.0 WAR season with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021, batting .246/.335/.369 but more importantly providing them with a 2.3 dWAR. He seemed to be an elite defender who was good at getting on base, and who wasn't terrible offensively in the process. Then 2022 happened.... Stallings produced an atrocious -0.7 WAR with a .223/.292/.292 batting line. He was bad at defending (0.0 dWAR), bad at getting on base and didn't hit. Can that change?

Jacob Stallings has so far been a bust for the Miami Marlins.

Jacob Stallings has so far been pretty bad for The Fish. So bad, that his defense wasn't good enough to help an ace have his holiday recently. Stallings didn't really play a part in making that happen. So what happened to him in 2022? Why was he so bad? What changed? He walked a lot less, going from 11.5% in 2021 to 7.6% in 2022. He also struck out more, going from 19.9% in 2021 to 21.6% in 2022. His EV dropped from 88.1 in 2021 to 86.7 in 2022. Loking deeper he hit less line drives (23.1% to 19.3%), less ground balls (44.1% to 42.0%) and finally more fly balls (32.8% to 38.6%).

Why did Jacob Stallings hit more fly balls when his career home run high was 8?! It didn't help matters that his HR/FB rate was 3.9% in 2022, lower than his career rate of 7.1%. It seems that everything that could've went wrong did. He was unlucky and not hitting for power, not drawing as many walks and swinging at bad pitches more than he used to. In fact, he swung at pitches outside the strike zone 26.1% of the time (21.8% last season). He also swung inside the strike zone at a 60.6% clip (63.7% in 2021). Are there any positives? Yes...

The positives with Jacob Stallings is that after hitting .184/.244/.232 in the first half of 2022, he hit .281/.361/.381 in the second half. Can he keep this up and improve his defense in 2023? I think so.

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