By Eric Jacinto and Chris Larson
Welcome BASEBALL Fanatics to Philly Sports Passion 2019 MLB Top 10 Right Now! Myself and Chris love baseball so much that we will be doing our own top ten right now just like MLB Network does every year before each season. We will each have our own list, we'll be starting with the catcher position. We've decided to do two positions a week, the plan is Mondays and Fridays hopefully however, some weeks might be different.
When you survey the various positions around the diamond, the catcher is basically the lifeline of any team. Not only do they help the pitcher on the mound figure out how to get out the opposing hitter, they command the game from behind the dish and play a vital role in helping lead the team to a win.
Right now, the position is pretty flush with talent, although, it's a position where some of that talent is starting to age and that could end up leading to a decrease in production for certain guys. However, the position also features household names at the top, younger talent that follows, and some shifting that could take place following those spots.
Without further ado here are the Top Ten Catchers Right Now! Enjoy and comment below your top ten catchers right now!
Eric's Top 10 Catchers Right Now:
Chris' Top 10 Catchers Right Now:
1. J.T. Realmuto (Miami Marlins) - Meet J.T. Realmuto, a name that you all have likely heard mentioned numerous times this season given his availability and demand on the trade market, but a guy who is the best catcher in baseball right now. While some believe that Realmuto's 2018 season could prove to be a fluke, that's certainly not the way it's trending on paper. Realmuto ended up with his first career All-Star honor last year, racked up a 4.8 WAR, and knows how to defend tremendously behind the dish. Considering that Realmuto is entering his age 27 season, things should only get better as he gets ready to enter his prime.
2. Buster Posey (San Francisco Giants) - Buster Posey continues to be the cream of the crop of the catching position and is certainly a household name that all San Francisco Giants and fans around the game recognize immediately. Posey has taken a step back recently, as he only caught 105 games last season compared to 140 in 2017 due to a hip injury that resulted in offseason surgery, but his walk rate (10%) stayed around the same as it's been the past three seasons and he still had an OPS+ of (106), which was 6% higher than league average. If he is able to stay healthy this year, he might move back into the first spot on this list, but that could pose to be a challenge considering he is going age 32 season.
3. Yadier Molina (St. Louis Cardinals) - Another mainstay at the top of the list is Yadier Molina who continues to represent the St. Louis Cardinals and is someone who will eventually make it into the Hall of Fame. Last season was a bit of a challenging one for Molina after he had to have emergency testicular surgery in May, which ultimately sidelined him for a little over a month, but he still finished the year with 20 doubles, 20 home runs, and a .750 OPS. Outside of the offensive numbers, Yadier Molina continues to be one of the best in the game calling a game and should continue to play a key role in the success of the Cardinals young starters this coming season.
4. Wilson Contreras (Chicago Cubs) - Wilson Contreras is another guy that is just getting ready to enter his prime, he will turn 27 in May, and will eventually be at the top of the position with the aforementioned, J.T. Realmuto. According to FanGraphs data, Contreras ranked as the best defensive catcher last season and does know how to be a key cog offensively when he gets going at the right time. The Cubs continue to show confidence in him, so if Contreras is able to combine both of his skill sets (superb defense and offense), then he will have quite the season this coming year and be someone featured in numerous highlight reels.
5. Yasmani Grandal (Milwaukee Brewers) - Even after his blunder from last postseason, Yasmani Grandal is an impact player and someone that should have a big impact on the Milwaukee Brewers this coming season. Last season, Grandal caught the most games of his entire big league career (140) and finished the year with the third highest OPS of his big league tenure (.815) over 518 plate appearances. Hopefully Grandal is able to redeem himself with Milwaukee and end up with an even better deal next offseason, but regardless, he will have an impact on the Brewers pitching staff this year and you can't go wrong with the offense he provides either.
6. Wilson Ramos (New York Mets) - The New York Mets landed a highly regarded guy in the catching market this offseason when they inked, Wilson Ramos, to his two-year, $19 million dollar deal. Plenty of Mets fans should have fun watching "The Buffalo" at Citi Field this season, but they also have to hope that he's able to stay healthy, something that has continued to be a challenge for him and why he was held out of the Top 5. However, Ramos continues to be one of the better hitting catchers in baseball and does well defensively, meaning that he still deserves this recognition.
7. Francisco Cervelli (Pittsburgh Pirates) - Francisco Cervelli is another guy who has been the face of the franchise, but is one year away from free agency and is rumored to be available on the trade market. The reason why Cervelli has been coveted by teams is due to the fact that he finished last season with the third highest WAR value among catchers (3.3) and the fact that he ranks so high in numerous different defensive categories. Overall last season, Cervelli experienced an uptick in his strikeout and walk percentages, but ranked well in slugging percentage and OPS, all of which are promising signs that he could once again put in a positive campaign this year.
8. Salvador Perez (Kansas City Royals) - If you're looking for the catcher out of this group that is durable and who is an icon for a small market team, then look no further than Salvador Perez. Dating back to 2013, Perez has caught at least 125 games, but given that he made his MLB debut at 21 years old, he is sort of viewed as an aging guy even though he's only entering his age 29 season. Still, while the numbers don't necessarily work in Perez favor, you have to like his ability to call a game from behind the dish, the leader role that he plays in the clubhouse, and his overall pedigree.
9. Mike Zunino (Tampa Bay Rays) - The Tampa Bay Rays did quite well when they acquired Mike Zunino from the Seattle Mariners this offseason. Zunino has developed the reputation of being a power plus catcher, who doesn't necessarily put up the best walk or strikeout percentages, but someone who knows how to hit for power when it counts the most. For instance, just last season, Zunino had an Isolated Power (Iso) value of (.209), which was well above the league average, (.161). Add to the fact that he hit 20 home runs last year and now plays in a more offensively friendly ballpark and things are sure looking up for Mike Zunino.
10. Gary Sanchez (New York Yankees) - Gary Sanchez had a tremendously disappointing season last year, after finishing the 2017 season in top All-Star form, but considering that he's only 26, don't give up on him entirely just yet. Sanchez still has the makings of someone who can return to All-Star caliber levels and if he can stay healthy, then he should be able to do plenty of damage this year for the New York Yankees. There's a reason why Yankees General Manager, Brian Cashman, and Skipper, Aaron Boone, are not willing to deal Sanchez for another top caliber catcher.