The Braves are paying catchers Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki a combined $4.5 million this season, and to say the team is getting more than its money’s worth would be a major understatement.
Flowers’ two-run homer in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s 5-3 win against the Dodgers was the majors-leading 10th game-winning RBI for Braves catchers, who ranked second in OPS (.853) behind Cubs catchers (.862) and second in OBP (.365) behind Giants catchers (.366) before Friday.
Braves catchers were also tied for third in homers (20), fourth in RBIs (67), tied for fourth in go-ahead RBIs (14), fifth in average (.285) and fifth in slugging percentage (.487).
Flowers, who made his 65th start at catcher in the Braves’ 118th game Friday, began the day with a .301 batting average – 60 points above his career average, 31 points above his career-best .270 in 2016 – plus a .388 on-base percentage and .469 slugging percentage (.856 OPS), all of which would be personal bests by a wide margin. He had nine homers and 37 RBIs in 239 at-bats before Friday.
Flowers is making $3 million this season in the second season of a two-year contract that also includes a team option at $4 million in 2018.
Suzuki, who signed a one-year, $1.5 million free-agent contract in January, was hitting .261 with a robust .861 OPS in 50 games (42 starts at catcher) before Friday and had 12 homers in just 161 at-bats. His home-run rate of one every 13.42 at-bats would’ve ranked third in the National League behind Cody Bellinger (10.83) and Giancarlo Stanton (11.79) if Suzuki had enough plate appearances to qualify.
Suzuki, 33, was just three homers shy of his career-best 15 in 2009 with Oakland, when he played 147 games and had a career-high 570 at-bats, more than 400 above his current total.