2017 MLB Season

Position Rankings for 2017 MLB Season: Catchers

This is the second installment of the 2017 MLB Season Position Rankings. In this installment, we will be focusing on catchers. Catchers will be weighed by their offensive as well as defensive stats.

Lets start our list of backstops at number five.

5. Yasmani Grandal- Los Angeles Dodgers

2017 MLB Season

Yasmani Grandal will be a steady presence behind the plate for the Dodgers in 2017. (Kevin Sullivan, Dodgers Staff Photographer)

Yasmani Grandal has proven to be a steadying presence behind the plate for the Los Angeles Dodgers. After being acquired from the Padres in the 2014 Matt Kemp trade, he has come into his own. He has provided a solid bat with some good power, knocking 27 long balls to go along with 72 RBI’s in 2016.

Grandal also has good control over the opposing team’s running game. In 2016, Grandal threw out would-be base stealers at an above average 29 percent. Grandal also had 13 defensive runs saved in 2016, providing elite defense behind the plate.

While Grandal does hit for a relatively low average (career .238 hitter), he makes up for it with good power and exceptional defensive skills. Look for Grandal to contend for his second career NL All-Star appearance in 2017.

4. Wilson Ramos- Tampa Bay Rays

Wilson Ramos turned into an offensive force for the Washington Nationals in 2016. With the decline of Bryce Harper from his 2015 MVP form, Ramos was able to pick up some of the slack and help Washington to their third NL Division Series in the last five years. However, the Nationals were unable to get over the hump.

Ramos posted career highs in all major offensive categories. He batted .307 and launched 22 bombs to go with 80 RBI’s. While putting up career highs in offensive numbers, Ramos also exhibited a strong control over the base paths. Ramos was well above league average (27 percent) in throwing out baserunners, limiting opposing teams to 37 percent.

While Ramos did provide ample control of the run game, his overall defense left something to be desired. He posted -1 defensive runs saved in 2016. The Tampa Bay Rays snagged the slugging catcher this off season, and will value him more for his bat than his glove in 2016.

3. Salvador Perez- Kansas City Royals

2017 MLB Season

The base paths are on lock down with Salvador Perez behind the dish. (John Rieger, USA Today Sports)

Salvador Perez has been one of the top catchers in all of baseball since becoming a full-time starter in 2013. In that time, Perez has garnered four AL All-Star appearances to go along with four Gold Gloves. He has provided a steady presence for the Royals and helped fuel their back-to-back World Series appearances in 2014-2015.

While his bat did slip some from his career averages (career .272, .247 in 2016), his power was ever present. Perez slammed 22 home runs, the most of his career to go along with 64 RBI’s.

He also continued to show why he is considered one of the best defensive catchers of the game. Perez threw out opposing baserunners at an astounding 48 percent, easily tops for the catchers in contention for this list. He also provided solid overall defense with 3 defensive runs saved. Perez is set to continue his run as top defensive catcher in all of baseball for years to come.

2. Jonathan Lucroy- Texas Rangers

Jonathan Lucroy saw his season be split between the NL and the AL as the top catcher available was traded from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Texas Rangers at the 2016 trade deadline. Lucroy posted solid numbers in both leagues in 2016, batting .292 while providing exceptional power evident from his .500 slugging percentage. He used his 24 home runs to pad his slugging percentage while pairing them with 81 RBI’s.

Lucroy was a force for the Texas Rangers down the stretch, both behind the plate as well as in the batters box. He threw out runners at a 39 percent clip, more than 10 percent better than the league average. Lucroy also had 4 defensive runs saved in 2016, proving he is one of the top overall catchers in baseball. A change of scenery seemed to fuel Lucroy in 2016. Look for him to continue his ascent while helping lead the World Series contending Texas Rangers in 2017.

1. Buster Posey- San Francisco Giants

Buster Posey has proven to be the total package for the San Francisco Giants. He has four career NL All-Star appearances, three Silver Sluggers, one Gold Glove, and an NL MVP Trophy to go along with his NL ROY award. Posey easily gained the top spot in these rankings, but not just by his trophy case. He posted a batting average of .288 to go along with 14 home runs and 80 RBI’s.

