There are catchers who garner more headlines. Joe Mauer, Brian McCann, Carlos Ruiz and Mike Napoli all come to mind. They definitely deserve all the praise that comes their way. However, I would argue that Miguel Montero of the Arizona Diamondbacks is better than all of them, perhaps the best backstop in Major League Baseball. Do I think that because I write a blog for the D-Backs? No, I believe that it is the truth. Maybe each of the above catchers do certain things better than Miggy. However, when you look at the entire package for all of them, I think Montero is a small cut above each of these players.
Sep 9, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Miguel Montero went 2-4 with a run scored during the D-Backs’ 8-2 loss to the Padres. Image: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
Let us start with actually playing the position. Most catchers are not behind the plate for 140 games. Yet, Miggy is on pace to reach that number for the second year in a row, having caught 122 so far. He is also going to break the 1,000 inning barrier, just like he did in 2011. In the National League, no one has played more than Montero’s 262 games over the last two years. He does not have the benefit of the Designated Hitter like Mauer and Napoli. How about his offense? Well, he may exceed his 15 home run, 86 RBI, .282 average from 2011. His numbers are 15-81-.283 at the moment, plenty of time to match or better 2011. Miggy also has batted cleanup on numerous occasions, something also very rare for a catcher. As for his defense, he has had to handle four rookie pitchers, unheard of on many teams. Despite the challenge of tutoring so many youngsters and the sheer volume of games and innings, Montero’s four passed balls are the fewest among all catchers in 2012. He also leads the NL since the beginning of 2011 with 63 runners caught stealing. How he was not named an All-Star this season is beyond me. That mistake should not be repeated in 2013.
The Dianondbacks were wise to lock up Miggy thru 2017. Catchers are natural leaders and Montero seems to fit the bill with his willingness to play just about every day and his prowess both in the field and at bat. The prized young arms of Arizona are in good hands with Miguel Montero calling the action from behind the plate.
Thanks to Chelsea Janes at mlb.com for her article on Montero. She provided all of the defensive stats used in this post. You can read Chelsea’s piece by clicking here.
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