Austin Hedges

Austin Hedges

31-Year-Old CatcherC
Cleveland Guardians
2024 Fantasy Outlook
Hedges spent the bulk of 2023 with Pittsburgh before winning the World Series with Texas after a mid season trade. A backup catcher at this point of his career, Hedges signed with Cleveland in December where he will provide a veteran presence behind Bo Naylor in 2024. Hedges remains a strong signal caller and defensive option behind the dish, but hit just .184/.234/.227 across 211 plate appearances in 2023 with his glove being the calling card to keep him in a job. It's hard to see any real fantasy appeal for Hedges, even in two catcher formats. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the Guardians in December of 2023.
Rejoining Cleveland
CCleveland Guardians
December 10, 2023
Hedges agreed to a one-year, $4 million contract with the Guardians on Sunday, Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports.
ANALYSIS
Hedges split last season between Pittsburgh and Texas but will make a 2024 return to Cleveland, where he made 199 appearances from 2020 to 2022. The veteran backstop brings little offensively with a .478 OPS over the past two years but provides strong defense. Hedges should fill the backup job at catcher behind youngster Bo Naylor for the Guardians.
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Batting Stats
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2023
2022
2021
2020
2019
2018
2017
2023 MLB Game Log
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2022 MLB Game Log
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2021 MLB Game Log
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2020 MLB Game Log
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2019 MLB Game Log
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Batting Order Slot Breakdown
vs Right-Handed Pitchers
vs RHP
#1
#2
#3
#4
#5
#6
#7
#8
#9
45
vs Left-Handed Pitchers
vs LHP
#1
#2
#3
#4
#5
#6
#7
#8
#9
1
20
Left/Right Batting Splits
Since 2021
 
 
+3%
OPS vs LHP
2023
 
 
+10%
OPS vs RHP
2022
 
 
+5%
OPS vs LHP
2021
 
 
+11%
OPS vs LHP
OPS PA R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Since 2021vs Left .509 253 21 7 24 2 .159 .232 .277
Since 2021vs Right .492 608 51 11 53 2 .180 .231 .261
2023vs Left .434 78 4 1 6 1 .147 .213 .221
2023vs Right .477 133 10 0 10 0 .205 .246 .231
2022vs Left .509 83 8 2 11 1 .147 .259 .250
2022vs Right .483 255 18 5 19 1 .168 .235 .248
2021vs Left .567 92 9 4 7 0 .179 .222 .345
2021vs Right .511 220 23 6 24 1 .178 .219 .292
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Home/Away Batting Splits
Since 2021
 
 
+15%
OPS on Road
2023
 
 
+18%
OPS on Road
2022
 
 
+17%
OPS on Road
2021
 
 
+12%
OPS on Road
OPS PA R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Since 2021Home .459 397 35 6 28 1 .168 .221 .238
Since 2021Away .529 464 37 12 49 3 .179 .240 .289
2023Home .420 95 6 0 3 0 .174 .211 .209
2023Away .495 116 8 1 13 1 .192 .252 .242
2022Home .447 154 12 1 11 0 .169 .242 .206
2022Away .525 184 14 6 19 2 .158 .240 .285
2021Home .496 148 17 5 14 1 .163 .207 .289
2021Away .556 164 15 5 17 0 .192 .231 .325
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Stat Review
How does Austin Hedges compare to other hitters?
This section compares his stats with all batting seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 400 plate appearances)*. The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.

* Exit Velocity and Barrels/PA % are benchmarked against 2019 data (min 400 PA) and Hard Hit Rate is benchmarked against last season's data (min 400 PA). See here for more exit velocity/barrels stats plus an explanation of current limitations with that data set.
  • BB/K
    Walk to strikeout ratio
  • BB Rate
    The percentage of plate appearances resulting in a walk.
  • K Rate
    The percentage of plate appearances resulting in a strikeout.
  • BABIP
    Batting average on balls in play. Measures how many of a batter’s balls in play go for hits.
  • ISO
    Isolated Power. Slugging percentage minus batting average. A computation used to measure a batter's raw power.
  • AVG
    Batting average. Hits divided by at bats.
  • OBP
    On Base Percentage. A measure of how often a batters reaches base. Roughly equal to number of times on base divided by plate appearances.
  • SLG
    Slugging Percentage. A measure of the batting productivity of a hitter. It is calculated as total bases divided by at bats.
  • OPS
    On base plus slugging. THe sum of a batter's on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
  • wOBA
    Weighted on-base average. Measures a player's overall offensive contributions per plate appearance. wOBA combines all the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighting each of them in proportion to their actual run value.
  • Exit Velocity
    The speed of the baseball as it comes off the bat, immediately after a batter makes contact.
  • Hard Hit Rate
    A measure of contact quality from Sports Info Solutions. This stat explains what percentage of batted balls were hit hard vs. medium or soft.
  • Barrels/PA
    The percentage of plate appearances where a batter had a batted ball classified as a Barrel. A Barrel is a batted ball with similar exit velocity and launch angle to past ones that led to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage.
  • Expected BA
    Expected Batting Average.
  • Expected SLG
    Expected Slugging Percentage.
  • Sprint Speed
    The speed of a runner from home to first, in feet per second.
  • Ground Ball %
    The percentage of balls put in play that are on the ground.
  • Line Drive %
    The percentage of balls put in play that are line drives.
  • Fly Ball %
    The percentage of balls put in play that are fly balls.
BB/K
0.23
 
