Mike Zunino
Mike Zunino
29-Year-Old CatcherC
Tampa Bay Rays
2020 Fantasy Outlook
The unfortunate reality here is that Zunino is a catcher without a bat. However, he is as good behind the plate as he is inept at the plate, so he should stick around for a while yet. He has a lot of power, but Zunino has poor contact skills and really has to guess right or pounce on a mistake to do any damage with pitches. The 2017 season was a clear aberration in his batting average, and any contending team has to pick and choose when to use his defense in the lineup because his bat becomes a dead zone in the order. He is one more season away from a career average below the Mendoza Line with no signs of improvement on the way. You can buy his 20-homer potential for $1 on draft day, but you would still be overpaying for what he does on your roster. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a one-year, $4.5 million contract with the Rays in November of 2019.
Offensive improvement needed
CTampa Bay Rays
May 22, 2020
Zunino is set to open an abbreviated 2020 season as the starting catcher, but he likely needs to show marked improvement at the plate if the Rays are to pick up his 2021 option, Josh Tolentino of The Athletic reports.
ANALYSIS
Zunino's .165/.232/.312 line across 289 plate appearances last season ranked as one of the worst in all of baseball, but the Rays still opted to bring him back on a one-year, $4.5 million deal for 2020. However, while Zunino's No. 3 ranking in defensive runs saved (10) last season and command of the team's pitching staff give him considerable value, Tolentino speculates he'll eventually have to provide more offensive contributions in order to hang onto his roster spot over the long term. Even Zunino's playing time in what would be an abbreviated 2020 season could be in danger if he doesn't get off to a good start offensively, considering manager Kevin Cash will likely have the luxury of holding on to Kevan Smith, Michael Perez and Chris Herrmann due to expanded rosters and a potentially sizable practice squad.
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Batting Stats
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2019
2018
2017
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2018 MLB Game Log
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2017 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
1
24
22
vs Left-Handed Pitchers
vs LHP
#1
#2
#3
#4
#5
#6
#7
#8
#9
6
4
2
8
11
Left/Right Batting Splits
Since 2017
 
 
+15%
OPS vs RHP
2019
 
 
+25%
OPS vs RHP
2018
 
 
+24%
OPS vs RHP
2017
 
 
+7%
OPS vs LHP
OPS PA R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Since 2017vs Left .636 332 37 16 28 1 .189 .262 .374
Since 2017vs Right .729 797 82 38 112 0 .220 .287 .442
2019vs Left .468 101 9 2 11 0 .154 .238 .231
2019vs Right .583 188 21 7 21 0 .171 .229 .354
2018vs Left .575 129 12 6 7 0 .167 .225 .350
2018vs Right .714 276 25 14 37 0 .217 .275 .439
2017vs Left .883 102 16 8 10 1 .253 .333 .549
2017vs Right .827 333 36 17 54 0 .250 .330 .497
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Home/Away Batting Splits
Since 2017
 
 
+7%
OPS on Road
2019
 
 
+23%
OPS at Home
2018
 
 
+35%
OPS on Road
2017
 
 
+2%
OPS on Road
OPS PA R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Since 2017Home .678 540 60 24 61 0 .205 .276 .402
Since 2017Away .724 589 59 30 79 1 .216 .284 .441
2019Home .603 139 16 5 16 0 .188 .252 .352
2019Away .489 150 14 4 16 0 .145 .213 .275
2018Home .563 188 15 5 13 0 .185 .239 .324
2018Away .761 217 22 15 31 0 .215 .276 .485
2017Home .832 213 29 14 32 0 .235 .324 .508
2017Away .848 222 23 11 32 1 .265 .338 .510
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Stat Review
How does Mike Zunino 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.
BB/K
0.20
 
