After being traded to the Halos from the Houston Astros, catcher Max Stassi played a total of 20 games to close out the 2019 season. He reappeared in 2020, but with a shortened season and three other catchers vying for action behind the plate, his season appearances plateaued at 31. However, in his junior year with the Angels, the 2021 season saw Stassi retake the catcher spotlight, logging 87 games and securing his spot as one of the best defensive catchers in the American League.
The last time that Stassi played that amount of games in a season was in 2018 with the Astros, where he finished 88 games before moving to Anaheim. In the past few seasons, fans have seen Stassi work his way against a variety of catching competition including Jason Castro, José Briceno and Anthony Bemboom. But it appears that his patience and persistence paid off.
Defensively, Stassi achieved impressive 2021 numbers worthy of recognition throughout the league. He ranked No.1 in the AL for Fielding Runs Above Average with 12.2. He also ranked No. 1 in the AL for called strikes above average with 15.4. In comparison to his catching counterpart, Kurt Suzuki, Stassi played 15 more games and produced higher defensive numbers, making him a strong candidate to lead the catching staff next season.
On the offense, Stassi recorded career-highs this season, putting in as much work at the plate as he did behind it. He scored a career-high 45 runs, easily outscoring his previous high of 28 from the 2018 season. Following suit with his hitting performance, the catcher had 68 hits this season, despite his lower batting average of .241. After 282 at bats, he closed out 2021 with a .326 OBP and a .426 slugging percentage. To add to his accolades, the former Astro also received the AL Player of the Week award early in the season on June 13.
He may have been passed up during the nominations for Golden Glove finalists, but his statistics this season are proof that he is definitely worth looking out for in 2022 because if his past seasons are any indication, he seems to have sharpened his stats over time.
87 Games / 282 At Bats / .241 Avg. / .326 OBP / .426 SLG / .752 OPS / 68 Hits / 13 Home Runs / 35 RBI / 45 Runs / 11 2B / 1 3B / 28 BB / 101 SO
Best Offensive Performance
June 7 vs. Kansas City Royals
We said it all last season – sometimes, the bats wake up and sometimes they don’t. This was one of the happy days. When the Halos took on the Royals in early June, the offense came to play, with Stassi earning the team three out of eight runs for the night. Stassi went 3-for-4 with a home run, a double and 3 RBIs. The night ended in an 8-3 victory.
If fans ever doubted Stassi’s offensive fire, this night put that doubt to bed instantly.
Best Defensive Performance
September 16 vs. Chicago White Sox
Stassi logged a myriad of impressive stats this season, making several of his best defensive moments worthy of this category. Of course, it’s hard to beat a good catch. With two outs and two on base in the bottom of the 6th inning, White Sox outfielder Bill Hamilton hit a foul ball high in the air and dangerously close to the railing of the Halo dugout. Stassi ditched his mask, tracking the ball to the sidelines and making the catch, all while avoiding a dive into the dugout. The catch put an end to the inning and stranded two runners, opening the door for the Angels to walk away with a 9-3 victory.
What to Expect in 2022:
The Halos leading catcher will be back in 2022 under a one-year contract before he becomes a free agent in 2023. With Suzuki electing free agency at the end of last season, it looks like the competition for Stassi’s catching partner is just getting started, but after an impressive 2021 season, we’re confident that space behind the plate is in good hands with Stassi guiding the catching rotation.