Pitchers and Catchers
In ten days, pitchers and catchers will report to their spring training facilities for their first workouts. We understand that watching Clayton Kershaw or David Price stretch their hammies and elbows may be TOO exciting for you. Pitchers and catchers merely serves as a nice reminder that the spring, and baseball, is right around the corner. But, I mean, who’s counting? We don’t expect you to tune into Kershaw’s 40 pitch work out. Or Yadier Molina’s tobacco spitting techniques. But, we’re obviously taking this opportunity to talk baseball. More specifically, pitchers and catchers. This week, we will discuss catchers.
Last season produced an offensively mediocre group of catchers. Only 3 catchers hit over .300, and only 6 hit over .250. To put that in perspective, out of the top hitters in 2016, once you pass Yadier Molina, Wilson Ramos, JT Realmuto, you have to scroll all the way down to number 38 to find the next best offensive catcher, Jonathon Lucroy. Think that’s bad? This was the first season, since 2012 where 3 or more catchers hit over .300. Does this tiny spike in catchers indicate a positional surge for the next coming years? Or will we see catchers return to their sub-par offensive play. I believe catchers are on a rise, and here are my top targets.
The 34 year old Puerto Rico catcher, Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals has been as consistent as can be. He’s eclipsed .300 four times over the past six seasons, and from 2009–2015, Molina was named to six consecutive All Star games. He’s coming off a stellar 2016 season, that included a .307 bating average (8th in the NL, 1st amongst catchers), and will look forward to a prosperous offensive season in the 2017 campaign.
Another catcher to look out for is Wilson Ramos of the Tampa Bay Rays. Ramos’ amazing ’16 season was cut short when he tore his ACL in September. But that wasn’t before the 2016 All Star and Silver Slugger hit a whopping .307 with 22 home runs and 80 RBI’s. Ramos’ 2017 campaign will be delayed due to his injury. However, after signing with the Tampa Bay Rays in this past offseason, Ramos will benefit from the Designated Hitter position as he will be eased back into playing time. Look out for another great season from the 7-year veteran.
JT. Realmuto. Who? If you had to spell-check that name, you’re not alone. The 25 year old Miami Marlins catcher saw a pleasant spike in his stats this season. His batting average jumped 44 points to a surprising .303. He tallied 154 hits and 11 home runs in his 137 games. Look out for the young catcher to see more playing time leading to an even better ’17 campaign.
During last seasons frenzied trade deadline, Jonathon Lucroy was shipped from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Texas Rangers. The 2016 NL All Star didn’t let the new workspace affect his job. Lucroy finished off the season with a resounding .292 batting average, 24 home runs and 81 RBI’s. He ranked 7th in the NL for batting average, and 8th for on base percentage (.373). Similar to Ramos, look for Lucroy to benefit from the American League’s DH position.
How can we forget Buster Posey? The 2012 NL MVP was the first catcher to win the NL award since Johnny Bench did in 1972. Last year was a down season, for Posey’s standards at least. He finished the season with a .288 batting average and only 14 home runs. Like Molina, consistency is part of Posey’s lifestyle. He’s hit over .300 four times in the past seven seasons, and hasn’t hit under .284 in a full season. Posey brings a strong sense of power- consistently hitting around 19 home runs and 80 RBI’s. Look for another surge in Posey’s offense this upcoming season.