Top 10 Catchers For 2016

by Rocco Constantino | Posted on Friday, February 12th, 2016
Facebook Twitter Plusone

mlb_allmlb_01

With the end of the NFL season upon us, the Baseball Hot Corner team brings back the Top 10 at each position series as we get closer to pitchers and catchers reporting. Today we’ll highlight catcher, where an exciting mix of veterans and rising stars populate the position.

Honorable Mentions:

15. Blake Swihart – Boston Red Sox

14. Stephen Vogt – Oakland A’s

13. Miguel Montero – Chicago Cubs

12. Yasmani Grandal – Los Angeles Dodgers

11. Matt Wieters – Baltimore Orioles

10. Derek Norris – San Diego Padres

San+Diego+Padres+Photo+Day+tTwZh0a8YXTl

Derek Norris comes into his age 27 season after establishing career highs in 2016 in games played (147), home runs (14), RBIs (70), hits (129), runs (65) and doubles (33).  Norris jumps into the top 10 based largely on his reliability, as he was among the Major League leaders in games played among catchers.  Norris doesn’t do anything spectacular behind the dish or at the plate, but he’s a veteran hitter who is also able to handle a pitching staff.  The 2014 All Star led the majors with 44 runners caught stealing and completed seven double plays from behind the plate.  His range factor per nine innings of of 9.07 was good for 5th in the National League and Norris was second in the NL with 79 assists at catcher.  He gets knocked down a bit as he allowed a Major League-leading 13 passed balls, but reliability at the catcher position is a huge benefit for any Major League team, especially one with such a young staff.

 

9. Yan Gomes – Cleveland Indians

Yan Gomes

After a 2014 season in which Yan Gomes was the Silver Slugger recipient in his first season as a primary catcher, there were high expectations for the Brazilian-born backstop in 2015.  However, injuries limited Gomes to just 95 games in 2015.  When he was on the field, Gomes continued to produce at the plate while providing the Indians with solid defense.  The active Gomes was second in the American League with an 8.84 range factor per game and was third in the league in double plays despite missing close to 70 games.  Gomes’ offensive production dipped in 2015, but his 20 homer, 80 RBI potential cannot be ignored.  The biggest detriment to Gomes’ game is his lack of walks, as the free-swinger received just 13 free passes in 389 plate appearances last year.  Like Norris, Gomes is a solid leader and his work with the Indians young power staff can’t be ignored.

8. Jonathan Lucroy – Milwaukee Brewers

Jonathan Lucroy. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Jonathan Lucroy. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

As with Yan Gomes, Jonathan Lucroy’s rise to stardom took a pit stop in 2015 as injuries limited him to 103 games.  Even so, Lucroy’s offensive potential makes him one of the top backstops in the game coming into 2016.  Between 2012-2014, Lucroy batted .297 and averaged 32 doubles and 70 RBIs as one of the top contact hitting catchers in the game.  The Brewers star was destined for a solid spot in the top three after finishing fourth in the American League MVP voting in 2014, but playing through injuries took a toll on his offensive production.  Lucroy’s average slipped to .264 in 2015 and his OPS dropped .120 points to .717 last year.  Even so, his production over the previous three seasons still leads Brewers fans to remain hopeful for a turnaround going into 2016

7. Brian McCann – New York Yankees

<a rel=

The veteran Yankee catcher remains one of the top offensive threats at the position coming into the 2016 season.  Last year, the lefty-hitting All-Star established  a new career high with 26 home runs and remained a productive run producer with 97 RBIs.  McCann’s .232 average was .036 points off his career batting average and his OPS of of .756 was close to .050 points less than his career average as well.  In addition to his offensive production, McCann consistently placed in the top five in the AL in most defensive statistics at the position.  McCann’s importance as a veteran leader was also recognized as he received recognition in the MVP voting for just the second time in his career.  Coming into 2016, expect McCann to continue to take advantage of the lefty hitter-friendly confines of Yankee Stadium.  McCann was the Silver Slugger Award winner at the position for the AL in 2015, the sixth time he has won the award in his career.

6. Francisco Cervelli – Pittsburgh Pirates

yankees-spring-training

Stuck behind the All-Star Brian McCann, Francisco Cervelli thrived in a full-time role after he was dealt to the Pirates for reliever Justin Wilson before the 2015 season.  Cervelli’s high-energy style fit perfectly with the Pirates as he quickly became a fan favorite in his first season as a primary catcher.  Cervelli’s batting average hovered at or around .300 all season after a torrid stretch through May and June when he batted .391 over a four week span.  Cervelli’s style of play beckons back to Jason Kendall‘s finest seasons as he is a high-contact, low-power option at bat.  The fiery Cervelli led all National League catchers with 82 assists, but also led the majors with 101 stolen bases allowed.  If Cervelli is able to build on his 2015 season, and all indications are that he should, he could find himself an All-Star in 2016 come July.

