Realmuto more at home on road

ATLANTA — J.T. Realmuto is one of the bright spots in an otherwise rough season for the Marlins. The rookie catcher has the makings of being a better than average big leaguer, and perhaps a future All-Star. He’s already shown signs that he eventually will become a team leader.

Still, like pretty much all rookies, he is going through growing pains. Realmuto also is being victimized by bad luck. He’s repeatedly stung the baseball with little to show for it.

What is interesting is how Realmuto’s numbers stack up when you evaluate his home and road splits. It’s glaring how the catcher is not being rewarded for his up-the-middle approach at spacious Marlins Park.

Because Miami’s ballpark is so expansive, outfielders can afford to play deep, and they often run down hard line drives that more frequently fall for hits on the road.

Entering Thursday night, Realmuto has exactly the same number of at-bats (148) and plate appearances (156) at home and on the road. The results are drastically different. At Marlins Park, his slash line is .209/.244/.338 with three homers and 18 RBIs. Away, he’s at .284/.310/.446 with three homers and 11 RBIs.

Realmuto’s homers are coming when he pulls the ball. Even at Marlins Park, pulled shots go out. It’s the middle of the field that routinely demoralizes pretty much any hitter who plays regularly at Marlins Park.

The Marlins are open to moving in the fences. But there hasn’t been a firm commitment to do so for 2016 or beyond. The park is in its fourth season, and the club has been studying data.

Marlins hitters don’t often publicly talk about how the park can be so unrewarding, mainly because they try not to use it as an excuse. They also don’t want it to become a psychological thing.

What the organization doesn’t want to see happen is their hitters having two approaches, one for at home and the other on the road.

Clearly, the park isn’t rewarding Realmuto, who is a big part of the present and future.

Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria also is in a similar situation. He doesn’t have huge power, but his power tends to be hurt at home. Hech’s splits at Marlins Park are: .266/.291/.365 with three homers and 24 RBIs. On the road, he’s at .283/.326/.372 with two homers and 18 RBIs.

Christian Yelich, one of the faces of the franchise, is regarded as a future middle of the lineup hitter. To be productive in that role, he must demonstrate more power. But at Marlins Park, he has one homer and 11 RBIs, compared to five and 15 on the road. Now, Yelich’s slash line is better at home (.302/.389/.377) compared to .229/.285/.355.

Martin Prado is another: .250/.301/.336 in Miami and .291/.324/.378 away.

The team’s main power threat, of course, is Giancarlo Stanton, who can make any park appear small. He’s hit 13 of his 27 homers at home, and driven in 36 in Miami. Away, he has 14 homers and 31 RBIs. At home Stanton is slugging .613 compared to .599.

Still, the slugger would take his share of wall-scrapers, and not have to club the ball 450 plus feet to guarantee a trot around the bases.

It will be interesting to see this offseason if the Marlins will move in the fences. If it happens, the core group of players right now would see their production benefit. That’s without adding another new face. If not, it may be more of the same offensive struggles, regardless of who is offering Stanton protection in the lineup.

— Joe Frisaro

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