BB Rate
5.2%
 
K Rate
22.3%
 
BABIP
.236
 
ISO
.043
 
AVG
.184
 
OBP
.234
 
SLG
.227
 
OPS
.461
 
wOBA
.211
 
Exit Velocity
87.2 mph
 
Hard Hit Rate
30.5%
 
Barrels/PA
0.5%
 
Expected BA
.215
 
Expected SLG
.289
 
Sprint Speed
21.4 ft/sec
 
Ground Ball %
42.1%
 
Line Drive %
20.0%
 
Fly Ball %
37.9%
 
Advanced Batting Stats
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Additional Stats
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Defensive Stats
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Batted Ball Stats
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
2023
2022
2021
2020
2019
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
How good is Austin Hedges glove? Over the past four seasons, he's posted a .171/.238/.289 line, yet he's appeared in 60% of his team's games over that span. His 27.5 percent strikeout isn't that terrible. His problem is the third lowest HardHit% and fourth lowest average exit velocity among batters with at least 300 plate appearances last season, plus an above average fly ball rate. Fly balls can translate into homers, but in Hedges' case, they're mostly cans of corn. On the other hand, his 71 defensive runs saved since 2017 is the fifth most at any position, and by far the highest among backstops. The Pirates signed Hedges to mentor their young pitchers. From a fantasy perspective, the only reason to have Hedges on your team is if you lose a bet or play in a simulation format where defense counts a ton.
Hedges appeared in 88 games during his first full season with Cleveland in 2021, but he looked much the same as he did during his time in San Diego. The 29-year-old hit .178/.220/.308 with 10 home runs and 31 RBI, though as usual he was a plus defensively with 1.4 dWAR. Roberto Perez was injured much of last season and has now moved on from the Guardians, leaving Hedges to serve as the team's primary backstop in 2022. Backup Luke Maile will open the season on the injured list with a hamstring issue, leaving unheralded prospect Bryan Lavastida to fill the backup role. Hedges hits for decent power with a 162-game average of 19 home runs for his career, but he typically struggles too much in other offensive areas to warrant fantasy consideration despite the ample playing time available.
Hedges is as terrific defensively as he is brutal offensively. Simply put, he just cannot hit. Sure, he can punish a hanging breaking ball or a poorly-located fastball out of the yard with his raw power, but his overall offensive approach is beyond terrible. His swinging-strike rate was an acceptable 9.3%, yet his strikeout rate was three times higher than that -- a "feat" he shared with Jason Kipnis, Jacob Stallings and Phil Gosselin in 2020. We're talking about a player with a career slash line of .198/.255/.356! The defense will give him more plate appearances than his bat deserves, and an argument could be made to allow the DH to hit for Hedges rather than for the pitcher. National League pitchers hit .131 as a league in 2019, so it isn't as far-fetched as you might think. Do whatever you can to keep this guy away from your roster.
Hedges was worth close to 1.5 fWAR in 2019 despite a dismal .176/.252/.311 batting line, which speaks to how highly his defense grades out. His strikeout rate shot up to a career-high 31.4% and, to put it kindly, he did not make the most of his limited contact. Hedges' hard-hit rate and average exit velocity both ranked in the bottom 18th percentile of the league. His .266 xwOBA ranked 399th out of 451 players with at least 100 PA. He's gotten extremely pull-happy in recent seasons, adding to the reasons to be skeptical about him ever panning out as more than a glorified backup. That said, Hedges is still only 27 years old, he was once a highly-rated prospect and his pop times and framing are elite. A change of scenery and move to a more favorable home park could help. He should be left over in the freebie bin in two-catcher leagues as long as he remains in San Diego.
Hedges does some things well and some things poorly. The 26-year-old is one of the premier pitch framers in the major leagues, and has a strong and accurate throwing arm behind the plate. He also has legitimate in-game power, as evidenced by his 32 combined home runs over the past two seasons. Hedges' .198 ISO ranked sixth among all catchers with at least 300 plate appearances. However, that power comes with a lot of swing and miss. He trimmed his strikeout rate a bit in 2018 but it was still 27.6%, and those contact issues make him a big batting-average liability. According to Statcast, Hedges' xBA was a mere .212, so it could have been a lot worse in 2018. The catcher position is so bad that Hedges is certainly relevant, but he needs the playing time to accumulate counting stats. As things stand, Hedges will likely be in a timeshare with Francisco Mejia in San Diego. His outlook would brighten with a trade.
