There are some good catchers in the National League. To understand the importance of this position in baseball, all you have to do is understand that this is the quarterback of a baseball team. The best, therefore, are usually associated with the best pitching staffs. With little question, and in no certain order, the five best pitching staffs are the Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and the Atlanta Braves. Each of these teams have an exceptional catcher behind the plate.
On offense through Sunday, for the ‘Fightin’s’ there is Carlos Ruiz, hitting .327 with a slugging percentage of .582 with 22 RBI. For the BrewCrew, Jonathan Lucroy has a .341 BA; .505 SLG and 16 RBI. For the Giants, coming back from a serious injury last season, Buster Posey, the 2010 Rookie of the Year, has a batting average this season of .282; .486 SLG and has driven in 12 RBI so far this season. For the Cards, the All-Star, Yadier Molina has a BA of .296; .504 SLG and 16 RBI so far this year. For the Braves, Brian McCann, an All-Star for the past six seasons, has a .284 BA; .406 SLG and has driven in 20 RBI.
On defense this season, Ruiz has thrown out 11 of 28 runners and 1 passed ball in 236.2 innings. Lucroy has thrown out 9 of 35 runners and has 3 passed balls in 222.1 innings so far. Posey, just beginning his season after the injury has only 57.0 innings played. As for Yadier, the perennial All-Star behind the plate, has thrown out 6 runners out of 19 attempting to steal. He has 3 passed balls in his 253.0 innings. McCann has thrown out 6 runners out of 22 attempting to steal a base. He has 2 passed balls in 239 innings this season.
As you can see, all are exceptional back stops. But for the two top catchers so far this season, you have to probably throw out Posey because he is just coming back and doesn’t have the innings yet this season. Now you are down to four.
The past performances of Molina and McCann automatically puts them into consideration. But this season, their hitting has not been up to par and they are behind both Ruiz and Lucroy in throwing out runners. Ruiz and Lucroy are also the top two hitting catchers in the National League.
But so far this season the arm of Ruiz appears to be on fire. Therefore through the first 35 games, Carlos Joaquin Ruiz appears to be the best the National League has to offer.
Let’s get to it. We’ve seen the first couple of weeks of Spring Training and now the regulars will be in the lineups until the season begins. This is also the time when many get their fantasy teams together. Now you get to pick who you think are the All-Stars in the National League (American League next week) before the season begins. You can do this by going to: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KHFN568.
First Basemen to consider: Joey Votto, Cincinnati. Now that Howard is not yet ready to play after his off season operation and both Fielder and Pujols this year are in the American League, Votto seems like the logical choice to top this position. Also in the race are Mike Morris, Washington; Lance Berkman, the former right fielder from St. Louis and Freddie Freedman of Atlanta.
Second Basemen to consider: Last year’s top selection, Rickie Weeks from Milwaukee is bashing the ball again this Spring. But Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati; Chase Utley, Philadelphia and Freddy Sanchez, San Francisco seem the likely contenders.
Third Basemen to consider: Amaris Ramirez, Milwaukee; David Wright, New York; Ryan Zimmerman, Washington and Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco seem like the top choices.
Shortstops to consider: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado, is once again having a great Spring. But then again, so are Starlin Castro, Chicago, Jose Reyes, Miami and you can’t forget Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia. Probably the best depth in all of baseball. I’ve seen both Tulo and Castro play this Spring and they are terrific.
Left Field is also another crammed position. Last year’s All-Star and league MVP, Ryan Braun, Milwaukee leads the list. Alfonso Soriano, Chicago; Matt Holliday, St. Louis; and Ryan Ludwick, Cincinnati seem ready. You decide.
In Center Field there is real race. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles, is once again ready to begin his MVP hunt. But then there is one of the most consistent Center Fielders in all of baseball, Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh. Do not forget Christ Young, Arizona and Shane Victorino of Philadelphia. The ‘Flyin Hawaiian’ is always exciting. You make the choice.
In Right Field, last year’s All-Star selection, Cory Hart, Milwaukee, will be ready for Opening Day. The exciting Justin Upton, Arizona; Carlos Beltran, St. Louis and Hunter Pence, Philadelphia will all be vying for the top spot. You choose.
And behind the plate, we have Yadier Molina, St. Louis; Buster Posey, San Francisco; Jonathon Lucroy, Milwaukee and Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia. Who do you like?
Go to the survey link above and let’s see who we will collectively choose. I announce it before the season begins.
Now, go vote.