Eddie Joost, an All-Star shortstop who starred for the Philadelphia A’s in the 1940s and 1950s, died yesterday at age 94.
Joost played 17 seasons in the majors but didn’t find consistent success until age 31, when he drew 100 or more walks in six consecutive seasons while posting a .391 on-base percentage with an average of 18 homers and 97 runs per year.
He’s a prime example of how focusing on batting average can significantly undersell a player’s value, as Joost’s excellent defense, strong power for a shortstop, and spectacular plate discipline more than made up for a lowly .239 career batting average.
Consider that Joost had six consecutive 100-walk seasons and the rest of the shortstops in the history of baseball have combined for 21 total 100-walk seasons. And from 1947-1952 he ranked tied for seventh with Yogi Berra among all American League players in Wins Above Replacement behind Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Larry Doby, Phil Rizzuto, Vern Stephens, and Lou Boudreau.
The Red Sox signed catcher Christian Vazquez to a three-year, $13.55 million extension, per a team announcement on Saturday. The agreement will keep Vazquez under contract through the 2021 season and covers two years of arbitration eligibility and the catcher’s first year of free agency. It comes with a $7 million club option (and $250,000 buyout) for 2022 that could get bumped up to $8 million if he reaches 502 plate appearances in both 2020 and 2021. Vazquez has also volunteered to make an annual donation to the Red Sox Foundation as part of his new arrangement with the club.
The 27-year-old backstop is entering his fourth year with the Red Sox in 2018. He’s been a steady defender behind the dish over the last three years and was ranked fifth-best in defense among all American League catchers at the end of the 2017 season. He also enjoyed a breakout performance at the plate, slashing a career-best .290/.330/.404 with five home runs and a .735 OPS in 345 plate appearances.
Come Opening Day, Vazquez is expected to be the Red Sox’ primary option behind the plate, with veteran Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart poised to start in backup roles. Swihart is out of options, but has been groomed for a utility role this spring and could take a few reps in the left field and the infield corners if need be, as it doesn’t appear the club is prepared to trade him just yet.