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. On day two of this series, we’ll look at MLB catchers ranked from 20 to 11.
Check out my ranking of catchers ranked 30-21 here.
20. Martin Maldonado, Houston Astros
2019: 105 games, .213/.293/.378 splits, .671 OPS, 12 Home Runs, 27 RBIs
Martin Maldonado began 2019 as Salvador Perez’s replacement in Kansas City. However, he later got traded to Chicago, where he spent four games before being traded again to Houston. Maldonado doesn’t provide much at the plate but prides himself on his great defense behind the dish. With Robinson Chirinos leaving, Maldonado projects to be Houston’s everyday starter in 2020.
19. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
2019: 114 games, .257/.320/.368 splits, .688 OPS, 7 Home Runs, 38 RBIs
Sure, this ranking may upset some people. That’s not only ok but also expected. However, fans have to realize Buster Posey is nowhere close to being the player he once was. In 2019, he had far and away the worst season of his career, hitting a career-low .257 with just seven home runs. Posey is still an above-average defender, but not at a gold glove level like he used to be. Within the organization, the Giants have his eventual replacement waiting in the wings in top prospect, Joey Bart.
18. Robinson Chirinos, Texas Rangers
2019: 114 games, .238/.347/.443 splits, .790 OPS, 17 Home Runs, 58 RBIs
Robinson Chirinos has hit at least 17 home runs in each of the past three seasons, displaying some power as a hitter. Defensively, Chirinos is great at pitch framing. However, he doesn’t have a great arm, throwing out just 21% of runners last season. Chirinos spent six seasons with Texas from 2013 to 2018, and returns in 2020 after spending last season witht the Astros.
17. Yadier Molina, St.Louis Cardinals
2019: 113 games, .270/.312/.399 splits, .711 OPS, 10 Home Runs, 57 RBIs
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. As with Posey, I’m sure this ranking will upset some people. However, Molina is a shell of his former self at age 37. Molina will go down as one of the best defensive catchers of all time as a nine-time gold glove winner. However, he had the worst year of his career behind the dish in 2019, throwing out 27% of runners, barely above the league average.
16. Kurt Suzuki, Washington Nationals
2019: 85 games, .264/.324/.486 splits, .809 OPS, 17 Home Runs, 63 RBIs
The Nationals have two great options at catcher in Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes. While the two will likely split time, Suzuki does have a slight edge over Gomes for 2020. Suzuki had one of the best years of his career at age 35, hitting for a .809 OPS and 102 OPS+. Heading into his age 36 season, Suzuki has shown no signs of slowing down.
15. Travis d’Arnaud, Atlanta Braves
2019: 103 games, .251/.312/.433 splits, .745 OPS, 16 Home Runs, 67 RBIs
After a strong 2019 campaign with the Mets, Dodgers, and Rays, Travis d’Arnoud signed with the Braves in free agency. While Tyler Flowers is another solid catching option, d’Arnaud projects to play more. D’Arnaud’s biggest issue has always been his health. It will go a long way for Atlanta if he can stay healthy for most of the 2020 season.
14. Carson Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks
2019: 111 games, .245/.348/.478 splits, .826 OPS, 18 Home Runs, 47 RBIs
If you haven’t heard of Carson Kelly, you wouldn’t be alone. However, all MLB fans should learn this guy’s name. In his first season as a full-time catcher, Kelly raked at the plate with an .826 OPS, and 112 OPS+. Defensively, he was great as well, throwing out 32% of runners. Heading into his age 25 season, Kelly should only continue to improve.
13. Tom Murphy, Seattle Mariners
2019: 75 games, .273/.324/.535 splits, .858 OPS, 18 Home Runs, 40 RBIs
Tom Murphy is another player who flew completely under the radar but quietly had a great 2019 campaign. With Omar Narvaez leaving for Milwaukee, Murphy will be the everyday starter for 2020. In 281 plate appearances, Murphy had an elite 129 OPS+, while slugging .535. He has a cannon of an arm, but his glove needs to improve for him to take the next step towards the elite level of MLB catchers.
12. Jorge Alfaro, Miami Marlins
2019: 130 games, .262/.312/.425 splits, .736 OPS, 18 Home Runs, 57 RBIs
Back in February, Alfaro was the top catcher on my three breakout catcher candidates for 2020. In his second full MLB season, Alfaro quietly played well for the lackluster Miami Marlins. A part of the JT Realmuto-Phillies trade, Alfaro has an absolute cannon behind the plate, throwing out 33% of runners. His biggest weakness is his strikeout issues as he whiffed an alarming 154 times in 2019.
11. Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
2018: 129 games, .235/.274/.439 splits, .713 OPS, 27 Home Runs, 80 RBIs
Salvador Perez is one of the toughest players to place on this ranking after he missed all of 2019 due to Tommy John Surgery. Perez has been one of the best catchers in the MLB since 2013, but it’s unclear if he’ll be able to return to all-star form. Perez made the all-star team every year from 2013 to 2018 and earned five gold gloves. If he can perform at a high level again, it will go a long way for the Royals in 2020.
Come back tomorrow for my ranking of MLB’s top ten catchers!
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