Baseball’s Best Defensive Catchers…

In the next installment of “Baseball’s Best” we’ll take a look at baseball’s best defensive catchers. Having a great defensive catcher behind the plate makes all the difference in the game of baseball. Having a guy behind the plate who can block balls in the dirt, throw out runners and can handle a pitching staff from top to bottom is a luxury few teams have.

However, there are 10 teams that have guys behind the plate who I consider the best at what they do. In order to see who the best is, I used a point system based on 4 categories. Unlike the baseball’s best bullpen post where the highest point total determined the best, in this case the lowest point score determined the best.

The 4 categories are as followed:

1. Errors – 10 points

2. Passed Balls Allowed – 10 points

3. Caught Stealing % – 10 points

4. CERA (Catchers ERA) – 10 points

10 – 7. Yadier Molina, Bengie Molina, Brian Schneider, Kurt Suzuki

5 (tied). Chris Snyder, Diamondbacks (24 Points) – Not only did Snyder arrive at the plate in 2008 (.237/16/68/.348 ) but Snyder also arrived withthe glove as well. Snyder was the only catcher in baseball last year who qualified for the fielding % title to have a perfect fielding % of .1000 and Snyder also finished 4th in CERA with 3.85

5 (tied). Dioner Navarro, Rays (24 Points) – Navarro isn’t spectacular in any category but is good in all 4. One of the keys to the Rays World Series run last year, Navarro threw out 38% of would-be base runners in 2008.

4 (tied). Joe Mauer, Twins (19 Points) – As we all know Mauer is one of the best hitters in baseball. His 2 batting titles in the last 3 years prove that. But what many people don’t know is that Mauer is one of the best defensive catchers in the game as well. Mauer won his 1st Gold Glove (I’ll talk about the Gold Glove later) in 2008 and only made 3 errors in 886 total chances.

4 (tied). Jason Kendell, Brewers (19 Points) –  If there was a workhorse award for a catcher, Kendell would win it going away. Kendell caught more games than any other catcher in baseball last year (149) and caught more innings than any catcher in baseball (1,328.1). Catching the most games doesn’t make you a great defensive catcher but throwing out 42% of base runners does. Kendell also had an outstanding CERA of 3.86 in 2008

2. Jose Molina, Yankees (15 Points) – Living in NY I have had the opportunity to watch a lot of Yankee games in the last couple of years and I can tell you first hand the difference between Jorge Posada and Jose Molina defensively is the difference in looks between Oprah Winfrey and Heidi Klum. Molina had a banner year defensively in Posada’s absence in 2008. Out of these 10 catchers, Molina finished 1st in caught stealing % (44%), 2nd in CERA (3.70) and 7th in errors (3). It will be interesting to see how many games Molina plays in 2009 due to a returning Posada. One thing you can’t argue, the Yankees are a much better defensive team when Molina is in the lineup.

1. Rod Barajas, Blue Jays (13 Points) – Barajas had an amazing 2008 behind the plate. Barajas finished 1st in CERA (3.31), 10th in passed balls allowed (2) and 7th in errors (4). What is impressive is that those 2 passed balls came in 785 innings. Barajas started 90 games last year but should see more playing time in 2009 with the departure of Gregg Zaun to the Orioles.

A couple of things that I realized as I was doing this:

1. How amazing are the Molina brothers? To have 3 brothers who are all in the major leagues and to have all 3 brothers play the catching position, one of the hardest positions in sports is truely amazing. Are there any 3 brothers in any sport who played the same position?

2. How on earth did Yadier Molina win the Gold Glove last year? As I was doing this I started to realize that Molina was actually pretty bad defensively last year. In just 114 games behind the plate, Molina made more errors (10) than any other catcher in baseball not named Russell Martin, had one of the worst CERA’s (4.25) and had just as many passed balls as Jason Kendell and Giovani Soto in 200 less innings caught. I guess the Gold Glove doesn’t mean as much as it used to


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3 Responses to “Baseball’s Best Defensive Catchers…”

  1. Gary "The Kid" Carter Says:

    I was reading your post and was interested to see what you thought of me and where I’d end up on this list?

    Maybe compared to Piazza the Plumber?

  2. With the addition of Andy Pettitte…does it make sense for Joba to go back to the pen? « Zell’s Pinstripe Blog Says:

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  3. With the addition of Andy Pettitte…does it make sense for Joba to go back to the pen? | Yankees Rumors - Says:

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