Hedges took over as the Padres' primary catcher in 2017, playing 120 games and retaining some of the home-run gains he brought to the table at Triple-A El Paso in 2016. Unfortunately, top-level pitching nearly doubled Hedges' strikeout rate from his Triple-A mark, as he fanned 29.3 percent of the time last season. Not surprisingly, Hedges' batting average tumbled to .214, and his low walk rate (5.5 percent) kept him from being more of an asset to the San Diego lineup. One thing working in his favor, however, is that his defense will continue to afford him a lot of playing time. Moreover, Hedges' development of game power took several years as he advanced through the system, but strikeouts were never an overwhelming issue for him throughout his time as a prospect. At 25, he may not be a completely finished project as a hitter, but expecting more than a .230-.240 average and 20 homers is likely a stretch.
Always lauded for his ability behind the plate as a defense-first catching prospect, Hedges had a breakout at Triple-A El Paso in 2016 with a surge of power (21 homers) and a strong .326/.353/.597 line before he was promoted to San Diego in September. With Derek Norris in tow, the Padres were hesitant to leave Hedges on the Opening Day roster as a backup, and the decision to give him regular playing time at Triple-A appears to have paid off. Hedges has benefited from his time in the Pacific Coast League by playing half of his games at El Paso over the past two seasons, but his career .326/.361/.583 line at Triple-A suggests that he has nothing left to prove in the minors. The Padres certainly must have thought so, as they dealt Derek Norris to the Nationals to clear the path for Hedges to become the team's workhorse backstop. His developing power and low strikeout rate (career 16.6 percent in the minors) make him a useful cheap option in two-catcher formats.
Hedges was called up on May 5 and was with the big league club the rest of the way, working primarily in a backup role. Offensively, there is a lot of room for improvement, which is not a surprise because he is a defense-first catcher. With elite skills behind the plate, the Padres don't need to be overwhelmingly concerned about his output with the bat. As long as Derek Norris remains in San Diego, the Padres will likely lean on Hedges to spell him as a backup seeing approximately a start or two per week.
Hedges spent all of 2014 at Double-A San Antonio, where questions have surfaced regarding his ability to hit upper level pitching. Just 22, defense has been the calling card for Hedges to this point in his development, and he may continue advancing through the San Diego system even after posting a sub-.600 OPS in the Texas League last season. While he will carry plenty of value to the Padres regardless of his offensive ceiling, owners hoping to lock up a quality bat at a scarce position in dynasty leagues may want to look elsewhere. At his peak, Hedges could have enough power to push double-digit home runs annually, but it may come with a low average. He has all of the tools to be a premier defensive player upon arrival, which could afford him more regular playing time than his bat is actually ready for. Hedges will likely begin 2015 at Triple-A El Paso, but he should get his first look in the big leagues before the end of the season.
Hedges, one of the top catching prospects in baseball, reached the Texas League as a 20-year-old this past season. In 86 games between High-A Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio, he combined to post a .260 average with four homers, 38 RBI, 38 runs, eight steals, and a 28:54 BB:K ratio. If his skill set as a hitter wasn't enough, he's thrown out 32 percent (87-of-269) of potential basestealers in his two-plus minor league seasons. If all goes as planned, he should reach Triple-A Tucson at some point in 2014.
A 2011 second-round draft pick, Hedges is a defensive minded catcher still working his way through the Padres' minor league system. The fact that his glove is his main strength should only help to speed up his timetable to the majors. Last season, the Padres thought so highly of him they sent him to Low-A Fort Wayne for the full season, where hit .279/.334/.451 with 10 homers over 373 plate appearances. At High-A Lake Elsinore of the California League, his numbers should spike as the ball is known to carry in those parks. Only 20 years old, Hedges needs time to develop his bat and hone all the skills that are required to play catcher at the major league level. Keep him in mind, when you're thinking about prospects with long-term upside.
More Fantasy News
Dealt to Texas
CTexas Rangers
August 1, 2023
The Pirates traded Hedges to the Rangers on Tuesday in exchange for international bonus pool money, Jeff Passan of ESPN.com reports.
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Headed for No. 2 role
CPittsburgh Pirates
July 17, 2023
Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton confirmed Monday that Hedges is in line to serve as the Pirates' No. 2 catcher moving forward after Endy Rodriguez was promoted from Triple-A Indianapolis, Justice delos Santos of MLB.com reports.
ANALYSIS
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Not starting Saturday
CPittsburgh Pirates
July 8, 2023
Hedges isn't in the Pirates' lineup Saturday against Arizona.
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Sitting in series finale
CPittsburgh Pirates
July 6, 2023
Hedges is not in Thursday's lineup against the Dodgers.
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Resting Wednesday
CPittsburgh Pirates
June 29, 2023
Hedges is out of the lineup for Wednesday's game against the Padres.
ANALYSIS
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