Every year MLB Network puts on a series entitled “Top 10 Right Now” at each position in the game of baseball. And over the years I have joined along and made my list. Now before last season, it didn’t mean much beyond being a personal exercise. Last year having had LaracuenteLedger.com, I now have a platform to display my list. And this year I’ll be keeping with the decade-long tradition. I follow along with MLB Network and release my list as they air the corresponding episode of each position. So we begin with the Top 10 Catchers Right Now.
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Each time I sit down to make out my list of the Top 10 at each position I look to the graphic above that MLB Network releases. I usually have an idea in mind of my top players at each position, but then I research and try to make my best decision. Now the selection process is somewhat like a fantasy draft of each position as an individual draft. But by the same token one must take into account previous output and estimate what the player can do in the upcoming season at that position. And be sure to listen to today’s episode of The Laracuente Ledger Podcast for a complete recap of both my Top 10 Right Fielders & Catchers Right Now. So number ten on my Top 10 Catchers Right now is…
No. 10: Omar Narváez
Omar Narváez is a name that you may not know at the moment. But by the end of 2019, you should hear his name quite a bit. Narváez has spent his three seasons in the Major Leagues as a platoon player for the Chicago White Sox. But following a trade to the Seattle Mariners Omar should become an everyday starting catcher. Despite playing in only 97 as part of a platoon, Omar had an OPS+ of 120 and slashed .275/.366/.429. He also added 9 home runs and 30 RBI’s as well. Both of those numbers should increase given more playing time.
No. 9: Martin Maldonado
The position of catcher is about more than offense. And more so than any other position can be seen as a defensive position. And Martin Maldonado represents that very belief. A team that has a light-hitting catcher like Martin who is excellent in working with his pitching staff is at a significant advantage. At this premium position, I value defense over offense, and that is why I have Martin Maldonado on the list over someone with more offensive upside.
No. 8: Brian McCann
Following a similar path as to that of Martin Maldonado, Brian McCann makes my list on more of the defensive side. Brian McCann going back home to Atlanta I feel will have a significant impact on his season. Working with that talented pitching staff should give McCann a boost. And when looking at the offense, Mac can take advantage of some of the ballparks in the National League East and get some easy homers as well.
No. 7: Willson Contreras
Now when looking at the Chicago Cubs catcher, Willson Contreras, you get a young man that is starting to come into his own. Looking at what he does with the veteran pitching staff the Cubs have is impressive. He has also been able to keep runners at bay even when Jon Lester (who can’t throw over to first) is on the mound. And then when you add in his offensive capabilities, he is one of the top 10 Catchers Right Now.
No. 6: JT Realmuto
Placing JT Realmuto at the number six spot on my list can be seen as somewhat controversial. Especially given how popular his name has been linked at the top of the trade market. And that is a fair question to pose, but again my assessment is all my own. And when I look at JT Realmuto, he is without question one of the best. His combination of defensive ability paired with his offensive game and his unparalleled speed from a catcher is remarkable. And his name is rightfully at the top of many lists this offseason as the top “available” catchers. But when I’m looking for my catcher for 2019, I look at others ahead of JT.
No. 5: Wilson Ramos
In researching my list of catchers, I did not expect to see Wilson Ramos name so high on so many different offensive categories. Wilson Ramos has always been an underrated catcher in my book. And I was glad to add his name so high on my list. Now the only reason he falls in at the number five spot is that the guys ahead of him are better defensively in my mind. And again I value that very highly for my Top 10 Catchers Right Now.
No. 4: Buster Posey
Buster Posey was the headliner of this list several years running. But injuries have taken their toll on the former MVP backstop. As Buster gets older, I expect him to play fewer games at the catching position. But for 2019 I believe Posey will regain that once dominant form. Albeit, with playing a few more games at first base this season. Posey combines the defensive skills and offensive prowess of an all-time great catcher. And as long as he stays healthy, he will remain in the top echelon of catchers.
No. 3: Yasmani Grandal
Yasmani Grandal could top this list by many accounts. And despite a relatively poor showing in the postseason, Grandal had a good 2018 campaign. When you look at the offensive capabilities of what Yasmani can do in the hitter-friendly confines of Miller Park in Milwaukee in direct contrast to the at times cavernous Dodger Stadium in LA, the offensive numbers could be staggering. In 2019, Grandal should have a monster season before re-entering the free agent market again.
No. 2: Yadier Molina
Placing Yadier Molina at the number two spot can also be a source of controversy. But again when I think about the catching position I want someone that can provide my pitching staff with certainty and Yadier is that guy for me. I know that the offensive numbers aren’t the same as some of the other guys on this list. But he handles all the duties and responsibilities of the catcher position the best in my opinion.
No. 1: Gary Sanchez
Now I know I just praised Yadier Molina for his ability as a catcher and all the duties that the position entails. But when you look at the ability offensive and defensively of Gary Sanchez there is no one else to place at number one in my book. Yes, I understand that Sanchez had issues blocking the ball and those issues need to be corrected. But that comes with
Even in the albatross season that was 2018, Sanchez managed to hit 18 home runs and drive in 53. And when you looking at Gary defensively, aside from the passed balls, nearly every other defensive aspect Sanchez does quite well in. Gary has a well above average arm behind the plate, he calls a good game. And again it can not be understated when going right on the offensive end he is arguably the best hitter in the Yankees massive star-studded lineup. So if I had to choose one catcher for the 2019 season that man would be Gary Sanchez.