I was listening the the great Effectively Wild podcast by the Baseball Prospectus crew. I was a bit behind and I caught them having a discussion about who would win between a team comprised solely of first basemen or a team comprised solely of catchers. This got me intrigued, so I decided to build this team. Because I enjoy prospects, if the need arises, I will consider prospects eligible for the team. I decided to pick players that have at least the smallest of chances to field their position. I don’t want to just get the best bats in the lineup and hope for the best.
I could have just thrown out the best offensive catchers and enjoyed the visuals in my head of them playing center and short. But this makes it a bit more interesting. Some top hitting catchers may be left off because of this. I, of course, missed out on the ultimate test when Russell Martin did NOT play shortstop for the Canada WBC team. Without further ado, here is the Front Office All-Catcher team.
Starting at Catcher – Brian McCann (New York Yankees)
One of the newest recipients of a spending binge check from the Yankees, McCann is probably the best bat at the position and also is surprisingly good behind the plate. He won’t throw out many runners, but he is a surprisingly good framer. I probably should have put Yadier Molina here, but I decided to utilize his arm elsewhere.
Starting at First Base – Carlos Ruiz (Philadelphia Phillies)
A career .274/.358/.412 hitter, slightly better in recent years, sometimes getting above the .300 mark and find his way to double digit homers. He lacks the ideal “pop” of the prototypical first baseman, but the bat plays and plays well. Short of keeping him at catcher, this is the best place for Ruiz as his body type won’t allow for much elsewhere.
Starting at Second Base – Matt Wieters (Baltimore Orioles)
What a waste of a plus-plus arm. But, what can you do, sacrifices must be made. Wieters was described (albeit in 2009) as being extremely agile and athletic behind the plate by Kevin Goldstein. That is all I need to hear to try the 6’5″ experiment at second base. His size alone might give him the least semblance of range (it won’t) and the arm might make up for the short comings (it won’t). But, this is the best I can muster as this bat also needs to get into the lineup.
Starting at Third Base – Carlos Santana (Cleveland Indians)
Where I would have liked to put Buster Posey because there has been talk that he could have the chops for third because of his athleticism, in real life, not in some bizarro world. Alas, I need him elsewhere. For third base, I’ll go with the unsurprising Carlos Sanatana. While it is still up in the air, there is talk he could play third for the Indians this year. With a power stroke and a strong arm, he fits the offensive and defensive profile of a third basemen…minus any semblance of a likely quick-twitch use of his muscles.
Starting at Short Stop – Buster Posey (San Francisco Giants)
Ahhh, the hardest position on the diamond generally speaking…and the hardest to find an adequate player out of a catcher’s body. He would surely be terrible, but since Russell Martin was the only catcher to volunteer his services at short stop, I went with Buster Posey. This pick covers me in two ways, it could be taken as the just pick a great offensive guy and live with the bad defense route, but, it is also one of the few semi-athletic catchers out there. Not to mention he played short stop in high school! There is the key! But, in all seriousness, he would be TERRIBLE at short stop, but he’d likely be the best shot at having something resembling passable at the position.
Starting at Left Field – Salvador Perez (Kansas City Royals)
Well, the arm won’t be a complete waste here…the athleticism (lack there of) can be hidden here and the bat can be allowed to play, .292/.323/.433. Left field is one of the few positions that a few catchers could hide here and play, so this was sort of a get the bat in the lineup type move as Perez has one of the better bats in my opinion.
Starting at Center Field – Jonathon Lucroy (Milwaukee Brewers)
A very uninspired attempt at trying to find the “fastest” catcher, basically the only hope one has of fielding a passable center fielder from a catcher. I found that Lucroy had 9 steals last season and only got caught once. I’m willing to bet some of these were generous non-defensive indifference, but still, he must possess some sense of speed above his brethren at catcher. He also seems to have a svelte build, being listed at 6’0″ – 195 lbs.
Starting at Right Field – Yadier Molina (St. Louis Cardinals)
The desire to stick him as the natural catcher was enormous, but I figured I would put someone with a much less-forgiving body at catcher, which says something about the crop. Yadier Molina is no natural runner, but he has one of the most feared arms in all of baseball, in accuracy and strength. He may not get to everything, but runners would be wary to try and take the extra bag with him plodding toward the ball. Molina may hope that runners try to take advantage of his lack of speed so that he can routinely gun down runners at third.
I think I immediately regret not putting Yadier Molina behind the plate in place of McCann, and I wish that I could have found a way to fit Evan Gattis into the lineup, possibly in lieu of Carlos Ruiz at first. But, as I said, I wanted to make defensive possibilities an issue and not just throw the best bats on the diamond somewhere and hope for the best. Granted it comes down to that in some spots in essence, but the smallest bit of logic in the move allows me to sleep at night. Tear it apart if you will…enjoy.