Top 10 catchers in Major League Baseball
Baseball may not be America’s pastime anymore but it is still very popular in today’s world. Since the sport started I can only imagine people were debating player to player, team to team as we do today. This is going to be the start of a 10-part series to break down the top ten players at every position. Today I will be looking at the catchers which I believe is strong at the top but hits a sharp decline as you go through the list. Full Disclaimer: These views are my own, and they are rankings based on my criteria for a player per position in this league. The criteria looks beyond what these players can do with their baseball gloves; and includes hitting, defense, durability, potential and playing up to your contract plays no part. Let’s get started.
Honorable Mentions: Matt Wieters (BAL), Yasmani Grandal (LAD)
10: Derek Norris (SD) Age: 26 – 2015 Stats: 147 gms, .250 avg, 14 HR’s, 62 RBI’s, .305 OBP
In his first year in San Diego, Derek Norris had a solid year but really tailed off in the second half of the year. He truly flipped the switch totally on his approach from the midway point of the year. Pre all-star break, Norris was batting .233 with 11 bombs and 45 runs batted in. Now if you look at his final stats you will rise the same question as me, “Where was Derek Norris the second half of the season?” The only thing he did well in the second half was bat .278 which declined his power and run producing significantly. If he is able to duplicate his first half next year and stay consistent we could see him move up in the rankings.
9: Wilson Ramos (WAS) Age: 28 – 2015 Stats: 128 gms, .229 avg, 15 HR’s, 68 RBI’s, .258 OBP,
Ramos has been primed for a breakout year and we are still waiting on it. He has shown he can drive the ball out of the ballpark but the other aspects at the plate need to improve. His average at .229 and OBP at .258, is just not up to par. Wilson only had 21 walks in 475 plate appearances which is a walk every twenty two at bats and only hit .197 in 59 games after the all-star break. As you can see with the home runs and runs batted in, Ramos has some good pop on his bat and if he played a full season he could have definitely had around twenty home runs with seventy five runs batted in. A good power hitting catcher but not what you look for in a middle of the order hitter.
8: Jonathan Lucroy (MIL) Age: 29 – 2015 Stats: 103 gms, .264 avg, 7 HR’s, 43 RBI’s, .326 OBP
Jonathan Lucroy coming off an injury-plagued 2015 season is looking to bounce back and get back to his old form. His last two years were very respectable and I believe if he is able to stay healthy those numbers will be there. His power is not his strong suit only with a career high of eighteen, but for a catcher he usually would be in the tops in average. He posted a .280 average in 2013 and .301 in 2014, which both ranked in the top five in their respective years at the catcher position. Lucroy is also on the trade block so some new scenery may rejuvenate his career which was on the rise before last season.
7: Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) Age: 26 – 2015 Stats: 67 gms, .268 avg, 12 HR’s, 41 RBI’s, .340 OBP
Travis d’Arnaud who has been traded twice both for Cy Young Winners (Roy Halladay, R.A. Dickey) is looking to finally capitalize on his full potential. Coming up as a prospect he was known to be an offensive minded catcher and we have seen flashes, but the injuries have held him back. In 2014 Travis was sent down to the minors to regain confidence and since returning he has posted a .270 avg with 22 home runs and 73 RBI in 136 games over two seasons. If we take those numbers and play out the rest of the season those are numbers that will catch your eye as a middle of the order hitter. The potential is clearly there and this year we will see if Travis can stay healthy and continue his development to being a top flight catcher.
6: Stephen Vogt (OAK) Age: 31 – 2015 Stats: 136 gms, .261 avg, 18 HR’s, 71 RBI’s, .341 OBP
Stephen Vogt finally got significant time behind the dish and his stats show he can be an everyday catcher. Out of all catchers that qualified Vogt was top five in every statistical category listed above. As we seen with Derek Norris earlier in the countdown, Vogt only had 4 HR’s, 15 RBI’s and a .217 avg after the all-star break. This was only in 51 games but the production took a sharp decline and so did the Athletics as a team. If Vogt can put it all together we may see a late bloomer in his age 32 season.
5: Russell Martin (TOR) Age: 32 – 2015 Stats: 129 gms, .240 avg, 23 HR’s, 73 RBI’s, .329 OBP
In his first year with Toronto, Russell Martin stepped into his role exactly how they wanted him too. Martin posted a career high 23 home runs which just helped an already powerhouse Toronto offense. It wasn’t just his offense which got him on this list either. He posted a career high in caught stealing percentage at 44% which was tied for first in the MLB (Wilson Ramos.) At the expense of his power numbers, Martin’s average dropped from .290. If he is able to stabilize that average with these power numbers, it will be a scary sight in Toronto.
4: Yadier Molina (STL) Age: 33 – 2015 Stats: 136 gms, .270 avg, 4 HR’s, 61 RBI’s, .310 OBP
If there was to be one true veteran on this list, I would go with Yadi who has done it at a high level his whole career. Some people might think this is a little high for him but I believe his best days are behind him. Molina’s defense did not take a hit at all but his offense has continued to decline over the past two years along with a rash of injuries. His bat speed may be down but we will see if Yadier can stay healthy and get back to his excellence.
3: Brian McCann (NYY) Age: 31 – 2015 Stats: 135 gms, .232 avg, 26 HR’s, 94 RBI’s, .320 OBP
The Yankee backstop is held down by the Silver Slugger and homerun leader at this position, Brian McCann. He put up numbers that are pretty standard for him with a minimum 20+ homers and 75 RBI’s. McCann helped put the Yankees offense second in runs and fourth in home runs. Now if you were to imagine him playing 150+ games he could have entered the 30 homer, 100 RBI club which would have been the first time for a catcher since 2003 when Jorge Posada did it, also in a Yankees uniform. The Yankees are going to need McCann to keep these run producing numbers up for the 2016 season to stay afloat in the very competitive AL East.
2: Salvador Perez (KC) Age: 25 – 2015 Stats: 142 gms, .260 avg, 21 HR’s, 70 RBI’s, .280 OBP
Your World Series MVP comes in on the countdown one slot from the top. Salvador Perez continued to show his excellence at the plate and behind the dish. He was able to get his third consecutive Gold Glove and keep steady at the plate. He posted a career high 21 homers on his way to a World Series title. Perez is just so steady on both sides and he is only getting better going into his age 26 season. I expect continued improvement for Salvador to remain in the conversation for best catcher.
1: Buster Posey (SF) Age: 28 – 2015 Stats: 150 gms, .318 avg, 19 HR’s, 95 RBI’s, .379 OBP
I believe that the decision to put Buster Posey number one is pretty unanimous across the league. He led all catchers in average, hits and RBI’s on his way to another stellar season. Buster finished with 177 hits and the closest to him was 138 (Salvador Perez.) This was his second straight season with a .300 average and over the past four seasons combined his average is .315. The former MVP is the clear cut best catcher in the MLB and shall continue to be for a long time barring another bad injury.
Hardest debate: Choosing #2 or #3 between Brian McCann and Salvador Perez
Now that the list is complete, I would love to hear some feedback and your opinion on the catcher position.
Next up: First Base
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