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
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
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
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
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
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!