Victor Caratini was expected to be the backup catcher behind Austin Nola when he was acquired along with Yu Darvish last offseason from the Chicago Cubs. However, Nola wasn’t able to stay healthy very much so Caratini had to step up and increase his workload.
That was probably a contributing factor to Caratini’s slight decline in performance as the season went on because he wasn’t used to catching this many innings behind Willson Contreras in Chicago. The most games Caratini had played in prior to this season was 95 in 2019. He ended up playing 116 games (+21 game difference) in 2021.
In those 116 games, Caratini hit just .227 with seven home runs and 39 runs batted in.
The 28-year-old came over from the Cubs because he was Darvish’s personal catcher but he’d end up being remembered for catching another pitcher on a Friday night in April: Joe Musgrove. Caratini caught every pitch of Musgrove’s historic no-hitter on April 9, 2021—the first no-no in Padres franchise history. Brighten up your day by watching the best moment of the Padres disappointing 2021 season:
Unless Caratini catches the final out of an NL Pennant or World Series victory, he’s going to be remembered for jumping into Musgrove’s arms after the completion of the no-hitter. It was such a cool moment for every fan and just gives me chills thinking about it.
The only other moment he could be remembered for was hitting the walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Cincinnati Reds on Re-Opening Day at Petco Park this year. Let’s re-live the moment:
We knew that Caratini wasn’t going to provide much offense to the team but it was still startling to see that there was such a lack of driving in runs from him in 2021. After totaling at least ten RBI in each of the first two months of the season, Caratini didn’t drive in more than seven runs in any month the rest of the way. He drove in five runs in July and August combined.
It was still a career-high in RBI for Caratini (39) but that was because he played more games than he ever has in a big league uniform. He finished 23rd in RBI among all catchers who made at least 200 plate appearances this season. Some of the catchers he was behind were Detroit’s Eric Haase (61), Pittsburgh’s Jacob Stallings (53), former Padre Luis Torrens (47), and Colorado’s Elias Diaz (44).
With that said, Caratini was solid defensively, as expected. He made two errors all year at the catching position and caught 18% of baserunners trying to steal on him.
As for his future, Caratini is under contract for the next two seasons so you should expect him to stay in San Diego until Darvish makes a decision regarding his future with the team.