Mathis with the Texas Rangers in 2019
|Texas Rangers – No. 2|
|Born: March 31, 1983|
|August 12, 2005, for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim|
|MLB statistics |
(through 2019 season)
|Runs batted in||277|
Jeffrey Stephen Mathis (born March 31, 1983) is an American professional baseball catcher for the Texas Rangers of Major League Baseball (MLB). He has previously played in MLB for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Toronto Blue Jays, Miami Marlins, and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Early life and education
At Marianna High School, Mathis played both football and baseball, 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.
Minor League career
Mathis was a first round draft selection by the Angels out of high school in 2001, which he accepted in lieu of attending Florida State University. He 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
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, who later became a very offensive-minded catcher that transitioned to being a first baseman and designated hitter due to his defensive shortcomings.
In 2008, Mathis batted just .194, below the Mendoza Line.
Mathis hit an 11th-inning walk-off RBI double in game three of the 2009 American League Championship Series, that 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 had been among the AL leaders in pitchers' earned run averages while behind the plate.
In 2010, Mathis was ranked by Beyond the Box Score as one of the worst defensive catchers 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
Nine days later, Mathis signed a contract with the Blue Jays to avoid arbitration. He signed a one-year deal and was 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 included a 2015 club option worth $1.5 million. Mathis was hitting .215 with six home runs over 147 plate appearances at the time of extension.
On November 19, 2012, Mathis was traded to the 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 was expected to serve as the back-up to Rob Brantly.
In his first spring training game with the Marlins on February 23, 2013, Mathis broke his collarbone on a foul tip hit by Matt Holliday. He was 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. On June 30, he hit a walk-off grand slam against Tyson Ross of the San Diego Padres to give Miami the win, 6–2. On November 1, 2014, the Marlins exercised their $1.5 million 2015 option on Mathis.
On December 18, 2015, Mathis re-signed with the Marlins on a 1-year deal worth $1.5 million. He hit his third career grand slam (first since 2013) in a June 14, 2016 game against the San Diego Padres.
Mathis signed a two-year, $4 million deal, with the Arizona Diamondbacks on December 5, 2016. During the 2017 season, he appeared in 60 games with the Diamondbacks, batting .215 with two home runs and 11 RBIs. He hit .200 with 1 home run and 20 RBI in 2018.
On November 15, 2018, Mathis signed a two-year deal, with the Texas Rangers. In 2018, Mathis hit .158/.209/.224/.433 with 2 home runs and 12 RBI over 86 games, but still helped Lance Lynn and Mike Minor to finish top 10 in AL Cy Young Award votings. He is expected to be working in tandem with Robinson Chirinos, a more offensive-minded catcher.
After leaving the Angels, Mathis became a heavily defensive catcher who excels in framing and catching base stealers, he was a preferred catcher to Jose Fernandez and Zack Greinke, despite being amongst the league worst in many batting statistics.
- Blustein, Larry (21 April 2005). "A RISING ANGEL: Catcher Jeff Mathis". scout.com. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
- Riley, Sid (13 March 2014). "Jeff Mathis Starts 9th Year As A Major League Catcher". Jackson County Times. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
- "Jeff Mathis". Baseball-Reference.com. 1 November 2014. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
- MLB.com[permanent dead link]
- 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.
- Klaassen, Matt (10 November 2010). "2010 Beyond the Box Score Catcher Defense Rankings". SB Nation. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
- Baasch, Ryan (4 December 2011). "Toronto Blue Jays Acquire Jeff Mathis". Blue Jays 101. Archived from the original on 24 June 2016. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
- "Blue Jays sign McGowan, Litsch, Mathis to 1-year contracts". CBC News. December 12, 2011.
- Associated Press (26 May 2012). "Cruz has 8 RBIs, Rangers power past Blue Jays 14-3". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
- Links, Zach (14 August 2012). "Blue Jays Sign Jeff Mathis To Extension". MLB Trade Rumors. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
- "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.
- Baer, Bill (November 1, 2014). "Marlins exercise $1.5 million option on Mathis". hardballtalk.nbcsports.com. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
- Frisaro, Joe (December 18, 2015). "Mathis returning to Marlins on one-year deal". MLB.com. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
- Spencer, Clark (15 June 2016). "Jeff Mathis grand slam propels Marlins to 5-2 victory over Padres". Miami Herald. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
- T.R. Sullivan (November 20, 2018). "Rangers sign veteran catcher Mathis". MLB.com. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
- T.R. Sullivan (September 26, 2019). "Mathis done for 2019, as '20 decisions await". MLB.com. Retrieved September 27, 2019.
- Jeff Mathis Can't Hit, but He's Good for Baseball | Baseball Bits, retrieved 2020-02-17
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