Posey was able to couple his solid offense with his stellar defense to garner his fourth NL All-Star appearance and earn his first Gold Glove. Posey posted stellar defensive numbers, providing 23 defensive runs saved in 2016, easily tops on this list. Combine that with his ability to limit the running game by throwing out 37 percent of baserunners, and you have the best defensive catcher of the 2016 season. Posey will give the Giants a strong glove and bat in 2017.

Catchers play a vital role in the offense and defense of a team. While catchers are more heavily weighed on their defensive stats, in the next installment of this series we will be looking at some of the biggest bats in the game. Stay tuned!

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Players of the Week in the AL Central: 5/23-5/29

The American League Central really started to get competitive this week. The White Sox are currently on a six game skid to move from first place to third. Kansas City has won their last three games to claim the top spot. The rest of the division held serve, with the Indians staying in second and the Tigers and Twins rounding out the bottom of the division. Here are five position players and five pitchers who did the most for each team in the division:

  1. Kansas City Royals (27-22)

    Wade Davis has proven again that he is a premier closer in baseball. Photo courtesy kansascity.com.

Pitcher: Wade Davis

The Royals played six games on the week and Davis managed to pick up three saves to get them to first place. He had five strike outs and no earned runs allowed, to add to his impressive season. With 14 saves and a 0.92 ERA, Davis is in great position to win the Reliever of the Year Award.

Position Player: Salvador Perez, C

Perez only played five games on the week, but still managed to pick up ten hits. His .526 average led the team, and he added four RBI. His power numbers were solid, as he hit two doubles, a triple and a home run.

2. Cleveland Indians (26-22)

Pitcher: Corey Kluber

Kluber had one start this week, going seven and one third innings against the White Sox and picking up a win. He only allowed one run and struck out 9 batters.

Mike Napoli had a great all-around week for Cleveland. Photo courtesy cleveland.com.

Position Player: Mike Napoli, 1B

Napoli hit .318 on the week, but the amazing thing was his power numbers. His three home runs and nine RBI generated some much needed offense for the Tribe. The two stolen bases for Napoli were the lone ones of the season.

3. Chicago White Sox (27-24)

Pitcher: Zach Putnam

Putnam appeared in three games, without allowing a run. His five innings pitched and .125 batting average against made him the most impressive pitcher of the week for the White Sox.

Austin Jackson was the only bat who produced for the White Sox this week. Photo courtesy southsideshowdown.com.

Position Player: Austin Jackson, CF

The bats went cold for the White Sox this week, but Jackson tried his best to keep them hot. He hit .462 with 4 RBI. His 12 hits for the team were four more than the next highest player on the team.

4. Detroit Tigers (24-25)

Justin Verlander had a great start this week for the Tigers. Photo courtesy stack.com.

Pitcher: Justin Verlander

There were plenty of pitchers who could’ve been the pitcher of the week for the Tigers, but Verlander led them all with ten strike outs. He only gave up three hits in eight innings against the Phillies. His two walks allowed showed how precise he was with the ball this week.

Position Player: Victor Martinez, DH

Martinez had a blistering-hot week by hitting .500 with 11 hits. He didn’t draw any walks, but did add six RBI to help the Tigers stay in the race for the American League Central.

5. Minnesota Twins (15-34)

Pitcher: Fernando Abad

Abad threw 3.1 innings in four relief appearances on the week. His two hits allowed and .167 batting average against helped the Twins win four games this week.

Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano couldn’t stop hitting home runs if they tried this week. Photo courtesy twincities.com.

Position Player(s): Joe Mauer, C and Miguel Sano, RF

Both Mauer and Sano crushed the ball this week. They both finished with four home runs and seven RBI and hit home runs in three straight games. Without their offensive output, the Twins wouldn’t have won four out of six games on the week.

