This week I will start a new series in which I will give my top 10 players for each position. MLB Network has been running a similar series which provided me with the idea. This week I will be supplying my top 10 catchers.
10. Alex Avila, DET (2011: .295 AVG, 19 HR, 82 RBI, 2010: .228 AVG, 7 HR, 31 RBI)
After a very poor season in 2010, one in which he had almost no power and barely had an OBP over .300, Avila played very well in 2011, getting both an All-Star selection and a Silver Slugger Award (which should have gone to Mike Napoli). He put up solid power numbers, came up just short of hitting .300, and came up just short of a .400 OBP. On top of that, Alex had a .995 fielding percentage at catcher last year, which is very, very good. Avila isn’t fantastic and hasn’t had a great career so far, but last year was good enough to have him crack the top 10, barely over Russell Martin.
9. Ramon Hernandez, COL (2011: .282 AVG, 12 HR, 36 RBI, 2010: .297 AVG, 7 HR, 48 RBI)
While Hernandez is towards the end of his career, his performance has done nothing but improve the last couple of years. After hitting below .260 from 2007-09, Ramon has upped his game, hitting .297 in 2010 and .282 in 2011, with double-digit homers last year, just the second time in the last 5 years Ramon has accomplished that feat. And Ramon hardly ever makes an error, with a .998 fielding percentage last year, while throwing out 23 of 62 base stealers.
8. Carlos Santana, CLE (2011: .239 AVG, 27 HR, 79 RBI, 2010: .260 AVG, 6 HR, 22 RBI)
After being called up in 2010 and playing well before a season-ending injury, Santana came back in 2011, and while he struggled with his batting average, he hit close to 30 home runs, and walked 97 times, giving him an OBP of .351, which is not too bad, especially for a power hitter like Santana. However, he’s not a very good fielder, with a fielding percentage below .990, and throwing out only 28% of base stealers. He has a lot to work on, but Santana is a promising up-and-coming possible superstar.
7. Yadier Molina, STL (2011: .305 AVG, 14 HR, 65 RBI, 2010: .262 AVG, 6 HR, 62 RBI)
Yadier is almost the exact opposite of Santana. Molina is a guy who can hit for a high average, batting over .290 for three of the past four seasons. However, also unlike Carlos, he doesn’t have a whole lot of pop, hitting double-digit homers just once in his career, and yet another distinction between the two is that Yady is a terrific fielder, throwing out 44% of base stealers in his career, while Santana struggles in that department. Also, Molina is a salty veteran, while Santana is still a young player.
6. Miguel Montero, ARI (2011: .282 AVG, 18 HR, 86 RBI, 2010: .266 AVG, 9 HR, 43 RBI)
Despite throwing out 40% of base stealers last season, Montero is overall not a great defensive catcher. He is however, a player capable of producing some serious runs, as in 2 of the past 3 years, Montero has had a batting average over .280 (.294, .282), and 15+ home runs (16, 18). He actually played well enough in 2011 to make his first All-Star team. Since being called up in 2006, Miguel has had a fairly up-and-down career, but seems to have solidified himself over the past three seasons, with very good years in ’09 and ’11, and a solid season in 2010.
5. Buster Posey, SF (2011: .284 AVG, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 2010: .305 AVG, 18 HR, 67 RBI)
Even though Buster hasn’t even played through an entire season in the majors yet, being called up halfway through 2010 and getting injured a quarter of the way into 2011, he still ranks #5 on my list because of what he can do when he actually does play. He played well enough in 2010 to win Rookie of the Year, with a .305 average, and very solid power numbers. He also played well in the playoffs that year. And in 2011, he was on his way to a very solid year, although not quite as good as his first one, before suffering a season-ending injury. And he’s also a very solid defensive catcher for the Giants. Posey is just an all-around great player.
4. Matt Wieters, BAL (2011: .262 AVG, 22 HR, 68 RBI, 2010: .249 AVG, 11 HR, 55 RBI)
Matt finally is starting to head towards reaching his potential, although his ceiling is quite a bit away. Wieters made his first All-Star team last year and received his first Gold Glove, while posting a decent batting average and some very solid power numbers. However, while last year was a good year, I think this year will be a great year.
3. Joe Mauer, MIN (2011: .287 AVG, 3 HR, 30 RBI, 2010: .327 AVG, 9 HR, 75 RBI)
Even though Joe has had some injury problems over the past few years, he is one of the best players in baseball when he is healthy. He has been selected to four All-Star games, has four Silver Sluggers, three Gold Gloves, and one MVP. That is a very impressive set of accolades to go along with a .323 career average. If not for injury issues, Mauer would easily be the number 1 player on the list.
2. Brian McCann, ATL (2011: .270 AVG, 24 HR, 71 RBI, 2010: .269 AVG, 21 HR, 77 RBI)
McCann, like Mauer, has an impressive set of awards/honors, as he has been named to 6 All-Star teams, and even won All-Star MVP in 2010, and has 5 Silver Sluggers. Brian has been one of the best catchers in all of baseball ever since his first full season in 2006. He has 20+ home runs in 5 of his 6 full seasons in the big leagues, and has 70+ RBIs in all of them. On top of that, he has only hit under .270 once in his seven year career. However, his poor rate of throwing out 22% of base stealers is what keeps him from being #1 on the list.
1. Mike Napoli, TEX (2011: .320 AVG, 30 HR, 75 RBI, 2010: .238 AVG, 26 HR, 68 RBI)
While Mike has hit 20+ home runs in each of the three seasons before 2011, last year was really his breakout year, as Napoli had hit .273, .272, and .238 in those years and also played subpar defense with fielding percentages of .986 in two of those three years, while throwing out just 22% of base stealers. However, in 2011, not only did Napoli’s power numbers get even better, setting career highs in home runs with 30 and RBIs with 75, but he set a career high in batting average, at .320, an astounding .092 improvement from the year before, OBP, at .414, and runs, with 72. And not only did his hitting improve, but his defense skyrocketed, as Napoli set a career high in fielding percentage at .996, while throwing out 36% of base stealers.
Come back next week for my top 10 first basemen.