The 10 Best Catchers Heading into the 2013 MLB Season
Deepest Position in Baseball?
I remember a time when a catcher could have an OPS around .700 and be deemed a great offensive weapon. Those days are definitely in the rearview mirror, figuring that there are legitimately twenty above replacement-level catchers in the game now. When I complied my list, I knew it would be difficult going in, figuring I was going to leave a few guys off that I felt were deserving. However, there were more than a few I left off.
Really quality catchers like AJ Pierzynski, AJ Ellis, and Wilin Rosario all had solid seasons in 2012, but I have a hard time considering them top ten guys. That, my friends, is how deep the catching position is nowadays. Heck, Brian McCann used to be a sure-fire top three catcher, now he might not be in the top fifteen.
Nevertheless, these are my top ten catchers entering the 2013 season. Outside of the top three guys, this is a list that is pretty interchangeable, figuring that a guy like Brian McCann has the chance to regain his spot in the top five. I will do second base later next week.
Let the disagreeing begin!
Of all my selections, Salvador Perez might be the one that has the most bias behind it. I watched Perez completely destroy the White Sox throughout the 2012 season, making me kind of loathe him. Hatred aside, though, Perez has the potential of becoming a main cog in the middle of Kansas City's lineup.
Although Grandal got busted for PED use, I still really, really like him going forward. Anytime a catcher can walk and hit for average like Grandal did last season, it's easy to get excited. Also, you can't really judge Grandal based on traditional statistics, considering PETCO Park swallows offensive numbers whole.
Jonathan Lucroy was in the midst of an amazing season, then he had a luggage mishap that took him out of action for a couple of months. I don't really think Lucroy is a .870 OPS guy, but he's still one of the better catching options in baseball. Another great season from Lucroy could definitely push the Brewers into the playoffs.
Matt Wieters had his second solid season in a row for the Baltimore Orioles. Although his offensive numbers decreased a tad, he still had a fWAR over 4.0.
Chooch was one of the few bright spots for the Philadelphia Phillies last season. Ruiz, unfortunately, will begin the season serving a minor suspension for PED use. Although he's still awesome, those doubts are enough to knock him down a notch or two.
I will always be a sucker for a player who draws a lot of walks, and Carlos Santana certainly gets a whole lot of them. Santana's 14.9 BB% is something that would be great at any position, but it's remarkable to get that production from a catcher. If I were a betting man, I would bet on Santana becoming a top five catcher by season's end, especially with Cleveland's improved lineup.
Montero would probably be my catcher on the all-underrated team - - he's that good. Montero was always solid prior to the 2012 season, but really broke out last season. What made Montero one of the best in the business was increasing his walk rate by three percent, giving him a .391 on-base percentage.
Do Minnesota Twins fans really hate Joe Mauer? If so, why? Mauer returned to form after a dismal 2011 season, hitting .319 with an astounding .416 on-base percentage.
I used to think Molina was one of the most overrated catchers in the game, seeing as his offensive production was pretty laughable. However, Molina improved his offensive game immensely, becoming one of the best hitting catchers in baseball. Molina set career highs in virtually every category last season, earning his multi-million dollar extension that he signed prior to the 2012 season even starting.
I almost put Molina over Posey because he isn't a full-time catcher, but I can't do baseball's Tom Brady like that. Posey has accomplished more things in his first three season than most players accomplish in a lifetime. That is why he is baseball's best catcher entering the 2013 season.