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.
BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com writer
Designated hitter isn’t an easy position to play, even though in theory you’d think it would be. You can relax during the fielding portion of the game, and wait your turn to hit.
Historically this hasn’t been proven true. DH requires an adjustment that most everyday players will struggle to adapt, as it requires a different routine both mentally and physically. Some guys are cut out for it, some aren’t. And now, with the position being used to utilize platoon matchups, there are very few full time DHs. Thankfully there are enough to put together a top five list, so enjoy.
The rookie slugger was dealt this offseason from the Yankees to the Mariners for young flamethrower Michael Pineda, a rare trade of raw talent for raw talent. All the reports over the last several years indicated that Montero didn’t have what it took to be a full-time catcher, and was projected as a DH going forward. He moves from a friendly hitting park in the Bronx to the spacious and cavernous Safeco Field. Montero has power to all fields and most importantly, the opposite field as a right handed batter. The projection system ZiPS says that Montero will hit .257/.322/.438 with 21 home runs and 68 RBI. Consider the fact that Montero will be facing tough competition in Los Angeles and Texas, having to hit the majority of his games in a tough park, and the fact that the Mariners have ranked last in runs scored in the AL the past three seasons. Either way, Montero should far appropriately in his first go around, maybe not Eric Hosmer good, but still good.
Yes, we know that Dunn had one of the worst seasons in recent memory (any way you slice it; a .159 batting average is wretched.) Dunn has been pretty easy to project throughout his career; he strikes out at a high rate, walks at a high rate, and hits around 40 homers per season. Take the good with the bad and he’s been a reliable run producer for the first 10 years of his career with the Reds and Nationals. A move to the White Sox and a permanent DH position didn’t aide his usual stats, but a lack of adjustment in all phases of his game produced a pathetic 11 home runs in nearly 500 plate appearances. What’s even stranger is that he had 75 walks to 66 hits! I wonder how often that happens. Is there hope on the horizon for Mr. Dunn? We believe so, as these types of drastic regressions hardly ever happen, so you’d think and hope it was an exaggerated fluke season. If the law of averages equal out, Dunn should return to a semblance of his former self. (more…)