Mar 2, 2014; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro (30) point to relief pitcher John Stilson (52) after a strike out to close the fifth inning against the New York Yankees at Florida Auto Exchange Park. New York Yankees defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 8-2. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Blue Jays vs The AL East Part 1: Catcher


Mar 2, 2014; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro (30) point to relief pitcher John Stilson (52) after a strike out to close the fifth inning against the New York Yankees at Florida Auto Exchange Park. New York Yankees defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 8-2. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 2, 2014; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro (30) point to relief pitcher John Stilson (52) after a strike out to close the fifth inning against the New York Yankees at Florida Auto Exchange Park. New York Yankees defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 8-2. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Rotation, rotation, rotation. We’ve analyzed it to death and we will until the Blue Jays break camp with their Starting 5. Let’s turn things around a bit and focus on the other starting 8. How does our 8 stack up against the other divisional 8s? Good thing you found me then my friend for it is here you will find such a comparison. Easiest way to do this would be to go around the diamond each day. Today it will be all about number 2: Catcher. Here are the candidates listed in alphabetical order by team:

Probable AL East Starting Catchers

Baltimore Orioles: Matt Wieters

Year Age Tm G AB HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2013 27 BAL 148 523 22 79 .235 .287 .417 .704 88
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/11/2014.

Wieters has always been considered one of the top catchers in the game. His defense has been exceptional as evidenced by his 3 Gold Gloves in 2011 and 2012. He receives the ball well and his career fielding percentage is .994…as a CATCHER. Considering the amount of times a catcher has his hands on the ball it is a feat unto itself.

Hitting-wise Wieters has been a league average player but above average as a catcher who can produce 20+ homer seasons and a fair number of RBIs. He may strikeout a bit too much and his batting average has dropped since 2011 but there are not many catchers that give you the overall catching necessities that Wieters does.

Boston Red Sox: A.J. Pierzynski

Year Age Tm G AB HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2013 36 TEX 134 503 17 70 .272 .297 .425 .722 94
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/11/2014.

Pierzynski has had a very good career. Not known so much for his defense he has more than held his own with a .995 career fielding percentage. Aside from a couple of blips, Pierzynski has kept his passed balls per season below 10. Unfortunately, he has been well below average in throwing out base stealers. Since that aspect of the game has deteriorated the last couple decades in favour of power it really does not hurt his value much.

Offensively he has always been above average. He hits 10-14 home runs a season but his batting average is usually amongst the best at his position (career .283 BA). He knows how to take a walk and make contact. He has never struck out more than 78 times in a season and knows how to fire up his teammates. He is well above league averages for players, let alone a catcher. He will be in demand until the day he decides to retire.

New York Yankees: Brian McCann

Year Age Tm G AB HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2013 29 ATL 102 356 20 57 .256 .336 .461 .796 115
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/11/2014.

7 NL All-Star selections. 6 Silver Slugger awards. Brian McCann may be the best offensive catcher out there today…well he was. Injuries have taken its toll on his body and since he played in 143 games in 2010 he hasn’t played in more than 128 since. Even though he played in only 102 games last season in Atlanta he still hit 20 homers for a sixth consecutive season. His career OPS is .823. Dude can hit.

McCann has become an average defender after starting out well below league average. He catches the ball and that’s about it. He never had a great caught stealing rate but doesn’t make a ton of errors either. His .991 Fielding Percentage for his career is below that for an average catcher. He is most likely going to spend some time DHing in New York and this might help his average and power spike more and since the AL East is a lot to do with power he seems perfect for this division.

Tampa Bay Rays: Ryan Hanigan

Year Age Tm AB HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2013 32 CIN 222 2 21 .198 .306 .261 .567 58
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/11/2014.

Ryan Hanigan has played the back up role well during his tenure with Cincinnati. He never hit for great power and his batting average was just that…average. Don’t expect there to be much change to this coming to the AL East. He has a chance to be a below average offensive force at the low end of the Tampa Bay batting order. His career BA of .262 in the NL seems to suggest it may not get any better. Defensively though…the guys pretty damn good.

He rarely allows passed balls. he has thrown out 40% of base runners for his career with a 48% rate as recently as 2012. His career Fielding Percentage is .995. I would have him on my team just for that. He had an injury shortened 2013 so perhaps his huge dip in offensive stats was just a blip.

Toronto Blue Jays: Dioner Navarro

Year Age Tm AB HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2013 29 CHC 240 13 34 .300 .365 .492 .856 132
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/11/2014.

Hmmmm. Well anything would be better than what the Jays had last year. Navarro is a middling catcher who has seen his production at the plate spike in the right direction the last couple seasons. Apparently Joey Votto showed him a different approach at the plate and it seemed to come together for him last year with the Cubs. This is the Navarro Alex Anthopoulos is hoping to get. If he doesn’t, we may not see much difference from our catching situation.

Navarro’s fielding is pretty below average. Thank goodness he isn’t catching R.A. Dickey. His career fielding percentage of .989 stands out, as does his penchant for errors in general. He doesn’t even throw out that many runners to make up for his lack of production in other aspects of his game. Navarro is here for his bat…and because there were no other options available.

So how does this all break down? Well from my chair it would seem that if you are looking for a complete player then the choices would be Wieters followed by McCann, Pierzynski, Hanigan and lastly Navarro. This is only one position and already the Jays look like the worst of the bunch. How will they stack up against the AL East for the other positions? Keep your eyes here for the next 7 days and I will present you the information. Feel free to vent on my face in the comments below!

Tags: Dioner Navarro Featured Popular Toronto Blue Jays

  • Andrew van Laar

    Looking forward to this series :)

  • Erik Trenouth

    Fangraphs disagrees (this may be my point on all of your articles in this series, although I can’t really argue with your results either). They look at the entire team though, so that may be a bit of a difference maker. They have Wieters and McCann first and second, with slightly better backups for McCann. They have the Jays 3rd, but mostly because they view Kratz as the 2nd best backup in the Majors. Then they have Rays and finally the Red Sox. They don’t think too favorably of Pierzinski, but I think they underrate him a bit. Overall, I think Navarro definitely has the ability to be third in the division by himself. The combination of him and Kratz will be better than JP/Thole last year. Although I am sure Romero as a catcher would have been a better option last year.

  • RyanMueller

    I am looking forward to watching Navarro’s recieving skills, game calling, handling pitchers when they shake him off, and blocking balls in dirt. I don’t think that enough attention has been given to how much of an affect Navarro will have on our pitchers. With all the passed balls last year does anyone think that it didn’t start to get into the pitchers head whenever they called for a pitch low and in the dirt?

    • http://jaysjournal.com/ Michael Wray

      It’s just nice to have a couple of big league catchers who actually look like they know what they are doing behind the plate.

      • RyanMueller

        Agreed kratz looks like he can carry his own at the plate and pretty good behind the dish also. Might be a steal considering what we gave up to get him.

  • ellisburks

    Your metrics for evaluating the players are a bit out dated. Avg, errors, fielding percentage and home runs are a bit dated. OPS,WARP, OBP would be better indicators.

    • http://tallboywrites.wordpress.com/ Jeff Morten

      I am as old school as you can get dude. The grey in my beard doesn’t mean I haven’t taken those others into consideration. I went with basic stats to appeal to a broad selection of audience. That being said, do you disagree with how I rank the players? If not then who cares what stats were used to reach the same conclusions?