By Joshua Reese

CBS Houston – Evan Gattis behind the plate, while a scary prospect at first blush when he started his first game – after more than a year away from the position – earlier in the season. Has actually blossomed into becoming one of the team’s secret weapons.

Gattis has been back behind the plate for 22 games. In that time he’s amassed a batting average over .300 as a catcher for the Astros this year.

“I wish I could put my figure on it,” Evan Gattis said when asked why he hits better as a catcher, “I know I have seen the stats, I’ve heard that it’s kinda a big split.”

As a DH he has played in 46 games, has a .182 batting average, 6 home runs and 19 RBI’s. When catching he has a batting average of .310 to go with 9 home runs and 21 RBI’s all in only 22 games of work.

The .310 average as a catcher would put Gattis in the top three of all baseball if he had enough qualifying at-bats. A long-time rumored target of the Astros, Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy is batting .303 on the season. It’s not an exact comparison but it just shows you Gattis could make some real noise as a full-time catcher if he could keep up the production for a whole season.

But most the time Gattis is a DH and his only job is to be a hitter. While being a catcher his job is 100 percent harder; handling the pitching staff, prepping for all the opposing team’s batters, helping coordinate the defense, and yet the numbers say the harder job is actually better for Gattis offensively.

“I don’t know if it’s actually true in the numbers, it feels like it, manager A.J. Hinch said when asked if Gattis hits better catching, “in all seriousness, I think it’s the result of keeping him occupied, keeping his mind occupied, keeping him in the game, he takes it (catching) very serious.”

With Gattis catching, he is able to be engaged all game long. I am not saying he is bored just sitting in the dugout waiting for his turn to bat when DH’ing, but it’s clearly different.

Being a DH is like getting four pinch-hit at-bats a game, there are very few guys who can succeed at that. While catching, behind the plate he’s able to get a feel for the strike zone, have more of a feel of how the home plate umpire is calling the game, it’s nothing but filled with benefits.

The real question is now, with Jason Castro still not back to his 2013 all-star self, is it time for Gattis to be an everyday catcher?

Gattis has proved he can be behind the plate on an everyday basis. Earlier in the season when Castro was under the weather he caught five games in a row (two of those were extra-inning games). But since that stretch, he’s only caught and started in back to back games once.

Castro gets the nod game in and game out because he is a great defensive catcher, and while he is very good, Gattis himself is no slouch defensively.

On the basepaths, Gattis has thrown out baserunners at nearly a 50 percent clip (44%), Castro on the season throws out guys 20 percent of the time. Castro my able to block baseballs at a better rate and frame baseballs better too. But it’s not enough to keep Gattis from seeing if his .310 batting average while catching is more than just a random odd stat.

Follow JR on twitter —–> @MrJoshua


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