After listening to MLBN Radio this morning and their comparisons of the Braves and Nats I thought during this slow time it would be nice to have a break down of each position in the NL East and rank them based on overall ability, stats, defense, and most importantly MY EYES!!! (Now they can even post this on MMO).
Today we take a look at the Catcher position.
Coming in dead last is not who you would expect.
#1 Brian McCann: Old Man McCann will turn 28 here in a few days. Looking at him and how long he has been one of the Braves leading hitters you would think he is in his mid-30′s. Unfortunately for the Braves at times he plays like it as well. Catching is catching and it takes its toll but make no doubt McCann is still the class of the NL East. 6 straight All-star selections, 5/6 years Silver Slugger award winner, 20+ HR 5/6 years, 70 RBI+ 6/6 years, with a 122 OPS+ over that time. Last year while is games played took a hit he was still a very productive player in a lineup missing offense. Defense is starting to be a problem though. Last year he managed only a weak 22% CS with 104 total bases stolen and 133 attempted.
#2 Wilson Ramos: The 24 year old catcher may be a rising star in the NL. Last year in his first full season in the bigs he managed a 113 OPS+ with 15 HR, 22 2B and 52 RBI in just 435 PA. Over the course of a full season that would look like 20+ HR and 75+ RBI. Of course what remains to be seen is if he can handle the 600+ PA over the rigorous season. Defensively he registered a strong 32% caught stealing percentage but teams did test him a lot attempting 71 steals.
#3 Carlos Ruiz: Carlos continues to mystify projections and put up solid numbers for the Phillies. The 33 year old catcher saw a new life in 2009 after putting up a season of .219 with a .620 OPS and a 63 OPS+ in 2008. Since then he has registered 3 seasons of 105, 127 and 107. Interestingly enough, his home and away splits are relatively even so it is not that he is a product of his home confines either. It’s possible the guy learned how to hit at age 30, his one to one SO/BB ratio with a little pop reminds me a little of Paul Lo Duca. Defensively his CS ratio was a little down last year coming in at only 23%. The Phillies pitchers however do a great job overall of holding runners and limiting base-runners with only 100 steals attempted.
#4 Josh Thole: Bet you thought he would be last huh? Well almost only counts in horseshoes. There is no doubt that currently Josh is a below average catcher. Our high hopes for him were dashed last year when his .723 OPS took a dive to .690 in his first full year. The bright spots are that he still does not strike out much and managed to hit .264 with a .345 OBP, unfortunately that OBP was higher than his SLG %. So currently he is a slow version of Luis Castillo. He has also got a lot of work to do defensively. He had early issues with his game calling as well as a pitiful CS % of 22%. In other words the only thing that saves him from being dead last in the division is just how bad this next guy is.
# Dead Last John Buck: The Marlins might be better of with Joe Buck behind the plate. John has been an awful offensive catcher every year with the exception of one year in Toronto and we have seen what that place can do for your stats. While he will manage some HR with his all or nothing approach (Think of him as Rod Barajas without talent and that is saying something) he has only hit above .250 once in his career and you can guess where that was. Last year was his best in terms of OBP registering a career high .316. He has consistently averaged 3 times more strike outs than walks and in his best season offensively he topped that rate at 16 walks and 111 K’s. Factor in his 17% CS rate and you wonder, what the hell are the Marlins doing with him as their catcher when they are trying to compete for a championship. He had better handle pitchers with The Force like powers or the Marlins will be wishing they had thrown a little of their checks gone wild in that direction.