Why Raul Mondesi will play 2B for the Royals in the 2016 playoffs

Courtesy of, www.todaysknuckleball.com

Courtesy of, www.todaysknuckleball.com

Dayton Moore believes in his guys. It’s one of the most impressive things about his tenure with the Kansas City Royals. When everyone else wants to doubt his guys, he believes in them, and it paid huge dividends in 2014 and 2015.

His commitment to his guys is set to pay off big in 2016, with a few key prospects who have a chance to help the big league club in 2016. Among these prospects is the first ever player to make his Major League Debut in the World Series, Raul Mondesi.

Mondesi has been one of Moore’s guys since the day he signed Mondesi on his 16th birthday for $2 million dollars in 2011. Mondesi has been aggressively pushed through the Royals farm system and Moore believes in Mondesi despite his subpar minor league numbers.

Owner of a .246/.293/.658 slash line throughout his minor league career, Mondesi may look on paper like someone who may need to spend 2016 predominately in the minor leagues, and this may be true to a certain extent.

Mondesi probably needs to start the season in the minor leagues. Barring a huge spring training, Mondesi will most likely start the season at AA NWA. Even with a huge ST, the best Mondesi could probably do is earn himself a spot at AAA Omaha instead of NWA come opening day.

This isn’t about who the Royals opening day 2nd baseman will be though. This is about who will be starting at 2nd base for the Royals come October 2016.

There are already early indications that Mondesi might be given a chance with the big league club at some point in 2016.

In an interview with 610 sports insider Josh Vernier in late January, Moore had high praise for the young Mondesi. From Moore “I’m not saying Mondesi can be our Lindor, or our Correa in some aspect in 2016, but he’s certainly talented enough.”

Later on in the same interview, “He (Mondesi) will shine in the major leagues. He will play better in the major leagues than he did in the minor leagues.”

I think the idea around the Royals staff is that Mondesi’s production will only catch up to his talent once he reaches the Major Leagues. This praise from Moore, along with Moore’s track record mean there is a chance that Mondesi will help the Royals in 2016.

Much like Moore did with Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez, he will push Mondesi through the upper levels of the minor leagues if he believes that he can help the big league club win in 2016. By throwing around Correa and Lindor comps, I think it’s apparent that Moore believes Mondesi can help the team at the Major League level in 2016.

The obvious avenue for Mondesi to start in the Major Leagues is at 2nd base. He has the profile of an everyday SS, potentially even a gold glover, but, it’s hard to see him supplanting Alcides Escobar as the team’s everyday SS.

There is already a question as to who the opening day second baseman will be, with Omar Infante and Christian Colon set to duke it out for the positon during spring training.

Infante will most likely be given the nod on opening day, manager Ned Yost loves his defense, and with the money Infante is being paid over the next two seasons it makes sense for Infante to get one more chance to prove that he can be the team’s everyday second baseman.

If Infante struggles through the first portion of the season, postseason hero Christian Colon will most likely get a chance at 2nd base before Mondesi would.

However the organization seems to look at Colon as more of a utility infielder based on the way they have handled him over the past several years. So Colon may not get a very large sample size to prove that he can be the starting second baseman, especially not with Mondesi lurking in the minor leagues.

So let’s say Infante is the everyday 2nd baseman until June, when he is then replaced due to underperformance by Colon. It stands to reason that if Colon doesn’t produce, Mondesi will be given a chance at the job.

Despite being a natural SS, Mondesi has received playing time at 2B over the course of his career. This even includes playing 2B briefly in the 2015 Futures Game. He is the most talented of the trio of potential options at 2B, and he has by far the highest ceiling.

The Royals have been rewarded for believing in their guys the past 2 seasons. 2016 will be no different, only this time they will be rewarded for their belief in a young guy like Mondesi.

Mondesi will not only take over 2B for the Royals by September 1, 2016, he will do so with grace and production. He might not hit .300, but he could bat .250 with gold glove caliber defense and game changing speed on the base paths.

After making his Major League debut in the 2015 World Series, Mondesi may find himself at the starting 2nd baseman in game 1 of the 2016 World Series.