I know it isn’t exactly baseball season. We’re in the midst of the NFL playoffs, the NBA is starting to heat up (even though the Knicks are cooling off), and Rutgers almost beat #4 Michigan State on the road the other night. The NHL is also at the midway point of its season, having announced its All-Star rosters this week (chill hockey hardos, BTB is a puck-friendly blog.) But ever since the Yankees’ postseason run, I couldn’t bring myself to get out of baseball mode. After the Giancarlo Stanton trade, I was fully thrust back into it. Yet unfortunately, this is easily the slowest MLB offseason I can remember. So how do you blog about baseball in the offseason when no one is getting signed? Do a top-ten ranking of the best players at every position right now. I figured catcher was the logical place to start, and as always I’ll do my best to keep my Yankee-fan bias out of these rankings.
10. Wilson Ramos, Tampa Bay Rays
Though Ramos’ 2017 campaign was less than stellar, he was coming off of a torn ACL. That’s no easy task for any athlete, especially a catcher. His 2016 was spectacular, however, when he batted .307 with 22 HR and 80 RBI for the Nationals. Let’s see if he can put it together again for his first full season with the Rays.
9. Brian McCann, Astros
McCann split time behind the plate with Evan Gattis last year while also seeing at-bats at DH in the Astros’ stacked lineup. Hitting 18 HR and 62 RBI in only 97 games, McCann clearly still has something left in the tank. How much more time he’ll spend catching, however, is another issue.
8. Jonathan Lucroy, Free Agent
Lucroy had a down year in 2017 to say the least, hitting .265 with 6 homers and 40 RBI in 123 games for the Rangers and Rockies. This is the same guy we saw hit .292 with 24 homers and 81 RBI just a year earlier. If he can find the right situation, Lucroy can certainly be a difference maker once again in 2018.
7. Yasmani Grandal, Dodgers
The Dodger lineup is stacked top to bottom, and their backstop is no exception. Grandal hit 22 homers last year after hitting 27 in 2016, all while managing one of the top pitching staffs in the league.
6. J.T. Realmuto, Marlins
Realmuto reportedly wants out of Miami, and for good reason. After trading stars like Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon this offseason, a major rebuild is underway. Realmuto’s trade value is certainly high, as he is only 26 and has played great for Miami the last two seasons. You hate to see players like him and Christian Yelich stuck in situations where not only is their team rebuilding, but there seems to be no hope in the near future.
5. Willson Contreras, Cubs
After winning a World Series in his rookie campaign, Contreras showed no signs of slowing down in 2017. He hit .276 with 21 HR and 74 RBI. In a lineup that features young stars like Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, the 25-year old Contreras often gets overlooked. He shouldn’t, as he is one of the most promising young catchers in baseball.
4. Yadier Molina, Cardinals
Molina has been one of the game’s best catchers for what feels like forever now. The eight-time Gold Glover excels not only behind the plate, but at it. The career .284 hitter hit .273 with 18 homers and 82 RBI in 2017.
3. Salvador Perez, Royals
The 5-time All-Star, 4-time Gold Glover and 2015 World Series MVP is still one of the game’s best. He’s eclipsed 20 home runs in each of the last three seasons, and like Molina is one of the best two-way catchers in baseball.
2. Gary Sanchez, Yankees
I told you I’d keep my Yankee bias out of it, but if you don’t have Sanchez this high then you haven’t been watching baseball. His breakout 2016 was followed up with a stellar 2017 in which he hit .278 with 33 homers and 90 RBI after missing the first month of the season with an injury. Not to mention his stellar postseason, which included three home runs. However, Sanchez has a lot of work to do on the defensive side of the plate. He has a great arm, but his ability to block pitches in the dirt is not nearly where the Yankees need it to be.
1. Buster Posey, Giants
Other than Jose Altuve being the game’s best second baseman (spoiler alert), there may not be an easier call than saying Buster Posey is the best at his respective position. As the owner of three World Series rings, a Gold Glove, an MVP award, and a batting title, Posey has been the best catcher in baseball pretty much since he burst onto the scene in 2010. He hasn’t stopped since, as he hit .320 with 12 homers and 67 RBI last year. Young stars like Realmuto, Contreras and Sanchez are certainly coming on strong, but make no mistake, Posey is once again the best backstop in baseball going into 2018.
Check back for more Top 10 countdowns in the coming days and weeks!