* Series note: I’ll be making baseball player report cards in the order of their number (from lowest, # 2 Vaz, to highest, # 99 Gonzo) over the next few months. Did I agree to this messing with Tom for never completing the basketball report cards? Yes. Did I expect him to then complete the said basketball cards, and thus sentenced me to make 43 of these? Also yes. Do I do this because I suspect I must continually remind myself that baseball exists and will return during the Vanderbilt football season? You call!
.249 / .393 / .378 with 9 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 36 RBI and 1-1 stolen bases in 58 games played (185 AB).
On the defensive end, Chi Chi shot down 65% of would be base steals. It’s really very good. Oh, and if I have to tell you how amazing Chi Chi “The Frame God” Rodriguez is at stealing a strike and managing a pitcher, I have to assume you did not see him play.
Simply put, Chi Chi was the best defensive catcher I have ever seen play at Vanderbilt.
IN Draft preview, I wrote this for his defense:
Chi Chi The Frame God’s defensive chops are more skilled than tool-based. He is a striking savant, who has worked diligently to refine all aspects of his captivating defense. As such, even his 65% reduction in enduring steals is more a product of hard work to bring down the pop time, and the intangible assets of the catch’s IQ in the Yadier Molina style, than due to a flat-out arm cannon. I absolutely believe that Chi Chi will be able to do at major league level when he is 25.
How many times have you heard baseball advertisers fantasize about a catcher’s ability to hit places? Is it almost never, since most casual fans do not fully understand what they are seeing? With CJ behind the plate, you heard it several times each match.
And that was probably not enough to convey how good he is at this aspect of the game, and how much better he is than the average college (and dare I say, MLB!) Catcher to steal a strike. Think of it as a good hand. While most starter catchers correspond to a child’s birthday celebration, Chi Chi the Frame is God Ricky Jay.
On the offensive side of things, Chi Chi certainly has enough bat talent, but 2021 was a bit of a disappointment on this side of things (but not really). Although he fell 40 points on the stroke average, the OBP increased by 23 points and his slugging by 22. As such, this was probably a deliberate change in the stroke method with emphasis on power and trips at the expense of the average. This is not an approach change I would have suggested, as Rodriguez’s freshman year gave us a hint that he might be an elite contact hitter. I understand that, though.
As such, his overall production was better, so why do I say it was a bit of a disappointment? I think it was reasonable for us to expect him to make a significant leap forward from the first-year student to the second year on the plate, and that did not happen.
Still, Chi Chi should always be a draft defense for him, and Oakland A took him in the 5th round (and signed him for $ 400,000).
You will be forgiven for believing that the A stole another year of Chi Chi the Frame God from Commodore fans with the dexterity and alacrity of a stolen Rodriguez star. It’s okay to feel sad.