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Oops! All Astros: Martín Maldonado

Martín Maldonado was Houston’s number one catcher in 2022.

World Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Houston Astros - Game Two Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

We’re reviewing all 316 players to appear anywhere in Houston’s system through the 2023 campaign.

Martín Maldonado is a six-foot, 230 lb. right-handed catcher from Naguabo, PR. Born on August 16, 1986, he was a 27th round selection of the Anaheim Angels in 2004 out of Dr Juan J Nunez HS. Taken 803rd overall, Maldonado ranks second of seven taken at the position in career WAR, with a 7.6 mark. Rick Aguilera leads the fraternity with 21.8.

Prior to the 2007 season, the Angels released Maldonado, and the Milwaukee Brewers took a flyer. He made his major league debut with them in 2011, and ultimately played six seasons there. He later returned to the Angels before making a 41-game pitstop for the 2018 Astros. Granted free agency following that season, Maldonado signed on with the Kansas City Royals. In July, 2019, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs on the 15th and later on to the Astros for Tony Kemp at the trade deadline.

Through his first three seasons back with the Astros, Maldonado hit .186 with 24 home runs and 70 RBI in 199 games. In 2022, he opened the season as Houston’s Opening Day catcher. He started the season on a particularly brutal cold streak, going four-for-54 with eight walks and 22 strikeouts. On May 15, his seasonal average finally broke the .100 mark in an 8-0 Houston win over the Washington Nationals. Maldonado collected a single and a home run in the victory, scoring twice. On July 2, he hit a pair of solo home runs in a 9-1 win against the Los Angeles Angels. On September 18, he collected four hits, including a home run and totaling four RBI in an 11-2 victory against the Oakland Athletics.

At no point during the 2022 season did Maldonado get above the Mendoza line, made famous by Mario Mendoza for averaging under .200. On September 21, three days after Maldonado’s four-hit game, he reached a season-high .189 when he was three-for-four with a solo home run. He closed out the year with a .186/.248/.352 slashline, with 15 home runs, 45 RBI, 22 walks and 116 strikeouts in 113 games.

Defensively, Maldonado played 948 23 innings behind the plate for Houston, leading the team with 110 appearances at catcher. He finished the year with a .998 fielding percentage but led the majors with nine passed balls. Maldonado threw out 26 percent of would-be base stealers, a point better than the American League average.

The postseason looked a lot like the regular season for Maldonado, who was six-for-29 with a pair of RBI over 11 games.

Maldonado gets a lot of flak for being somewhat substandard on our message boards here, but it may be a little unfair. Despite his slashline, he was named an American League Silver Slugger finalist at catcher, and defensively, his advanced metrics point to a slightly above-average major-league-level catcher. On top of that, he’s revered by the entire pitching staff as one of the smartest play-callers around at this moment. So he’s 36? Good catchers are hard to find. Look for Maldonado to start the 2023 season when he ended the 2022 campaign, behind the plate for the Astros. Thanks for reading.