Jorge Alfaro has entered the batter’s box 115 times this season. On 47 of those occasions, he returned to the dugout after striking out. That’s 40.9% of his plate appearances. That is an exorbitant strikeout rate, and, typically, that type of performance isn’t going to earn my adoration. Yet, and I’ll say this plainly—I do not care. I am in love with Jorge Alfaro.
His offensive numbers are rather mundane. A .255/.313/.387 slash line isn’t going to make it move, and he needs to continue refining his receiving and game-calling skills, but the allure of Alfaro is rooted more in his fascinating raw ability and imagining the possibilities of what he could possibly become. He’s currently pretty damn good, too, but watch the plays he made in last night’s game and it’s easy to get carried away.
Look at this play.
Look at it.
I command you to do so:
¡El cañón de Jorge Alfaro es asunto SERIO! 🚀😏
— LasMayores (@LasMayores) May 22, 2018
Absurd. Everyone is talking about the ridiculous throw that somehow beat Ender Inciarte to end the game, and I totally get why, but the way he explodes out from behind the plate to even put himself in position to make a throw is the true marvel of this particular play. His manager was certainly impressed:
I don’t know if there’s another catcher that I’ve ever seen — and I played with Pudge — that makes that play in the ninth inning. He is spectacularly talented, spectacularly athletic, incredibly durable. He’s starting to look like a guy who is going to be a fixture in our lineup for a long time.
That’s some high praise, and there may be a dash of hyperbole in it, but the essence of Gabe Kapler’s statement is true – Alfaro can do things most catchers can’t. Several variables are in play when a manager elects to attempt a steal – a pitcher’s pick off move, his time to the plate, and pop times, but I have to imagine advance scouts studying Alfaro are going to advise shutting down the run game while he is behind the plate.
Check out this throw from the seventh inning of last night’s game that nailed Johan Camargo:
Alfaro is fun to watch! Yes this is a missed hit&run so the runner didn’t get the best jump but, Alfaro does a lot of great things on a tough pitch to throw on. Notice how the throw is going down hill the entire 127 ft! Im-press-ive! (Video cred: MLB Network) #thelifeofacatcher pic.twitter.com/2420YU3jHB
— The Catching Guy (@TheCatchingGuy) May 22, 2018
Here he is a few weeks ago in Washington throwing out Michael Taylor:
Jorge Alfaro’s arm 💪🏻 🔥 pic.twitter.com/MqorzWd04g
— BWanksCB (@BWCrossingBroad) May 6, 2018
I’m aware that Alfaro isn’t the first catcher in the history of baseball to throw out a base runner, so maybe I’m getting a little carried away here. If only there was a way to quantify exactly how special his raw ability is:
Per @statcast, Jorge Alfaro has the strongest throwing arm of any catcher in the majors.
His throws this season have averaged 89.8 mph. Next-best is Gary Sanchez at 87.8.
— Corey Seidman (@CSeidmanNBCS) May 22, 2018
As the season wears on, I would like to see him cut down his strikeout rate to the 30% range, which is more in line with his past performances, and I’d like to see a better return on his obvious power. For now, however, his game, though imperfect, is already well worth the price of admission.