By: Noah Wright
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Catching is one of the positions on the most defensively demanding positions in all of baseball. But as we go further into the future, baseball catchers are becoming less and less of a offensive force, and being a one dimensional player, either very good offensively, or very good defensively. There are few catchers in The MLB who can do both. Let's examine some of these one-sided, and multi dimensional players, and why this is happening.
Anymore, I’d consider Buster Posey, Yadier Molina, Yasmani Grandal, J.T. Realmuto, and Wilson Contreras, as the only 5 in The MLB who are both good defensively and offensively. All of them do at least one of the following offensively consistently; Hit for power, get on base, and or hit for a decent average. Gary Sanchez is a very good offensive catcher, and can throw a runner out, but greatly struggles from blocking. While Welington Castillo has a decent bat, his defense (other than his arm) isn’t exactly standout. The same can be said about Wilson Ramos. If you list a top 10 catchers list, someone like Martin Maldonado, or Manny Pina may show up. Sure, they may not be .290 hitters, or even 20 home run guys, but they do one thing very very well; throw guys out, and extremely good defensively overall. Some other guys that fall into this category are Tucker Barnhart from The Reds, and Yan Gomes on The Indians.
So why is this happening? I think teams are realizing that catcher should be the best defensive player on the team. Plus teams are realizing that you can sacrifice some defensive and athletic ability at other positions to get some more offensive ability. That’s why there are fewer Rod Carew type players (All average, average to below average power, decent glove) at first base, and more Jose Abreu type players at first (huge bat, average to below average glove).
However this really isn’t a bad thing. A catcher’s defense should be weighed heavier than offensive ability. If you had a guy with no arm/arm accuracy behind the plate, stolen bases would happen all the time. Someone with Martin Maldonado’s athletic ability behind the plate may be more valuable than Gary Sanchez’s bat. You can surround Martin Maldonado with guys that can hit for both power, average, and get on base a decent amount, but you can’t surround Gary Sanchez with very good defensive players, and expect a similar result.
Catchers who have a big bat, and OK or better overall defense are becoming a thing of the past. Anymore, there's only 4 or 5 catchers that can really do both. But it does help teams more than an offensive one dimensional catcher.