BB Rate
6.9%
 
K Rate
33.9%
 
BABIP
.220
 
ISO
.147
 
AVG
.165
 
OBP
.232
 
SLG
.312
 
OPS
.544
 
wOBA
.244
 
Exit Velocity
88.2 mph
 
Hard Hit Rate
38.7%
 
Barrels/PA
6.6%
 
Advanced Batting Stats
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Additional Stats
Games By Position
Defensive Stats
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Batted Ball Stats
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Stats Vs Upcoming Pitchers
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Recent RotoWire Articles Featuring Mike Zunino
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Todd Zola continues his breakdown of last year's NFBC Main Event rosters and explains why he thinks Christian Yelich showed up on so few league-winning squads.
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83 days ago
Erik Siegrist considers the impact of MLB rule changes, both current and proposed, and wonders if bat-first catchers like Gary Sanchez could become the norm in the near future.
The Z Files: Is Average Exit Velocity on Groundballs Useful?
123 days ago
Todd Zola dives into the weeds on how the average exit velocity on groundballs impacts BABIP while also looking at other factors, such as the elite sprint speed of players like Trea Turner.
Past Fantasy Outlooks
2019
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
Tampa Bay acquired Zunino from Seattle early in the offseason. He grades out well according to most fielding metrics, meshing well with the Rays' defense- and pitching-minded philosophy. Offensively, Zunino offers plus power but little else. He's fanned in at least one-third of his plate appearances since becoming a regular in 2014. He's durable for a backstop, playing in at least 112 games four of the last five seasons. In three of those years, he's smashed at least 20 homers. It's apparent 2017 is an outlier in terms of average as Zunino hasn't come close to the .251 mark posted that season. Tampa generally plays its lead catcher a lot so expect similar numbers to those he put up with the Mariners: Mario Mendoza with 20-something homers. If you can absorb the low average, Zunino will be a fantasy asset in all formats, though low walks hurt in OBP and points leagues.
The good news is Zunino shattered his career best slash line, hitting .251/.331/.509 with 25 homers last season. The bad news is he whiffed even more than usual, setting a new low in terms of contact. The safe play is to expect BABIP regression, but will Zunino land closer to his 2017 campaign or his usual flirtation with the Mendoza Line? Since Zunino was among the league leader in barrels for the second straight season, it's plausible he figured something out, and while he still struggles to make contact, when bat meets ball it's usually squared up. Still, anyone who whiffs that much is a candidate for a long slump. Splitting the difference seems fair. Zunino's defense isn't Gold Glove caliber, but it's not a liability. Based on that, and his established power, Zunino deserves regular at-bats, thus he is draft-worthy in all formats except points leagues penalizing for strikeouts. Just be prepared for the possibility that 2017 is a complete outlier in terms of average.
Zunino's career .195 batting average, 32.4 percent strikeout rate and 16.6 percent swinging-strike rate clearly paint him as a hacker. He finally proved in 2016, however, that he can tap into the home-run upside many have been yearning for from his bat for years - along with a bit of gravy in his 10.9 percent walk rate. This progression resembled the 10.7 percent free-pass rate he showed at Triple-A last season. Of course, that happened in his third stint at the highest farm level -- so it's not entirely surprising that he conquered it. He will still whiff frequently at major-league breaking balls. Even with his flaws, however, he still carries some intrigue. Carlos Ruiz's backup duty aside, Zunino may remain the priority for playing time. Landing a backstop on the cheap with a difference-making skill could lead to a useful fantasy profit. Zunino's power fits that bill, but his batting average could cripple a roster.
After Zunino batted .199 with a .658 OPS in 2014, it was obvious he needed more time in the minors to hone his hitting skills. But there he was on Opening Day as the Mariners' starting catcher, and the next five months he caught more innings than any AL backstop other than Salvador Perez, all while flailing away at the plate. When he was finally, mercifully, sent to Triple-A in late August, Zunino's .174 batting average was on pace to be the lowest in the majors since 1892. Among players with at least Zunino's 386 plate appearances, his average ranked eighth-lowest all-time. Thankfully, Zunino will get as much time as he needs in the minors this season, as the Mariners acquired catchers Chris Iannetta and Steve Clevenger. Zunino has good power when he runs into a fastball, but he has to make better contact (62% last year) and cut his strikeouts - he led MLB with one whiff every 2.92 plate appearances (min 350 PA) - to be an everyday catcher again.
Zunino set a franchise record for home runs by a catcher last season, but it came with a .199 average, the lowest in the majors among catchers with at least 300 at-bats. More than half (44) of Zunino's 87 hits went for extra bases. Yes, Zunino can jump on a major league fastball. It's on breaking and offspeed pitches where his at-bats go to die. Zunino struck out in a third of his plate appearances last season while walking just 3.6% of the time. But he's just 24 and is still developing after being rushed to the big leagues with only 419 minor league plate appearances under his belt. The Mariners like the way he handles the pitching staff, and there is no one around to challenge him for playing time.
Zunino had a rough rookie season. Promoted in June, a broken hand in late July caused him to miss more than month. Zunino is still trying to find his way at the plate, as a steady diet of breaking and offspeed pitches proved to be his nemesis. The Mariners, though, are content to focus most of his attention on his catching for now. The Mariners could bring in a veteran catcher to tutor Zunino this year, but the team is clearly banking on him as the catcher of the future. While the 2012 No. 3 overall pick didn't make quite as big an impact as many expected last season, Zunino will have ample opportunity to make a name for himself this season. Keep an eye on him this spring and into the year – the raw power he showed last year could quickly increase his value for fantasy owners.
The 2012 Golden Spikes Award winner as the nation's top amateur player, Zunino was drafted third overall by the Mariners, who were enamored with his defense. It's been his bat, though, that has turned heads thus far - 13 homers between short-season Everett (1.210 OPS) and Double-A Jacksonville (.974 OPS) in 44 games - while his defense has caused some angst. He was said to have good hands and good agility, but he struggled blocking pitches behind the plate. Nevertheless, after a good showing in the Arizona Fall League with his bat, he goes to spring training with a shot at making the big-league club. The Mariners have only one catcher, Jesus Montero, on the roster after dealing John Jaso in January. And Montero likely will spend time again at DH, making a third catcher necessary. Zunino's bat might be ready, but his catching likely needs more polish, and the Mariners won't be quick to sacrifice essential development time. Triple-A is probably more realistic, though it won't surprise if he makes his way to Seattle at some point this season. Long-term, Zunino is clearly the catcher of the future, which also means Montero is destined for DH/1B duty.
More Fantasy News
Firm hold on starter's job
CTampa Bay Rays
April 6, 2020
Zunino has a firm hold on the starting catcher job despite having struggled at the plate both last season and this spring, Josh Tolentino of The Athletic reports.
ANALYSIS
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Tweaks swing in offseason
CTampa Bay Rays
March 3, 2020
Zunino, who slugged a three-run home run in a Grapefruit League win over the Twins on Sunday for his first round tripper of spring, made adjustments to his hitting approach this offseason, Juan Toribio of MLB.com reports.
ANALYSIS
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Remains with Rays
CTampa Bay Rays
November 25, 2019
Zunino and the Rays agreed to a one-year, $4.5 million contract Monday, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports.
ANALYSIS
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Hits ninth homer
CTampa Bay Rays
September 6, 2019
Zunino went 1-for-3 with a two-run home run in a 5-0 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday.
ANALYSIS
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Plates pair in win
CTampa Bay Rays
August 24, 2019
Zunino went 1-for-3 with a two-run single, a walk and a run in a win over the Orioles on Friday.
ANALYSIS
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