The Cleveland Guardians won't be participating in this season's playoffs. However, fans have kept their eyes on one former player. Austin Hedges, who joined the Pittsburgh Pirates in the past season, moved to the Texas Rangers close to the deadline.
Texas clinched a victory against the Houston Astros in the final game of the ALCS. With this win, the Rangers, including Hedges, are set to compete in the 2023 World Series. They await their opponents, who will be either the Philadelphia Phillies or the Arizona Diamondbacks. These two teams will face off in Game Seven of the NLCS on Tuesday evening.
Jonah Heim serves as the main catcher for the Rangers. This means Hedges has had limited opportunities to play during the playoffs. To date, he hasn't had a chance to bat in the postseason. However, he remains a valuable team member in the dugout and is an essential part of the roster.
Hedges might not be celebrated for his ability to score, but he's among the top defensive catchers in the sport. According to Baseball Savant, he's in the top 10% when it comes to making outs beyond what's expected and in the top 2% for his skill in framing pitches.
In 2023, fans of the Guardians came to realize the significance of the defense, more than they had initially assumed.
Hedges moved to Cleveland from the San Diego Padres during a significant trade involving Mike Clevinger in the chaotic 2020 season. For over two years, he played as the catcher for the Indians/Guardians. However, after the 2022 season, the team chose to pursue a new path.
The management team was keen on having a catcher with a stronger offensive play. As a result, they finalized a one-year contract with Mike Zunino. However, by June, they decided to place him on the designated for assignment list.
Even in Cleveland, Hedges has a special place among the fans. He's known for his warm personality and for wholeheartedly accepting the city and its supporters when he was in Ohio.
Undoubtedly, a group of Guardians followers will root for Hedges to secure a championship in the 2023 World Series.