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The Red Report 2018 - Tucker Barnhart

The Reds’ Gold Glove catcher heads into 2018 as the No. 1 catcher for the first time in his career.

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MLB: Cincinnati Reds-Media Day Sam Greene-USA TODAY Sports

Fast Facts

  • Born on January 7, 1991 in Indianapolis, IN.
  • Second only to Derek Grimes as the most famous person from Indiana.
  • Led all National League catchers in dWAR (2.8) and caught stealing percentage (44%) in 2017.
  • He won the Gold Glove in 2017, becoming the first Reds’ catcher to win the award since Johnny Bench in 1977.

Organizational Information

Drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 10th round of the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft
Debut: April 3, 2014
Rookie Status: Exceeded rookie limits during 2015 season
2018 Contract Status: Signed thru 2021, 4 yrs/$16 million with a team option for 2022
Free Agent: 2022

Career Stats

Scouting Report

Barnhart vs. RHP and LHP

Barnhart vs. RHP

Barnhart vs. LHP

That Defense

It turns out that it is difficult to find a GIF of Barnhart throwing out runners, so enjoy a nice catch and a smile from our Gold Glove catcher.

2018 Projections

Projections courtesy of FanGraphs


Every season of Tucker Barnhart’s career, the amount of playing time he would receive was dependent on the health of Devin Mesoraco. Heck, the reason he received his first call to the majors in 2014 was because of injuries to Mesoraco. No matter how well he performed filling in for the oft-injured starter, he was always presumed as the backup heading into the next season. That all changed after 2017.

2017 was Barnhart’s best season to date in every aspect. At the plate, he hit a career-best .270/.347/.403 with 7 dingers and 44 RBI. His 96 OPS+ and 92 wRC+ in 2017, while not quite setting the world on fire, was also the best of his career and much closer to league-average than his previous seasons. His defense, however, was on a completely different level.

Barnhart has always had a reputation as a defense-first catcher, but it wasn’t until last season that he started getting recognized as one of the best in the game. His 2.8 dWAR (BB-Ref) was best among National League catchers, and his 44% caught-stealing also led the NL. He threw out 32 base-runners last season, which led MLB and his Defensive rating of 14.9 (FanGraphs) was 3rd best of all major league defenders, behind only Andrelton Simmons and Anthony Rendon. That defensive performance led him to become the first Reds’ catcher to win the Gold Glove since Johnny Bench won it in 1977, and also the first catcher not named Buster Posey or Yadier Molina to win it since 2007.

So what does all of this mean for 2018?

First of all, it allows Barnhart to go into the season as the No. 1 catcher for the first time in his career. It also allows the Reds a formidable back-up in former All-Star Devin Mesoraco (if, of course, he stays healthy.) Lastly, and possibly most importantly, it allows him to help develop the Reds’ young pitching staff.

Much has been written about how important the performance of the Reds’ young pitchers is to the success of the rebuild. Having Barnhart behind the plate full-time could be an integral part to their development. For someone as prepared and knowledgeable about the game as Barnhart is, his presence behind the plate could help guys like Luis Castillo, Sal Romano, Amir Garrett, and Robert Stephenson continue to improve on the mound.

While Barnhart may never be more than a league average hitter, his stellar defense and his influence on the young pitching staff could make him one of the Reds’ most important pieces in 2018.