The Houston Astros are atop the baseball world after they defeated the Philadelphia Phillies, 4-2, in the 2022 edition of the Fall Classic. The Astros were able to redeem themselves after falling short in the 2019 and 2021 World Series, losing to the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves, respectively. And it's all thanks to the continued excellence of the usual suspects – Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, and Justin Verlander – along with the emergence of young star Jeremy Pena who became only the third rookie to win World Series MVP honors.
However, achieving such a feat requires the effort of the entire 26-man roster, and Astros closer Ryan Pressly, who got the final out of the series after he induced a weak flyball from Nick Castellanos, made sure to give credit to the championship squad's unsung hero in catcher Martin Maldonado.
“[Maldonado's preparation] is bar none better than anyone I’ve seen in baseball,” Pressly said, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required).
Ryan Pressly also told the story of how Maldonado stays up late during flights just to go over the scouting reports and game film just so he could get a better grasp of how to approach the opposing hitters in their next games. And no one will say that it hasn't worked, as he's posted elite defensive metrics all the while helping members of the Astros' pitching staff perform to the best of their abilities.
Martin Maldonado, now 36 years of age, has been through a lot in his career, but he has surely found a home in Houston after spending most of his career with the Brewers. In fact, it was in Milwaukee where he learned the ropes of how to prepare before games. The Astros catcher credits former Brewers pitching coach, Rick Kranitz, and teammate, Jonathan Lucroy for showing him the immense value of paying attention to details.
Despite Maldonado's less than stellar output from the plate, it's the intangibles and elite defense he provides behind the plate that has made him such an invaluable piece of the Astros' championship puzzle. No one will ever question his commitment to the team as well, especially after he reportedly played through a broken hand, an injury he suffered back in August. And with him still in town for the 2023 season, the Astros will expect more of the same from their unsung hero.