Mathis with the Toronto Blue Jays
March 31, 1983 |
|August 12, 2005 for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim|
(through 2014 season)
|Runs batted in||207|
Jeffrey Stephen Mathis (born March 31, 1983) is an American professional baseball catcher who is currently a free agent. He made his major league debut on August 12, 2005 for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He bats and throws right-handed.
Minor League career
After playing both football and baseball for Marianna High School (winning four district titles, a regional title and appearing in the state championship game in football in 2000, as well as a 1999 state title in baseball, on a team that featured fellow first-round pick Alan Horne), he became a first round draft selection by the Angels in 2001, Mathis moved up the ranks to Triple-A Salt Lake by 2005. He earned the Angels' minor league Defensive Player of the Year award. Noted for his defensive skills at the catcher spot, he also had a career-best year with the bat, hitting .276 with 21 home runs.
Major League career
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2005–2011)
After a solid 2006 spring training, Mathis was expected to see substantial playing time at catcher, sharing the position with José Molina. However, once the regular season began, he struggled greatly on both defense and offense. With Mathis batting only .108 and the team compiling just a 2–9 record in games that he started, the Angels demoted him back to the minor leagues one month into the season. Mathis was replaced on the Angels roster by catcher Mike Napoli.
In 2008, he batted just .194, below the Mendoza Line. Mathis hit a 11th-inning walk-off RBI double in game three of the American League Championship Series defeated the New York Yankees 5–4.
His impressive 2009 playoff offensive statistics became important in his 2010 arbitration hearings. In spite of poor regular season stats (.211 average), he used his strong playoff offensive performance and excellent defensive skill to bolster his case for a raise to $1.3 million, beating the Angels management in arbitration. The arbitration hearing was also something of a watershed in the amount of consideration paid to Mathis' defensive statistics. The LA Times highlighted the stark comparisons with competing catcher Mike Napoli: "in 657 innings with the agile Mathis behind the plate, Angels pitchers had a 3.99 earned-run average; they had a 4.86 ERA in 758 innings with Napoli catching. Mathis also caught 17 of 69 attempted base-stealers for a 24.6% success rate; Napoli, who will make $3.6 million in 2010 but is coming off two 20-homer seasons, caught 13 of 87 attempted base-stealers for a 14.9% success rate." Mathis has been among the AL leaders in pitchers' earned run averages while he's been behind the plate.
In 2010, Mathis was ranked by at least one website as the worst defensive catcher in baseball. He also matched his career-worst batting average of .194, while posting a sub-.500 OPS in over 200 at bats.
Toronto Blue Jays (2012)
9 days later, Mathis signed a contract with the Blue Jays to avoid arbitration. He signed a one-year deal and is guaranteed to earn $1.5 million. Mathis made his first career pitching appearance in a game against the Texas Rangers on May 25. Pitching in the 8th inning, Mathis gave up a hit and walked a batter, but ended the inning without surrendering a run. He became the sixth position player for the Blue Jays to pitch in a game, and the first since Mike McCoy on June 11, 2011. He made a second pitching appearance exactly two months later, mopping up in a 16-0 loss against Oakland. In that game, Mathis gave up 3 hits and 2 runs (both earned) in 1 inning of work.
On August 14, 2012, Mathis was signed to a two-year contract extension worth $3 million. It also includes a 2015 club option worth $1.5 million. Mathis was hitting .215 with 6 home runs over 147 plate appearances at the time of extension. 
Miami Marlins (2013–present)
On November 19, 2012, Mathis was traded to the hometown team Miami Marlins along with Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Álvarez, Yunel Escobar, Jake Marisnick, Anthony DeSclafani, and Justin Nicolino, in exchange for Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, José Reyes, John Buck, and Emilio Bonifacio. Mathis is expected to serve as the back-up to Rob Brantly.
In his first pre-season game with the Marlins on February 23, 2013, Mathis broke his collarbone on a foul tip hit by Matt Holliday. He is the only catcher with major-league experience besides Brantly, and was expected to miss 6 weeks. Mathis made his season debut on May 16, going 0–4 with 2 strikeouts.
- DiGiovanna, Mike (February 20, 2010). "Angels' Jeff Mathis wins arbitration hearing, and $1.3-million salary". Los Angeles Times.
- Spencer, Lyle (February 20, 2010). "Mathis out to ride late-season success". MLB.com.
- "Blue Jays sign McGowan, Litsch, Mathis to 1-year contracts". CBC News. December 12, 2011.
- Cruz has 8 RBIs, Rangers power past Blue Jays 14-3
- Mathis signs extension
- "MLB approves mega-deal between Blue Jays and Marlins". TSN.ca. November 19, 2012. Retrieved November 19, 2012.
- Spencer, Clark (February 23, 2013). "Miami Marlins backup catcher Jeff Mathis breaks collarbone". Miami Herald.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)