5. Travis d’Arnaud – New York Mets

travis_d_arnaud_640x360_4rrafkks_n2stdl19

Coming into his age 27 season, Travis d’Arnaud has developed into one of the best all-around catchers in the sport when he is able to stay healthy.  The big problem is that he has had issues staying on the field throughout his major and minor league career.  In 2015, d’Arnaud played just 67 games in the regular season, but was incredibly productive when he was on the field.  Despite playing just a little more than one-third of the season, d’Arnaud hit 12 home runs and drove home 41 runs while hitting 14 doubles.  Projected over a full season, nobody would be surprised if d’Arnaud finally realized his full potential and approached 25 home runs and 100 RBIs.  D’Arnaud’s .825 OPS shows that he projects as one of the top offensive catchers in the sport.  Although he is known as one of the best pitch-framers in baseball, d’Arnaud struggles throwing out runners and if he hopes to jump to the elite level of the position, he needs to improve drastically there.

4. Russell Martin – Toronto Blue Jays

Russell Martin

Russell Martin was somewhat overshadowed in Toronto’s historic 2015 lineup, but his offensive production was among the best at his position in the sport.  Martin batted just .240, but belted 23 home runs while driving in 77 runs in 129 games last season.  The four-time All-Star has received MVP votes in each of the past three seasons.  What separates Martin from the rest of the stars in the game is that he led the Majors with a 44.4 percentage throwing out potential base stealers last season.  It was the third straight season Martin placed in the top four in runners caught stealing.

3. Yadier Molina – St. Louis Cardinals

Yadier Molina

For years, Yadier Molina was a slam dunk as one of the top two catchers in baseball.  He still remains an elite option behind the plate after his seventh straight season in which he was an All-Star and Gold Glove winner.  Molina’s average dipped to a still-respectable .270 last season as he battled through a thumb injury that sapped him of his power.  Molina has never struck out 60 times in any season, but his power numbers dipped to just four home runs and 23 doubles last season.  His .660 OPS was .073 points below his career average and he has not received any MVP votes the past two seasons after finishing fourth in the voting in 2013.  The Platinum Glove winner in each of the past two seasons still hangs on to his spot as the second best overall player at his position in the National League.

2. Salvador Perez -Kansas City Royals

130416110917-salvador-perez-getty2-single-image-cut

Just 25 years old, Salvador Perez is on a path to become the best catcher in the sport once age and position changes start to effect his contemporaries.  Already a three-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner, Perez has also established himself as a clutch performer the past two seasons.  After batting .364 in last season’s Fall Classic, Perez was named the World Series MVP after leading the Royals to their first World Series title in three decades.  He finished 2015 with a career-high 21 home runs while reaching 25 doubles and 70 RBIs for the third straight season.  Behind the plate, Perez has been an absolute bulldog since moving into a full-time role.  Over the past two seasons, Perez has played in 292 regular season games and 31 more in the postseason.  He was second in the AL with 29 runners caught stealing and led the league with 90 assists and 10 double plays turned at the position.

1. Buster Posey – San Francisco Giants

Posey 1

Ever since he was picked fifth overall in the 2008 MLB Draft, Buster Posey has been ticketed for elite status at the catcher position.  Coming into 2016, he remains the best overall catcher in the sport, even though he is ticketed for extended play at first base as well.  Posey continued his fantastic contact and power production in 2015 when he batted .318 with 19 home runs and 95 RBIs.  His .849 OPS is incredibly productive at whatever position he plays and he struck out a career-low 52 times in 2015.  After the season, he earned the Silver Slugger Award at catcher for the second straight season.  Behind the plate, Posey was fourth in the NL with 67 assists despite playing a number of games at first base and DH as well.  He was also seventh with a 6.1 WAR for all position players last season.  Posey finished ninth in the NL MVP voting last season as well.  In every way, shape and form, Buster Posey is thebest catcher in the sport.

Facebook Twitter Plusone
Rocco Constantino
About the Author

Rocco is the author of 50 Moments That Defined Major League Baseball (Available on Amazon now!) and former Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. He is also a die hard Mets fan going back to the awful early 80's and ready for the revival. D2 NCAA softball coach and athletics administrator. Follow Rocco on Twitter @mlb100years.







if ( function_exists( 'pgntn_display_pagination' ) ) pgntn_display_pagination( 'multipage' );