Zack Collins’ MLB time could end
The Chicago White Sox are slowly approaching their full strength. Ahead of Sunday night’s game against the Chicago Cubs, Yasmani Grandal could be seen throwing bombs into the stands at Wrigley Field during batting practice. One of his batting practice home runs even hit the jumbotron while performing swings with his right hand.
It happened a day after he ran the basics at what appeared to be full speed. All signs are that he is close to a comeback. In a pre-game interview, Tony La Russa also added that Yasmani Grandal “will be back sooner than we thought”.
While getting their powerful receiver is great news for the White Sox, it could spell the end of Zack Collins’ time in the big leagues this season. When Grandal was injured, the White Sox called Seby Zavala to share time with Zack Collins behind the plate.
At the time, it was assumed that Collins would get the majority of the playing time. He had helped guide the White Sox’s starting pitchers to dominant performances, most notably the strike scorer Carlos Rodón. Seby Zavala made his first appearance when Lance Lynn left for Minnesota. Lynn threw the ball well and enjoyed Zavala’s work behind the plate so much that he became his main receiver.
The Chicago White Sox have an interesting decision to make behind the plate.
As the games progressed, Zavala proved to be the best defensive receiver and had more opportunities to work with other pitchers. The reason Collins was ahead of him on the depths board was because he was supposed to be better offensively. It was not the case.
Collins was hitting 0.225 the day Grandal injured himself. Since then, his batting average has dropped to 0.197. In his last 15 games, he has beaten an abysmal 0.065. In his last 34 appearances at home plate, he’s been 2-for-34.
While Zavala’s .217 batting average isn’t that impressive, his recent hot stretch has been. In his last seven games, he’s reached .286 with three homers and nine RBIs. Lucky for him, he won’t have to hit a lot when Grandal returns to the starting lineup, as Grandal will be spending the majority of the time behind home plate. His slight advantage over Collins offensively might be all he needs to stay in the big leagues.
Meanwhile, Zavala is a much better defensive receiver. The pitchers feel comfortable pitching him. After pitching at Zavala for the first time, Lance Lynn practically only pitched him and it could stay that way.
Tony La Russa said ahead of the season that he values defense. The measurements show that Collins is one of the worst defensive receivers in baseball. Its rSZ, which measures hit zone runs saved (aka pitch framing), is -6. His rSB, which measures the prevention of bases stolen, is -1 and he has allowed 37 bases to be stolen from him. The most telling statistic is his saved defensive runs. DRS is a statistic that takes into account errors, reach, and arm strength. Collins DRS is -14.
Zack Collins had some bad interruptions in his career. He’s never had the chance to play for a rebuilding team and experience growing pains in the Majors. Collins worked tirelessly to improve his defense and become a useful receiver. When he was ready to play in the MLB he was always blocked by veteran receivers like Wellington Castillo and James McCann.
When he was finally called out, he played sparingly. He had to beat three other receivers in spring training just to get the save job. Grandal getting injured should have been his chance to gain more playing time. Instead, he fell into the doldrums while Zavala made the most of his opportunities. When Grandal is ready to return, Collins will likely be the one to make it to Charlotte.