Ladies and Gentlemen: 30 days, 30 MLB position rankings. Nine positions and the top starting pitcher ranked from each team in three parts each. Each player on the list is based on who the projected starter is for a team for the 2020 season by position. In day one of this ranking, we’ll look at MLB catchers from 30-21.
30. Tony Wolters, Colorado Rockies
2019: 121 games, .262/.337/.329 splits, .666 OPS, 1 Home Run, 42 RBIs
Heading into his fifth MLB season, Wolters has seven career home runs in just under 1,000 at-bats. A player rarely has a higher OBP than Slugging, but that has been the case for Wolters in each of the last three seasons. Oh, and not to mention these poor numbers are despite the fact he gets to play at Coors Field. Defensively, Wolters is solid and threw out 26% of runners last season.
29. Sean Murphy, Oakland Athletics
2019: 20 games, .245/.333/.566 splits, .899 OPS, 4 Home Runs, 8 RBIs
Sean Murphy showed a lot of pop at the plate in September of last season. However, he simply has not played enough MLB games for me to be able to rank him much higher. At age 26, Murphy will get the chance to be the A’s everyday catcher after Josh Phegley signed with the Cubs.
28. Tucker Barnhart, Cincinnati Reds
2019: 114 games, .231/.328/.380 splits, .708 OPS, 11 Home Runs, 40 RBIs
Tucker Barnhart hit a career-high 11 home runs last season. Barnhart won a gold glove back in 2017 but was much worse behind the dish in 2019. After throwing out 44% of runners during that gold glove year, he fell to 24% in 2018 and 23% last season. As a switch hitter, Barnhart will likely sit against left-handed pitchers, platooning with Curt Casali for 2020.
27. Pedro Severino, Baltimore Orioles
2019: 96 games, .249/.321/.420 splits, .740 OPS, 13 Home Runs, 44 RBIs
A backup in Washington for the first four years of his career, Pedro Severino finally got the chance to see regular playing time in 2019. Severino and Chance Sisco split time almost evenly, but Severino projects to be the opening day man behind the dish. Sisco has a slight advantage behind the dish, but Severino is a much better hitter.
26. Jacob Stallings, Pittsburgh Pirates
2019: 71 games, .262/.325/.382 splits, .708 OPS, 6 Home Runs, 13 RBIs
After brief MLB appearances in each season from 2016-18, Jacob Stallings finally got the opportunity to play last season. With Francisco Cervelli no longer in Pittsburgh, Stalling projects to be the everyday starting catcher for Pittsburgh in 2020. Heading into his age 30 season, Stalling can capitalize on his opportunity to play.
25. Austin Romine, Detroit Tigers
2019: 72 games, .281/.310/.439 splits, .748 OPS, 8 Home Runs, 35 RBIs
A longtime backup with the New York Yankees, Austin Romine projects to be a starting catcher for the first time in his career. Romine has a slight edge for the starting job over Grayson Greiner after James McCann left in the offseason. Romine is a solid defensive catcher but struggles at getting on base with his career OBP sitting at a low .281.
24. Jason Castro, Los Angeles Angels
2019: 79 games, .232/.332/.435 splits, .767 OPS, 13 Home Runs, 30 RBIs
A nine-year MLB veteran, Jason Castro signed with Angels in the offseason and projects to be the everyday starter. After missing most of 2018, Castro struggled with Minnesota in 2019 and lost his playing time to Mitch Garver. Castro’s best ability as a catcher is his ability to frame pitches. However, at this point in his career, he doesn’t provide much at the plate.
23. Mike Zunino, Tampa Bay Rays
2019: 90 games, .165/.232/.312 splits, .544 OPS, 9 Home Runs, 32 RBIs
Mike Zunino was one of the toughest catchers to place on this list. Last year he was one of the worst hitters in the MLB with an OPS+ at an abysmal mark of 44. That being said, he remains one of the best defensive catchers in the MLB, only allowing four passed balls in 2019. In 2017, Zunino also hit 25 home runs with an OPS of .840. It will be interesting to see if he can regain his power in 2020.
22. Reese McGuire, Toronto Blue Jays
2019: 30 games, .299/.346/.526 splits, .872 OPS, 5 Home Runs, 11 RBIs
Back in February, I listed Reese McGuire as a breakout catcher candidate for the 2020 MLB season. Despite having 44 games of MLB experience, he has shown he can have a serious impact at the MLB level. McGuire came into spring training in a battle with Danny Jansen for the starting catcher spot. If he can get regular playing time, he could be in for a big season in 2020.
21. Francisco Mejia, San Diego Padres
2019: 79 games, .265/.316/.438 splits, .754 OPS, 8 Home Runs, 22 RBIs
Francisco Mejia was another catcher I listed on my list of breakout catchers for 2020. Mejia has the skills to be a solid hitter at the plate but struggles at times behind the dish. If the season does happen, the NL teams will use a DH, and the Padres may use Mejia at this position. That would allow Austin Hedges, a much more capable defender, to catch behind the dish.
Come back tomorrow for day two of my catchers ranking!
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