Preseason Position Power Rankings: Couch Side’s top 10 catchers
BY SEAN SCHOONOVER, Couchsideshow.com blogger
Editor’s note: Couch Side is very pleased to bring back its annual MLB preseason position power rankings. This year, we will offer two positions every Wednesday and Friday. Each blog ranks the top 10 players at each position and is written by some of Couch Side’s best bloggers. The following is part two of what will be a 12-part series. Enjoy!
When identifying the top catchers of the MLB, one must consider a players defensive capability as well as their offensive ability. The catcher position is the most demanding position on the field and offense is usually the last thing on their minds, as these players have to manage full pitching staffs, mull over game plans, as well as rest their aching legs. Offensive focused catchers now days are finding more ways to get into the lineup on a daily basis, whether it is at 1B or DH. Last season only 6 catchers managed over 500 at bats, which is an improvement of only two in 2011 and one in 2010. The following list includes the 10 best catchers going into the 2013 season, starting with players 6-10 and their 2012 statistics. Players left off the list and who most likely make up the 11-15 spots include: J.P. Arencibia, Carlos Ruiz, A.J. Pierzynski, Brian McCann, and Alex Avila. With that here are your projected ten best catchers for the 2013 season:
10. Jesus Montero (SEA)- 135 GP, 134 H, 15 HR, 46 Runs, 62 RBI, .260 AVG, .298 OBP. .386 SLG, -0.2 WAR
– A tall 6’3”, slightly slow footed catcher but has the potential to hit 25 HRS and 80 RBIs
9. Jonathan Lucroy (MIL)– 96 GP, 101 H, 12 HR, 46 Runs, 58 RBI, .320 AVG, .369 OBP, .513 SLG, 3.9 WAR
– Defensively sound catcher with the ability to hit over 20 HRs with a .300 AVG
8. Wilin Rosario (COL)- 117 GP, 107 H, 28 HR, 67 Runs, 71 RBI, .270 AVG, .320 OBP, .530 SLG, 1.9 WAR
– A power hitter, whom needs improvement on the defensive side. but offensively has a lot of up-side hitting behind Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez
7. Salvador Perez (KC)- 76 GP, 87 H, 11 HR, 38 Runs, 39 RBI, .301 AVG, ,328 OBP, .471 SLG, 2.8 WAR
– Only 22 years old and known for his sound defensive ability, but it is his offensive potential that seems intriguing with his limited experience. This is hands down my sleeper for the position this year.
6. Miguel Montero (ARI)- 141 GP, 139 H, 15 HR, 65 Runs, 88 RBI, .286 AVG, .391 OBP, .438 SLG, 3.7 WAR
– Defensively sound, ranking third best in caught stealing rate last year with 42%, he is one of the best overall catchers in the game and yet does not get enough credit.
5. Matt Wieters (BAL) – 144 GP, 131 H, 23 HR, 67 Runs, 83 RBI, .249 AVG, .329 OBP, .435 SLG, 3.2 WAR
The .249 Average and 112 strikeouts are two statistics that bring Wieters down, however he still has shown the last two years that he is a well-deserved starter in one of the toughest divisions. He is one of six catchers from last year that compiled over 500 at bats, with 526 in 144 games played. The last two years have proved that Wieters is a legitimate top five catcher in the league tallying 55 HRs, to go with 151 RBIs. However, it is the defensive side that Wieters excels, being awarded golden gloves both in 2011 and 2012, throwing out an average of 38 percent of attempted base stealers for both years. The defensive piece is in place and I would not be surprised to see his offensive game take off this season.
4. Joe Mauer (MIN)- 147 GP, 174 H, 10 HR, 81 Runs, 85 RBI, .319 AVG, .416 OBP, .446 SLG, 4.1 WAR
Mauer played in 147 games in 2012 which was a career high, allowing him to rank in the top three in the league at catcher for average, RBIs and OBP. One thing that has hampered him in the past is injuries, however if he is able to stay healthy for the 2013 season I predict a very similar season as last year. One thing you will not get from Mauer is power, in his 9 years as a player he has only one season in which he hit over 20 home runs. Also, his lack in defense is the reason he is not ranked any higher than number 4, with only throwing out 14 percent of stolen base attempts in 2012. Mauer is also only projected to catch in slightly over half the games this year in which he will also see time at the 1B and DH positions, which decreases his value as a catcher immensely.
3. Carlos Santana (CLE)- 143 GP, 128 H, 18 HR, 72 Runs, 76 RBI, .252 AVG, .365 OBP, .420 SLG, 3.7 WAR
Santana has yet to live up to expectations, but he is certainly continuing to make strides. He started the 2012 season off very slow, but he was able to put up strong numbers in the second half. His power numbers dropped from 2011 to 2012 going from 27 home runs to 18, but he did increase his batting average from .239 to .252 and his on base percentage from .351 to .365. I believe that 2013 is the year that Santana will find consistency, batting behind the likes of Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher.
2. Yadier Molina (STL)- 138 GP, 159 H, 22 HR, 65 Runs, 76 RBI, .315 AVG, .373 OBP, .501 SLG, 6.7 WAR
Molina is hands down the best defensive catcher in the MLB, winning five straight Gold Gloves for the position in the National League. He has also added a large offensive attack to his game in the past two years hitting 36 home runs and 141 RBIs, as well as increasing his OBP to a career high .373. If you are looking for a true catcher Molina is your guy, to go with his five Gold Gloves he has four straight All-Star Game appearances and finished fourth in MVP voting last year. At the age of 30 Molina does not yet seem to be at his peak, as career highs have been the theme for him over the last couple of years, as he seems to be consistently topping great years with even better ones.
1. Buster Posey (SF)- 148 GP, 178 H, 24 HR, 78 Runs, 103 RBI, .336 AVG, .408 OBP, ,549 SLG, 7.2 WAR
Posey proved he is the best overall catcher if not the best player in the MLB last year by coming back from a 2011 season ending injury, to win the 2012 NL MVP. The 25 year old right-hander led the majors in 2012 with a .336 batting avg., and led all catchers with 178 hits and 103 RBIs, to go with his second World Series ring. Buster is a guy that has proven to get the job done when need be, in the last three months of last season he posted a 1.023 or better OPS, at least 21 RBIs, and a combined .371 avg, that’s what you call a BOSS.