Baltimore Orioles Catcher Caleb Joseph Can Outsmart You

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 6: Giancarlo Stanton
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 6: Giancarlo Stanton /

The Baltimore Orioles won their series in New York with some timely hitting, but it was several outstanding defensive plays who helped them stay in the games.

The Baltimore Orioles return home with three victories in New York against the Yankees, including two of the extra-inning variety.

Friday’s affair was a classic game, that despite few runs scored until the Pedro Alvarez‘ grand slam, had enough twists and turns for a short novel, or novel to be written.

Sunday’s game, while not quite as dramatic and not as long, also featured its fair share of excellent plays to prevent runs from scoring.

More from Baltimore Orioles

Several of those plays were made by one player. Caleb Joseph.

Joseph is probably not going to hit .256/.287/.413 like his did last year, especially considering that he currently is hitting 2-for-23 (.087) with one triple (Opening Day) and two RBIs, which came on the triple.

Eleven of those at-bats have ended in a strikeout. The veteran catcher already has a -0.3 offensive WAR, and a 0.2 defensive WAR. His career offensive WAR is 1.2, defensive is 5.0.

Yet, to watch him play, I’m not sure that you can tell Joseph’s baseball acumen by just the box score. Three plays over the weekend highlight the value he brings to the team.

Play No. 1 – April 6, 6th inning

The Yankees have one out and Neil Walker at the plate. Gary Sanchez is on first, Giancarlo Stanton on third.

Walker hits a ground ball right back to pitcher Richard Bleier (who was excellent in the series). Bleier turns to Stanton, running home and catches him in a rundown.

The rundown ends when Caleb Joseph tags Gary Sanchez, now on third base, and Giancarlo Stanton as he is running down the baseline toward the outfield.

Stanton is ruled out. Joseph argues that both should be out. Buck Showalter rushes out of the dugout, and if you can read lips, immediately says that’s two.

A long conference ensues, in which in the end, only one out is awarded.

The umpires later admit it was the wrong call, that Stanton ran past the base up the third base line, meaning that Sanchez passed him on the base paths.

Joseph specifically said that the team practices what to do in that situation. However, few people would have the wherewithal to actually execute it properly.

Play No. 2 – April 6, 11th inning

Tyler Austin is at the plate, Didi Gregorius is on third, Ronald Torreyes is on first after a double play was overturned. There are two outs.

With two strikes, Mychal Givens uncorks a wild pitch, which could end the game. But, Joseph rushes back and flips it to Givens, and the former shortstop blocks the plate and gets Gregorius out.

This one wasn’t as complicated, just a quick reaction by both Joseph and Givens to get a fast runner at the plate.

Play No. 3 – April 8, 12th Inning

Brad Brach has walked the bases loaded, and guess who is up? Yup, Aaron Judge.

Judge hits a comebacker right to Brach. Brach comes home for one, and Joseph goes…TO THIRD for the second out.

How often do you see that? By the Orioles, never, it has never happened before.

Now, Brach had to come home, unless he is going for a triple play. But, for Caleb to go to third instead of first is just something you don’t see often.

But it makes sense.

First, it gets the lead runner, meaning you can now throw the ball in the dirt, etc. and a run doesn’t score.

Second, you have an easier throwing lane than trying to throw with a runner running down the first base line. Joseph had already stepped in front of the plate and had a clear path to Tim Beckham.

Each of these plays required Joseph to be smart enough to make the play. And on everyone, he did something remarkable.

On the first, he made a play that even the umpires didn’t know the rule properly, but he did.

On the second, that play at the plate rarely ever is successful. But, when it involves the fate of the game, incredible. And, the third had never happened before in Orioles’ history. A long, storied history.

No, Caleb Joseph may not hit as many home runs as Matt Wieters. He may even lose his starting job to Chance Sisco at some point this season.

Next: Orioles Return Home With Winning Mentality

But, he has the ability to change a game with not just his defense, but with his knowledge of baseball. On a team full of guys who should be hitting, I’ll take one (or two – Gentry) defensive stalwarts in the lineup.