Top 10 MLB Catchers

 Playing catcher is a pain in the legs. Having to bend down in a crouch for 100+ pitches really takes a toll on the legs. That is why you don’t see base-stealing catchers very often. Since 2000, only 2 catchers have had more than 20+ steals. Jason Kendall had 22 steals in 2000 and Russel Martin had 21 in 2007. The next closest since 2000 was 18 stolen bases. The catcher has to lay down hundreds of signs in a year for the pitcher. It doesn’t matter how fast you are, but the catcher has one of the hardest positions physically and mentally.
1. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals. Yadier in my eyes is the best catcher in the MLB today. Molina is stellar on defense and over the past few years has stepped it up offensively too. But even if Yadi doesn’t always lead all catchers in home runs, his play behind the plate has already led him to 2 World Series rings (2006, 2011) and 4 Gold Gloves in 2008-2011. Yadier and his two brothers Jose and Bengie are the only trio of brothers to have each won the World Series. Yadier had a career year in 2011 when he hit his personal best 14 homers, 65 RBI’s and had a .305 AVG. Molina has great skills catching the Cardinals pitching staff and will continue to dominate the National League with his hitting and fielding. At 30 years old, Yadier can expect a good 7 more years of great baseball.
2. Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves. McCann is the best offensive catcher in the National League in my opinion. Brian has a big and strong body that allows him to crush the ball over the wall. McCann has 153 home runs to go along with 591 RBI’s in his 7 year career. Brian has certainly been recognized for his great offense. He has played in 6 All-Star Games and has earned 5 Silver Slugger awards. In the past 6 years, McCann has never ranked lower than 5th amongst MLB catchers in home runs, including leading the league several times. Sure Brian may be off to a sluggish start in 2012, but if he is not producing at the plate, he is excellent behind it. McCann only has 67 errors in 915 games played and has a career fielding percentage at .990. McCann is massive at 6’3″ and 230 lbs. and can provide clutch hits in big time situations.
3. Mike Napoli, Texas Rangers. Mike Napoli may not be most people’s third choice for the best catchers in the MLB, but I have some good reasons that could change their minds. Napoli was born on Halloween of 1981 but the only thing scary about this guy is his bat. Mike has hit 139 home runs in his career and drove in 362 as well. Napoli has the ability to play first base too, which lots of teams love. Napoli has played around 524 games behind the plate and about 130 at first base. Napoli had a great year in 2011 when he led all catchers with  30 homers and was 2nd among catchers with his .320 and third in runs with 72. Napoli doesn’t have stand out numbers with his career average but his low errors make up for the average of .260. Mike has played all of his games in the AL West with Los Angeles and Texas. If Napoli is swinging a hot bat, then other teams better be ready for when Mike Napoli steps up to the plate.
4. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants. The future looks very bright for the Giants organization thanks to their young catcher Buster Posey. Posey is only 25 years of age and has 35 homers and 149 RBI’s in his career. Buster suffered a broken ankle during a horrific collision at home plate between Posey and Scott Cousins of the Marlins in May 2011. Buster was the NL Player of the Week, Player of the Month and NL Rookie of the Year in 2011. The Giants have been using Posey at first base as well as behind the plate. In 2012 Posey is on pace for career highs in home runs and RBI’s. Posey played a big part in the Giants World Series win, and the MLB thought so too by rewarding Posey with the NL Rookie of the Year in 2011. Posey is hitting well in 2012 with his .316 batting average which is third among MLB catchers. If Buster stays healthy during the rest of 2012 and years to come, he can become a very dangerous hitter and face of the San Francisco Giant franchise.
5. Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins. Now, over the past few seasons, Mauer has not been his normal self thanks to injuries and a terrible Twins team in the past couple of years. But the Minnesota native still keeps his great average intact over the recent slumpish years. Mauer has a .324 career average to go along with around 90 home runs and 551 RBI’s. Mauer has lots of awards to show off including 4 Silver Slugger Awards, 3 Gold Gloves, 5 All Star Selections and AL MVP (2009). But one thing that really stands out is Mauer’s partaking in the 2009 MLB Home Run Derby. Yes, this is the same Joe Mauer who hit just 9 homers in 2010 and 3 in 2011. Well back in 2009, Joe smashed an amazing 28 dingers which led all major league catchers. While Mauer has yet to regain that 28 home run form, he still contributes in the hit category as well as being a motivator in the locker room. Mauer who is only 29 is known for his good looks and performances in commercials for Playstation and Head & Shoulders shampoo. As Mauer and Morneau will continue to lead the young Twins lineup, all I have left to say is “Well played Mauer”.

6. Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia Phillies. Yeah sure, Ruiz may not be the most offensive catcher in the NL, but his leadership skills and his 2012 season is enough proof that Carlos should be in my Top 10. Ruiz is one of just 9 current MLB players born in Panama. Carlos, also known as Chooch, is having a stellar 2012 year so far. Ruiz has career bests in home runs, RBI’s and average. Carlos only has 50 career homers and 14 of those have come in the 2012 season. Chooch is having a break-out year at 33 years of age. He has a stellar batting average at .345 which is good for 4th in the MLB. Ruiz was rated the most underrated catcher in baseball. I believe it. 2012 was Carlos’ first All-Star appearance but he is known more for his defense than his offense. Ruiz has a career .994 fielding percentage and has never committed more than 6 errors in a season. Ruiz has been recognized by coaches, players and the city of Philadelphia. The City of Philly awarded Ruiz with the Pride of Philadelphia Award for representing the Philly area with determination and class through athletics. Even teammates of Carlos have nothing but good things to say about their starting catcher. As underrated as Carlos Ruiz may be, one thing you can count on is clutch hitting and great leadership.

7. Russell Martin, New York Yankees. I gotta love Martin because he was born in Ontario, Canada. “My home province.” Martin is having a terrible 2012 season. He has just 12 home runs, 30 RBI’s, and a pathetic .188 average. The 29-year-old played for the L.A. Dodgers for 5 seasons before signing with the Yanks before the 2011 year. Martin has pretty good career numbers for a catcher. He has hit 84 homers, 394 RBI’s and has a .260 average. Martin has appeared in 3 All-Star Games in 2007, 2008 and 2011 as well as earning a Gold Glove award and a Silver Slugger award, both in 2007. In my eyes Martin has been overpaid during his career. In 2009, Martin signed a one-year deal worth $3.9 million, in 2010 Martin signed a one-year 6 million dollar deal. Then in 2011 the Dodgers offered Russell 4.2 million for one year and Martin insisted for $5 million or more. After the rejection, Los Angeles non-tendered him. Martin then signed in the Bronx for one year at $6 million. For the 2012 year he signed for a massive 7.5 million bucks. Little did the Yankees know that 2012 would be Martin’s worst season in his career. Even though Martin costs big bucks he is still able to maintain a spot on my top 10.

8. Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians. Santana is exactly what Cleveland needs when it comes to power. The Indians have struggled over the past few years due to the lack of big bats. Carlos provides the strength. The 26-year-old has not performed his best in 2012, but he was on the disabled list for a good period of time. Santana has 42 homers and 142 RBI in his career. Carlos has a reasonable batting average at .240 during his career but when Santana does get on base he can steal a few too. Santana has the ability to play first base as well as catcher, which a lot of teams like. Carlos is a star in the making for the Tribe.The Domincan Republic native shows good baseball knowledge. Santana even started a triple play on April 3 2011 against the White Sox. Carlos is a good deal money- wise too, he signed for 5 years and $21 million in April 2012. In 2011, Santana was second in the MLB in home runs with 27. If Grady Sizemore does not return from injury soon then the Indians will be relying heavily on Santana int he future. I think he can definitely live up to expectations.

9. A.J. Pierzynski, Chicago White Sox. This former professional wrestler is a great veteran in the Sox lineup. A.J. has made several appearances on WWE and TNA Impact wrestling.(I wouldn’t want to get into a bench brawl with him). Pierzynski is known for his… colourful personality. Several times he has been accused of hurting or trying to hurt players  and coaches. But what do you expect from a former wrestler? Aside from the negatives Pierzynski is a pretty good offensive and defensive catcher. A.J. bats .284 in his career and has smacked 145 homers and 706 RBI. Anthony John Pierzynski has caught a no-hitter and a perfect game in his career. He has 2 All-Star appearances in 2002 and 2006. But A.J. has what lots of women want, rings and belts. A.J. has a World Series Ring from 2005 with Chicago and I’m sure he has a few championship belts from his wrestling career.  The 35-year-old is having a great 2012 campaign, good enough to be on pace for career highs in home runs and slugging percentage. Although A.J. may not be the most gentle player in the league, he is sure to provide a veteran presence and good power in his bat.

10. J.P. Arencibia, Toronto Blue Jays. When J.P. entered the league in August 2010, he was one of the most highly talked about prospects in Toronto. When J.P. gets a chance he delivers. Living not too far from Toronto, I watch the Blue Jays games daily. When Arencibia made his debut Iwas watching from home as he smacked a first-pitch home run, becoming the 28th MLB player in history to hit a home run on his very first pitch. He followed that up with a double in at bat #2 and a single in #3. He finished the game with one more homer. Arencibia is maintaining the role as the starting catcher for Toronto. J.P. has 41 career home runs with 132 RBI and a reasonable .224 batting average. J.P. hits can hit home runs with the best of them. He was 4th in the MLB in long bombs in 2011 with 23, and is currently 5th in the MLB this year with 16. J.P. won’t probably finish as well as he did offensively this year due to a hand injury but J.P. proves that when he gets in a slump, he can easily break out of it with a sudden hot streak. He is still only in his third year and from here things are looking up for J.P. and the Blue Jays.

Honourable Mentions:    Miguel Montero, Arizona Diamondbacks

                                                   Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers

                                                   Alex Avila, Detroit Tigers

                                                   Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles

                                                   Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Boston Red Sox

                                                   Geovany Soto, Texas Rangers


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