What a Catch!
The Best: Brian McCann, Braves
One of the most consistent catchers over the last five seasons has been Braves backstop Brian McCann. Though McCann has never had 25 home runs or 100 RBI in a season, the Georgia native has been an iron man, avoiding serious injury while blasting 20-plus home runs in each of the last five seasons. Best yet, at just 27 years old, McCann is still young and in his prime.
The Surprise: Alex Avila, Tigers
When Victor Martinez was originally brought into Detroit, it was assumed that he was responsible for most of the Tigers catching duties. It turns out that Martinez is truly the team’s designated hitter, while Alex Avila is the team’s top catcher. Just 24 years old, Avila has evolved into a slugger with 10 home runs and 45 RBI this season.
The Bust: Joe Mauer, Twins
Injuries have certainly played a large role in the Twins disappointing season. The problem is that even though Mauer has returned to the field, he is still seeking the potent bat that won him an MVP award just a few years back. Mauer’s last home run came on September 15, 2010. He has now gone 72 at bats without a dinger this season and he boasts just seven RBI.
Mauer is hurt by several factors including a lack of protection in the batting order and he calls home to a pitcher-friendly ballpark. Though he should improve this season, he likely will struggle to live up to his expectations entering the season.
The 2nd Half Sleeper: Wilson Ramos, Nationals
While most catchers break down late into the season, Wilson Ramos should be able to avoid a great deal of the wear and tear. That’s because at 23 years old, Ramos work behind the plate has yet to take its toll, plus the Nationals originally split playing time between Ramos and Ivan Rodriguez. In other words, as the team looks to provide Ramos with the majority of the playing time going forward, he should be fresher because of the limited action to start the season. A power bat with impressive plate discipline, Ramos is a rising talent.