A lot of hype has surrounded Los Angeles Angels rookie Logan O’Hoppe ever since he was traded to the team at the 2022 deadline. O’Hoppe’s dominance in the 2023 spring training led to expectations of an offensive-minded catcher who can support the big hitters, namely Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout, and Anthony Rendon.
Before O’Hoppe, Max Stassi served as the Angels’ Opening Day catcher for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Stassi was dealt to the Angels in a trade from the Houston Astros and broke out in the shortened 2020 campaign. In 31 games, he hit seven home runs with a 138 OPS+. Stassi also had a decent offensive year in 2021, with an OPS+ of 103 being above average for a catcher. He entirely regressed in 2022, however, putting up a measly .180 batting average and a 62 OPS+. Stassi’s injury just before the start of the 2023 season cleared space to ensure that O’Hoppe would be given the starter role.
In just nine games, Logan O’Hoppe has shattered expectations. With his home run last night, O’Hoppe passed teammates Ohtani, Trout, and Hunter Renfroe for the team lead. These home runs are resulting in a .677 slugging percentage and an OPS bordering on 1.000. At the start of this season, O’Hoppe may be the best hitter on the Angels. But while there are many positives to such a strong start, there are some concerns as well.
The Logan O’Hoppe hot streak continues 🔥
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 12, 2023
Don’t Get Your O’Hoppe Up
O’Hoppe’s .991 OPS is inflated by his high slugging and low number of games. Behind his impressive display of power, O’Hoppe only has a batting average of .258 with an OBP of .314. While a .258 batting average is above the league average, a relatively low on-base percentage is a worrying sign.
Similar metrics validate this worry. His struggle in both whiff percentage and chase percentage indicates an early lack of plate vision. In short, as much as O’Hoppe is hitting for power, he is also missing the ball entirely. This is even more concerning given O’Hoppe’s high strikeout rate and low walk rate. While power hitters like Giancarlo Stanton have found success with similar strikeout and walk rates, O’Hoppe has yet to prove he can sustain this power throughout the entire season. As the games go on, we can expect O’Hoppe’s OBP to continue to decrease as a result of more strikeouts and fewer walks.
Another worrying sign is Logan O’Hoppe’s less-than-stellar defense behind home plate. In his few games behind the dish, O’Hoppe sports a framing rate in the bottom one percentile while giving up -1 catcher framing runs. O’Hoppe also supports a below-average pop time of 2.14 seconds. While this only happens to be .14 seconds slower than average, the larger bases and new pitch timer may exaggerate this difference. With runners getting more and more aggressive on the bases, teams may look to expose this weakness in the rookie.
Not all hope is lost, however. While the offense and defense are worries are something to keep an eye on, the truth is O’Hoppe is exactly where he needs to be. Baseball is a hard game and the major leagues make up the best of the best. Plate discipline and zone knowledge are going to come as O’Hoppe gets more and more at-bats. Honestly, O’Hoppe doesn’t even need to dramatically cut down on his strikeouts to be a league-average offensive catcher. All he needs to do is have the capability to draw walks to pair with his power. With an Angels team hunting for a playoff spot, O’Hoppe may be not only a major X factor but a dark horse Rookie of the Year candidate with his early hot streak at the plate.
Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports