Yesterday, I presented the bottom five of my top ten catchers in Major League Baseball.
As a reminder, the evaluations will be the last three seasons of both offensive and defensive prowess. Players with less than 700 plate appearances will not be included in my evaluations.
Let’s continue with numbers five through one.
#5- Russell Martin, Toronto Blue Jays
Martin, a twelve-year league veteran, is one of the most durable players in the league. Only in 2010 and 2017 did Martin not play in at least 100 games. As one of the most respected players in the game, he’s amassed a career 36.6 WAR. Martin is one of the few double-threat catchers whose defense is just as good as his offense. Only three times in his career has he failed to reach at least 100 wRC+. And while he doesn’t hit for average, his career OBP is .350; .329, .335, .343 in his last three seasons. At 34, he’s still going strong and seems to never age as his unremitting career.
#4- JT Realmuto, Miami Marlins
Realmuto is an exciting, young player who in the last two seasons has become one of the hottest catchers in baseball. The Marlins have few, if any, silver linings but Realmuto is one reason to take in a Marlins game. With the exception of 2016, Realmuto has a less than 6% infield pop-up rate; a demonstration of his productive contact ability. Since 2015, he ranks second in barrels and solid contact per pitch.
Remulto has a great eye, (8.1% career whiff rate), can hit for average (.280 career BA), and is good for something around 20 home runs a year. Realmuto won’t wow you with defense, but he’s serviceable with a career DRS of -4. He’s got all the potential to possibly become the best catcher in the league.
#3- Yasmani Grandal , Los Angeles Dodgers
Grandal has been a slow burn to the top half of the catcher’s list since his debut in 2012. One of the best players on a loaded L.A. team, Grandal deserves tons of credit for handling the big-name pitchers on the Dodgers’ staff. His defense isn’t likely to turn heads but his grasp of the game and leadership ability make him an invaluable commodity. Through the last three seasons, Grandal is number five in wOBA and number nine in defensive ability (based on DRS, fielding percentage, and SB/CS ratio) among active catchers. At 29, Grandal might be reaching his peak. But for now, he’s a guy I’d want handling my pitching staff; a catcher who demonstrates the balance you want behind the plate.
#2- Jonathan Lucroy, Free Agent
Lucroy could have made number one on this list, and its somewhat bewildering that he remains a free agent with roughly a month left in the offseason. However, he had a down year in 2017; .311 wOBA against a .337 career mark. He’s had three seasons of at least .360 wOBA and held a career-high 6.2 WAR in 2014 with the Milwaukee Brewers. Lucroy can hit to all fields and has one of the prettiest spray charts you’ll see.
Lucroy has all the potential in the world but at times he seems lost; his WAR has fluctuated from a peak 6.2 to a low of 1.1. Perhaps his inconsistencies are the cause of his unemployment, but there is no denying when Lucroy plays at his peak, its hard to find a better catcher. Lucroy has some of the best hands of any backstop in the league and his release is as good, if not better, than any other player on this list.
#1- Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
While Yadi Molina is known as the best defensive catcher of the modern era, Posey is probably the best hitting catcher. Posey’s WAR has never dipped below 4 in the last six seasons. At 30, it’s not likely to change anytime soon. Defensively, Posey has all the instincts, arm accuracy and strength you could want in a catcher. Possibly the most complete player (let alone catcher) in the league, he’s also a great defensive first baseman. What’s more, Posey has been consistently above average when it comes to on-base percentage.
It was hard to not put Posey at number one but I can’t make a better argument for any catcher on this list.
There you have it. The Junkball Daily’s top ten catchers right now. Check back next weekend as we rank the top first basemen in the league. Happy infuriating!