#MLBPlayers411 | Christian Vázquez
Idolizing Hall of Famer Iván “Pudge” Rodríguez while growing up in Puerto Rico, Christian Vázquez learned that a small catcher could have an oversized impact on a game if he was strong-armed and intelligent.
Vázquez has been demonstrating those traits himself these days for the Red Sox, who have not ceded the American League East lead since the beginning of August.
The 5-foot-9 backstop from Bayamon has been a driving factor in keeping the Red Sox in first place, hitting .333 since the All-Star break while playing outstanding defensively in terms of both throwing and receiving.
Rodríguez's longtime success showed young Puerto Rican players of the ‘90s that great defensive ability as a catcher was a potential path to the major leagues. This season, nine Puerto Rican players have played catcher at the major-league level.
Vázquez stands at the same height as Rodríguez and grew up emulating the superstar and watching his instructional catching tapes.
“That's why I got 7,” Vázquez told Yahoo! Sports upon Rodríguez's Hall of Fame induction earlier this summer “Because of him. You know?”
Along with help from his dad –Rafael Vázquez, a former amateur catcher– Vázquez showed enough potential to be drafted by the Red Sox in the ninth round of the 2008 draft at age 17.
Vázquez, platooning with Sandy Leon, has started 74 games for the Red Sox. In his starts, Boston is 42-32.
Defensively, Vázquez has thrown out 41 percent of would-be base stealers (39 of 95) during his three-year career, the best among active catchers. He is also considered among the game's best at framing pitches.
"Christian, I think, in short order, has gained a reputation around the league to be somewhat of a shutdown thrower with the aggressiveness of his picks, of his throws to bags,” manager John Farrell told MLB.com. “He's a focal point for a team when they're on offense, to have to contend with behind the plate."
He's already set career highs in games played this season with 84, along with new highs with four home runs, 28 RBIs and 34 runs scored.
At Fenway Park in 2017, Vázquez has the highest home average (.372) among all Red Sox hitters (minimum 100 at-bats) since Mike Lowell hit .373 in 2007, along with three home runs and 17 RBIs in 41 home games. He credits his comfort level at home for the success.
“I'm in front of my crowd,” Vázquez told the Providence Journal. “I love these fans and this is my home.”
In 196 games over three seasons in the majors, Vázquez has hit .260 with six home runs and 60 RBIs.
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