For the second year in a row, the Boston Red Sox are getting a breakout season offensively from a defensive catcher. While 2016 was Sandy Leon‘s year, 2017 belongs to Christian Vazquez. Although Vazquez has gotten a lot of credit for his offensive turnaround, he’s still being underestimated.

Christian Vazquez entered 2017 with a career batting average of .233. Due to that, his great defense wasn’t enough to win him the starting catching job. It was however good enough for the backup role.

As the 2017 season winds down, Christian Vazquez has established himself as one of the better offensive catchers in baseball though. The right-handed hitter is slashing .290/.333/.405 with 15 doubles and two triples, as well as four home runs. He’s driven in 27 runs and scored 34 more, while stealing seven bases.

Vazquez ranks third in batting average for catchers with at least 275 plate appearances. The 27-year-old’s third in steals and second in triples as well.

While Vazquez continues his great season, Sandy Leon is scuffling. Leon is slashing .228/.289/.357 and has officially lost his starting role. In fact, I for one am an advocate for Blake Swihart taking some of his at-bats from him for the rest of September.

With Leon struggling, it’s easy to notice just how few good offensive catchers there are in baseball. There are even fewer with numbers like Vazquez’s.

Despite that, Vazquez is still under appreciated. He hits near the bottom of the Boston lineup, and is rarely mentioned in conversations about offensive catchers.

While his run production isn’t great, it’s tough to produce much when you’re hitting behind struggling batters. Sure, the splits show he produces much better in the eighth and ninth spots, but he hasn’t gotten many opportunities anywhere else.

Meanwhile, his numbers with men on base (.281) show he can drive runs in if given the opportunity. Even better are his clutch numbers though. With runners in scoring position and two outs, the catcher holds a .296 average with 11 RBI.

Christian Vazquez is no longer an easy out. In fact, he’s quickly becoming one of the better hitters in Boston’s lineup, and one of the better catchers in all of baseball. It’s time he gets the credit he deserves.

Hunter Noll is a Staff Writer for Outside Pitch MLB. Follow him on Twitter

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