With Spring Training about to start and a busy offseason coming to an end for the Arizona Diamondbacks, it’s time to see how the team stacks up against the rest of the National League West position by position, from worst to first. We start with a position that has a lot of depth and is important to every team: catcher. At the end of this series we hope to have a better understanding of how the division will shake out in 2014.
5. Yasmani Grandal/Nick Hundley (Padres): Lets just say the Padres catching situation is very ideal right now. The Padres signed Hundley a career .237 hitter to a three year contract in 2011 and he proceeded to hit .157 in 2012 and was replaced as the starter when Grandal was ready to face big league pitching. He destroyed the Minor Leagues and continued to tear the cover off the baseball hitting .297 in a 60 game stretch at the big league level before he was caught taking testosterone and was suspended 50 games. Following the suspension, he wasn’t the same hitter batting .216 before a home plate collision required him to have season ending ACL surgery. Grandal’s time table is unknown at this point but he could be out until as late as August and that is not good news for San Diego. Now the Padres are stuck with Hundley until August and while he is the better defender the Padres shouldn’t expect much out of the position this season.
4. A.J. Ellis (Dodgers): Ellis is your typical catcher. He spent a lot of time in the Minors before finally earning a starting job at the age of 30 and like most catchers is better behind the plate then in the batter’s box. Ellis has been improving his throwing arm and his ability to control the run game every year. Last season he threw out 44% of attempted base runners, a career high and a number good enough to get base runners thinking twice about stealing on him. He is a career .256 hitter and he can hit the long ball belting 20 plus home runs each of the past two seasons while driving in 50 plus runs. Ellis however just isn’t at the same level as some of the elite players at the spot making him an average catcher.
3. Wilin Rosario (Rockies): At age 25 Rosario is quickly evolving into one of the best offensive catchers in the league. Of course it helps to play half of your games at the most extreme hitters park, Coors Field but last year his home and away splits evened out and he is becoming dangerous at every park. He already has two 25 HR, 70 RBI seasons under his belt. He does need to work on his patience at the plate. Rosario doesn’t draw many walks and he swings at everything which could be an issue in the future. One thing is for certain he is a force to be reckoned with at the plate. Defensively Rosario is getting better; he threw out 31% of attempted base runners in 2013.
2. Miguel Montero (Diamondbacks): Back injuries limited his production last season but Montero is still one of the most reliable catchers in the league. In 2011 and 2012, Montero drove in over 80 runs making him one of the best offensive catchers in MLB. At the same time he throws out over 47% of attempted base runners putting him first in the league for three years in a row. It is rare to have a catcher that is a great hitter and great behind the dish but Montero is just that. 2013 wasn’t a great offensive year for Miggy but most of that can be attributed to back issues and a free swinging mentality that got out of control last season. It always seemed like he was swinging for the fences every at bat and that is not the way your supposed to hit. The D’backs are expecting big things from Montero in 2014 and an improved swing should help him do just that.
1. Buster Posey (Giants): Posey is without a doubt the best catcher in the N.L. West and one of the best players in Major League Baseball. He was Rookie of the Year in his first season and MVP in his third season. He won a batting title in 2012 with a .306 average and has been the Giants’ clean up hitter since his 40th major league start. Ultimately Posey is a born leader, a franchise player, and a winner. After all he has two World Series titles in his first four years. He has a decent arm throwing out 31% of attempted base runners and he is a home run threat in the batter’s box. Despite suffering a horrible injury during a collision in 2011 that was responsible for new rule changes, he still is catching this season according to G.M Brian Sabean. There was speculation that he was moving to first base but the Giants already have Brandon Belt there and Posey is best suited at the catcher position. He does a great job handling the pitching staff, a large reason why the Giants won the World Series in 2010 and 2012. When you think of the Giants you think of Buster Posey. Enough said.