He may not have been flashy, but Jose Lobaton provided depth for the Washington Nationals for four years as a backup catcher.
The past two years the Washington Nationals have utilized a platoon at the catching position. Prior to Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki sharing the duties, they employed a true backup catcher by the name of Jose Lobaton.
Let me throw some names out there for you: Robert Fick, Jesus Flores, and Wil Nieves. All true backup catchers who paid their dues in the league, and spent time with the Nationals.
Acquired prior to the 2014 season with Felipe Vazquez and Drew Vettleson for Nate Kearns, Lobaton slid right into the backup catcher role behind Wilson Ramos.
Sandy Leon was also on the roster, though the Nationals wanted someone who had more experience to provide depth behind Ramos.
And provide depth Lobaton did.
He wasn’t a home run hitter. He didn’t hit for a great average. He called a decent game and could handle a pitching staff, and threw out one in every four attempted base stealers.
If there was ever a guy who put on his hard hat, grabbed his lunch pail, and went to work, it was Jose Lobaton.
For three years Lobaton backed up Ramos before spending time as Matt Wieters understudy in his final year with the team. On the surface, the statistics he put up were less than inspiring. He hit .210 with 12 home runs and 51 runs batted in.
Aside from the six errors he committed in 2017, his defense was good and proved to be the backstop the Nationals needed when the starters were taking a breather.
After the 2017 season, he was allowed to walk in free agency. The Nationals decided to go with a younger catcher, Pedro Severino, as the backup.
Lobaton would play one more year in the majors, with the New York Mets, before signing a string of minor league contracts. He spent time with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs organizations this year before ultimately being released last week.
The common fan won’t remember his time with the Nationals, though the die hard fan will. Thank you, Jose Lobaton, for your contributions to The District.