Greetings Cubs Fans
The Cubs finished the first half of the 2019 season with a record of 47-43 and a one game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers. At times, they played really well and other times it looked somewhat sloppy. I think we can all agree that the bullpen has been a little shaky and hopefully in the second half of the season the pitching will improve.
In this post, I’m going to talk a little about one of my favorite players, Willson Contreras. Specifically, I’m going to answer the question, is Willson Contreras a good outfielder?
Who is Willson Contreras?
Wikipedia says, “Willson Eduardo Contreras is a Venezuelan professional baseball catcher for the Chicago Cubs of Major League Baseball.” Willson was born on May 13, 1992, in Puerto Cabello, Carabobo, Venezuela. He has a brother, William, who also plays baseball and is a catcher in the Atlanta Braves organization currently playing for the Southern League Double-A Mississippi Braves.
Willson signed with the Chicago Cubs as an international free agent in 2009. Then, in 2009 he played for the Dominican Summer League Cubs batting .205 in 29 games. In 2010, he played in 17 games and batted .313 in the Summer League.
In 2011 and 2012 Willson played for the Boise Hawks, the Colorado Rockies Class A short season team and in 2013 he was a member of the Kane County Cougars, the Arizona Diamondacks Class A Affiliate. In 2014, he played for the Daytona Cubs (now the Daytona Tortugas) of the high Class A Florida State League.
The next stop for the Cubs catcher was the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs Double-A Affiliate). While with the Smokies in 2015 he batted .333 and slugged 8 home runs. He was also named the Chicago Cubs Minor League Player of the Year. Then, on June 17, 2016, Willson got the call up to the major league team, Chicago Cubs. On June 19th he made his major league debut and hit a two-run home run on the first pitch he saw.
Let’s look at Willson Contreras as an outfielder
By now, we all know Willson is one of the best catchers in baseball. In fact, so far in the 2019 season, he has thrown out 11 base runners attempting to steal a base. His caught stealing percentage is 31% compared to the leagues caught stealing percentage of 27%.
He has such a quick release behind the plate that runners on first base always need to be aware of the possibility that Contreras will throw behind them after a pitch. In 2018 Willson picked off 8 runners with his accurate throwing arm.
It’s no secret that Cubs Manager Joe Maddon likes his players to be versatile and have the ability to play more than one position. Ben Zobrist was probably the most versatile, unfortunately, he’s not with the team now. Kris Bryant can play 3rd base, 1st base, and outfield.
Willson Contreras has had several opportunities to play different positions each year since 2016. In 2016, he started 21 games in left field and 2 games at 1st base. That year he also started 41 games at the catcher position. All of this after coming up to the big league club in June.
In 2017 Contreras started 91 games at catcher, 3 games in left field and 1 game at 1st base. 2018 he started 123 games at catcher and played in 5 games in left field and 1 game at 1st base. So far this year, Wilson has started 69 games at catcher and 1 game in right field.
My idea for this post came on July 3rd of this year when Contreras made his first start in right field against the Pittsburgh Pirates. I personally had not seen him play in the outfield yet so knowing he has such a strong arm I made sure I watched the game.
I’m glad I did because in the bottom of the 8th inning and the Cubs winning 5-4, Jose Osuna hit a single to right field. Willson fielded the ball and came up throwing a rocket to catcher Victor Caratini who tagged Melky Cabrera who was trying to score and tie the game. @statcast, had Willson’s cannon throw at 96.7 MPH.
My personal perspective of outfielder Willson Contreras
There have been so many Cubs players over the years that I’ve followed and respected for not only their baseball skills but their character as citizens as well.
Maybe it’s Willson’s passion and love of the game of baseball that I admire most. It shows every time he steps on the field. Or, maybe it’s his desire to give back to his home country of Venezuela.
Check out this interview with Kelly Crull of NBC Sports Chicago.
Watch the story of Willson and his best friend Daniel
On father’s day in 2017, I was given two tickets to see the Cubs play the Nationals at Nationals Park on June 29th. We live near Richmond, Virginia, so, that is the closest stadium within driving distance for me to see the Cubs play.
We left Richmond early that morning and drove up to Washington, D.C. to be there when the gates opened. The game had a 4:00 PM start time and we were in the stadium 2 hours before first pitch. Of course, it was one of the hottest days of the summer, but, it was well worth the effort in the heat to see some players up close.
Our seats were behind home plate closer to the National’s dugout, however, we hung out along the 3rd base outfield wall for a while in hopes of getting an autograph or two. That never happened, however, I was able to get some good pictures of some players.
Before this game, I didn’t know a lot about Willson Contreras nor his throwing ability. When he walked by, heading toward the bullpen in left field, I got a good picture. A few minutes later he returned to the field and did long toss for about 20 minutes. When I say long toss it was really LONG toss. Maybe 50 to 80 yards and it was then that I knew he had a cannon for an arm.
I remember thinking, man, he would make a good outfielder as well. He runs well and has a great arm. The Cubs won that game 5-4.
When I saw Willson make that throw to gun down Melky Cabrera against the Pirates on July 3rd, I thought, there is that arm I saw throwing long toss before the game on June 29th.
Is Willson Contreras a good outfielder? My answer is yes. I know he is a great catcher and shows it every time he takes the field and plays behind the plate, however, by playing him in the outfield Joe Maddon can rest his knees some and keep him more healthy each season.
Willson has made the last two MLB All-Star teams and this year was the National League starting catcher. I look forward to watching him play for many years to come.
Also, check out my post, The Curse of The Billy Goat [Myth or Truth?]
Thanks for reading my article and please feel free to leave comments below and share on your social media platforms. I will respond to all comments as soon as possible. I look forward to hearing what you think of Willson Contreras the outfielder.