Spring Training Teasers: Couch Side’s top five catchers for 2012


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

In part two of Couch Side’s 12 part series on the best position player going into 2012, I’ll examine the MLB’s top backstops. A couple of catchers on my top five missed a big chunk of the 2011 season because of injury, but they’re both still considered two of the best in the game.

Here’s a closer look at the best from behind the dish in 2012:

Catcher Mike Napoli set career highs in batting average, homer runs and RBIs in his first season with the Texas Rangers last year. Photo by Bart Hanlon / Flickr

1. Mike Napoli, Texas Rangers

It’s weird to think a 30-year-old wouldn’t reach his prime until his career was almost halfway over, but it appears that’s the exact case for Mike Napoli. The six-year veteran set career highs in home runs, RBIs and batting average last season for the Texas Rangers and he played a key factor to their American League Championship run. The most impressive of Napoli’s personal highs last year had to have been how he hit for average. Don’t get me wrong, his power numbers were very impressive, but before last season, Napoli never hit higher that .273. In 2011, the Florida native hit an amazing .320. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Napoli yet and that’s saying a lot. It will be tough for him to make a repeat performance after an incredible 2011 season, but now that the Rangers are contenders, he’ll play with that bad taste of losing a World Series lingering in his mouth.

Photo by Baseball Backs / Flickr

 

2. Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves

McCann earns the No.2 spot on Couch Side’s top five catcher list because he owns best bat of all the National League backstops.

Any catcher who is capable of blasting 20 home runs and 70 RBIs is a manger’s dream. Where McCann lacks in defense, he makes up for in offense. He is an invaluable asset to the Atlanta Braves and a player who will stay in the Peach State for a long time. McCann also shows nothing but consistency. He has only missed the 20-home run plateau once since his sophomore season in 2006. During that same time frame, McCann also owns three 90-plus RBI seasons and his .286 career average is much better than your average catcher.

Photo by Baseball Backs / Fickr

3. Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians

In what was more or less his rookies season, catcher Carlos Santana belted 27 home runs and 79 RBIs for the Indians in 2011 — his first season as Cleveland’s everyday starter. The sky is truly the limit for this 25-year-old prodigy from the Dominican. He played in 155 games last season so he also has that iron man side to him. Look for Santana to do nothing but improve. I expect him to have at least a repeat of last season. Be on the look out for the youngster in Fantasy drafts.

San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey played in just 45 games last season. Photo By: SD Dirk / Flickr

4. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

If Posey wouldn’t have suffered a season-ending injury last year, he would’ve put up numbers similar to Santana’s. To say he can hit 27 homers may be a stretch, but I sincerely believe Posey’s power will be on the rise this season. And even if Posey doesn’t pack that particular punch, he’s already proved that he can hit for average, collecting a .305 average during his sophomore season in 2011. Posey also has the age thing going for him. At 24, the former Florida State standout has a long road ahead of him. He’s in a group of very exciting young catchers right now and like those colleagues, Posey has a very bright future. We’ll see how part two finally unfolds in 2012.

Photo by: Baseball Backs / Flickr

5. Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins

Joe Mauer lands the final spot on Couch Side’s top five MLB catchers list, putting the screws to Arizona Diamondbacks backstop Miguel Montero. While Montero had his best season in 2011, Mauer mainly spent his time rehabbing an ailing leg, which may make Mauer’s ranking seem unfair. But it’s hard to go against a former MVP, even if he only played 82 games last year. If Mauer can rediscover any sort of his former self, he should regain his MVP caliber abilities. His defense is also a step above the rest, so if all goes well with Mauer’s Rehab, look for him to be a .300 hitter once again.

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One response

  1. Brandon

    My top 5 looks like McCann, Mauer, Molina, Posey, Montero. Huge Napoli fan, but he doesn’t play enough backstop for me to consider him a legitimate “catcher” going forward. One could say the same thing for Mauer though.

    March 2, 2012 at 11:20 am

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