After covering this year’s top infielders and outfielders, it’s time to go over the top 15 guys behind the plate for 2017.
15. Sandy Leon, Boston Red Sox
2016 stats: .310/.369/.476, 7 HR, 35 RBI, 2.7 WAR
If someone tells you they expected Sandy Leon to break out offensively the way he did last season, slap them across the face. They’re lying. Leon’s production was a huge surprise for the Red Sox, who dealt with unfortunate injuries to Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart. Leon stepped up in a big way, but I wouldn’t expect him to duplicate that level of success in 2017. Still, his performance earned himself a spot on this list.
14. Stephen Vogt, Oakland Athletics
2016 stats: .251/.305/.406, 14 HR, 56 RBI, 2.2 WAR
Stephen Vogt doesn’t get a ton of credit since he’s stuck on the lowly A’s. He’s certainly not the flashiest catcher in the league, but he’s one of very few bright spots on this Oakland team.
13. Matt Wieters, Free Agent
2016 stats: .243/.302/.409, 17 HR, 66 RBI, 1.7 WAR
Matt Wieters is still looking for a place to call home in 2017. The ex-Orioles catcher’s 2016 campaign was his best since 2012, so it’s sort of surprising to see that he has yet to sign somewhere. As of today, the top suitor for Wieters appears to be the Rays, who already acquired Wilson Ramos.
12. Francisco Cervelli, Pittsburgh Pirates
2016 stats: .264/.377/.322, 1 HR, 33 RBI, 1.6 WAR
If chicks truly love the long ball, then they’re never going to be all that impressed with Francisco Cervelli. They should be, though. He’s a pretty solid contact hitter and a great defensive catcher. He saw a drop-off in production from his breakout 2015 season, but he’s still clearly one of the better catchers in the game right now.
11. Brian McCann, Houston Astros
2016 stats: .242/.335/.413, 20 HR, 58 RBI, 0.9 WAR
Brian McCann will have another change of scenery for 2017 as the Yankees traded him to the Astros. Power, pitch framing, and durability are the 32-year-old veteran’s three biggest assets. He’ll be a solid leader on an Astros team that needs that kind of presence on its roster.
10. J.T. Realmuto, Miami Marlins
2016 stats: .303/.343/.428, 11 HR, 48 RBI, 2.6 WAR
I talked about Realmuto in yesterday’s episode of The Eephus. I think 2017 will be the year he really starts turning heads. Since becoming Miami’s full-time catcher in 2015, he’s been rock solid. Keep a close eye on Realmuto in 2017.
9. Wilson Ramos, Tampa Bay Rays
2016 stats: .307/.354/.496, 22 HR, 80 RBI, 3.3 WAR
Before the 2016 season, Wilson Ramos was most known for getting kidnapped in Venezuela. Then, he went on to hit 22 homers and post an OPS of .850. He’ll look to match that production with the Rays this year.
8. Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs
2016 stats: .282/.357/.488, 12 HR, 35 RBI, 1.8 WAR
Contreras was great in the 76 games he played in during his 2016 rookie season. He’ll be the team’s primary catcher going forward, so starting this year we’ll really see what the 24-year-old is made of. He just adds to the already insane amount of studs the Cubs have all over the diamond.
7. Yasmani Grandal, Los Angeles Dodgers
2016 stats: .228/.339/.477, 27 HR, 72 RBI, 2.8 WAR
Grandal’s second season in LA was a successful one. The power-hitting catcher flies somewhat under the radar, but there’s no doubt he has emerged as one of the league’s best.
6. Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees
2016 stats: .299/.376/.657, 20 HR, 42 RBI, 3.0 WAR (53 games)
The runner-up for last season’s AL Rookie Of the Year award will be counted on to make an enormous impact in the Yankees lineup this season. Those numbers above are simply incredible for someone who played in only 53 games. You have to believe he’ll come back to Earth a bit this year. At least, opposing pitchers better hope so.
5. Russell Martin, Toronto Blue Jays
2016 stats: .231/.335/.398, 20 HR, 74 RBI, 1.7 WAR
Russell Martin is a solid offensive catcher, but he doesn’t get nearly enough respect for his outstanding defense. Whether it be blocking, throwing runners out, framing pitches, whatever, Martin remains a top talent behind the plate. Today is also his 34th birthday, so happy birthday.
4. Jonathan Lucroy, Texas Rangers
2016 stats: .292/.355/.500, 24 HR, 81 RBI, 3.9 WAR
Man oh man did the Rangers benefit from Lucroy vetoing that trade to the Indians last year. His offense speaks for itself. He’s without a doubt one of the best hitting catchers in baseball. His defensive ability has declined sharply over the past couple years, though. Regardless, his bat kind of makes up for that.
3. Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
2016 stats: .247/.288/.438, 22 HR, 64 RBI, 2.8 WAR
Another year, another great all-around season in 2016 for Sal Perez. He’s a consistent hitter, but what makes Perez so special are his durability, leadership, and defensive prowess. You had to know before reading this that the 26-year-old would be near the top of this list.
2. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
2016 stats: .307/.360/.427, 8 HR, 58 RBI, 2.9 WAR
Yadi bounced back from his down 2015 season with a great all-around 2016. The eight-time Gold Glover is still among the league’s best at age 34. There’s no reason to expect anything different this year.
1. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
2016 stats: .288/.362/.434, 14 HR, 80 RBI, 4.7 WAR
The obvious choice at the No. 1 spot. Posey was fantastic per usual in 2016, but it was actually a DOWN year for the 29-year-old. Yes, with those numbers above he was slightly worse than his usual self. That’s how you know you have a special player.