Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Best of the Best - Catchers

Who is the best player in baseball at each position?

Tough question, no doubt, but it's something I've been kicking around with some friends and it made for some great debate. Okay, it led to some arguments, but it was fun...

To me, the best player at a given position needs to be the best all-around player, not just dominant in one area or another. For example, to me Mike Piazza was never the "best catcher in the game" because he was deficient on defense.

I'm looking for the balance of all things in position players - hitting, hitting for power, speed, fielding and throwing. In pitchers I'm looking for consistency and ability to dominate opposing hitters.

In other words, these guys need to do things other players at their position can't do.

I'll give you my choices, along with finalists, and you're welcome to do the same in the comments section...

Today it's the catchers:

Finalists: Russell Martin (LAD), Joe Mauer (MIN), Brian McCann (ATL), Yadier Molina (STL), Geovany Soto (CHC)

That's a tough group to choose from. They're all well-rounded players with leadership skills in addition to their game skill. Here's how I whittled it down:

Martin was the first to come off the list. He's not as good a hitter - to me - as Mauer, McCann or Soto and he's not as good a defender as Molina.

The next one off the list was Molina. He's the best defensive catcher in baseball and he has made strides offensively but he lacks the power and patience of Mauer, McCann and Soto.

Next off my list is McCann. Another excellent player but I don't like his defensive game as much as I like Mauer's or Soto's.

The last cut - Joe Mauer. Too many injuries and not enough power when compared to Soto.

Soto hits for a solid average, he hits the ball over the wall, he drives in runs, he draws walks and he's a strong defensive player as well. He's not a Gold Glover but he's good behind the plate and he can flat out hit.

Now, I realize that Soto is still young and hasn't done it for a long stretch but that's not the point of this discussion. I'm talking about a one-year setting, 2009, as things stand right now.

Right now I think Geovany Soto is the best all-around catcher in the game.

What do you think?



  1. It's hard for me to go with Soto over Mauer, and this is coming from a Cub fan.

    I can see the argument against Mauer, and I guess we still don't know whether his back is going to limit him during the season. But when Mauer's right, he's about as good as it gets both on offense and defense.

    Molina, in my opinion, doesn't belong in the same category as the other guys you mentioned. That .300 AVG comes with no on-base skills, and he has no power. He's still a good player because of the excellent defense, but he should still be on the list after Russell Martin gets cut.

  2. Tough call on Mauer and Soto but I like the healthy power guy over the injury prone contact guy. Probably a bit unfair to Mauer - who I argued should have been MVP last 2 years in AL - but Soto is the better "all-around" player.

    To me, as a former catcher, Yadi is easily the best defensive catcher in the game and I find Martin's defensive game to he highly overrated. Plus he's gotten a bad reputation lately for being a guy who's not a great teammate, despite the gushing media stories about his "leadership."

    Could go either way there...

    Thanks Mike.