Buster Posey has proven himself as one of MLB’s best catchers, but where does he rank amongst the game’s elite?
September 6th, 2015 marked the 100th career home run for the San Francisco Giants catcher. This was his 17th of the season. Posey had been sitting on home run 99 since August 3rd against the Atlanta Braves. With his 100th Posey moves into sole possession of 20th in the Giants’ all time home run list, breaking his tie with Jeffrey Leonard and is one behind Chili Davis for 19th.
So where does Posey rank among the best of the best?
8. A.J. Ellis, Los Angeles Dodgers
Ellis has been a solid catcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers since he began as their everyday starter back in 2012. Earning his praise from skipper Don Mattingly for his ability to work the count and his high on base percentage, he hit .270 with 13 homeruns and 52 RBI in his first campaign as a full-time starter.
The 2013 season had A.J. being a big part of the Dodgers clinching the NL West. He even had serious considerations for the Gold Glove Award. In 2014 Ellis suffered a knee injury that landed him on the 15-day DL. But upon return he caught Clayton Kershaw’s no-hitter on June 8th 2014. 2015 Ellis avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one year, $4.25 million contract.
7. Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers
Jonathan Lucroy of the Milwaukee Brewers was called up in May of 2010. He finished his rookie season with a .253 batting average and then went on a streak where he had only one passed ball in 655 games. That’s impressive.
He had a career high of 18 home runs in 2013 and in 2014 he was selected by players to be in the All-Star game. He inadvertently became the starter for the NL after Yadier Molina became injured. He recorded 2 doubles and 2 RBIs becoming the first catcher in MLB history with 2 doubles one All-Star game.
6. Wilson Ramos, Washington Nationals
Signed by the Minnesota Twins as a non-drafted free agent in July of 2004, Ramos caught 43% of attempted base-stealers in his minor league career and posted a .987 fielding percentage. He was ranked as the Twins’ third best prospect in 2009 by Baseball America and #71 in all of minor league baseball. He was called up by the Twins in May of 2009 because of a Joe Mauer injury. But after Mauer returned behind the plate he was sent back down to Triple-A Rochester Red Wings.
On July 29th, 2010 Ramos was traded to the Washington Nationals. In 2011 Ramos was chosen by Baseball America as the catcher on its All-Rookie team. After a couple of injuries sidelined him in the 2012-13 seasons he lost his starting position to Kurt Suzuki. But when he came back in July 4th of ’13 he went 3-4 with a 3-run homerun and 5 RBI. He had a solid July which he hit .302/.335/.540 with 4 HR and 17 RBI in 18 games. This stellar run him the starting position back over Suzuki and he finished the year with the Nationals as starting catcher with 16 HR and 59 RBI in 78 games.
5. Matt Wieters, Baltimore Oriles
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Wieters has been a solid catcher for the Baltimore Orioles his whole career. Starting out his rookie season in 2009, he quickly turned into a star. On July 1st, 2012 he was selected to represent the Orioles in the All-Star for the second consecutive year. And in October of that same year it was announced that he had won his second Gold Glove Award. 2013 had Wieters hitting a low batting average of .235 but with 22 homeruns and a career high of 29 doubles.
4. Russell Martin, Toronto Blue Jays
Martin has had quite the career starting with the Dodgers and ending up with the Toronto Blue Jays. In May of 2007 he broke the Dodgers’ franchise record for single-season steals by a catcher with 12 to lead the league. He represented the Dodgers in the All-Star game that same year. At the end of the season he was awarded the Golden Glove and Silver Slugger awards.
In 2011 he signed a contract with the New York Yankees for one year at $6 million. He began the season as the Yankees’ everyday starting catcher and was elected to the 2011 AL All-Star game. In November of 2014 Martin signed a two year contract worth $17 million with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In the NL wild card game in 2013, Martin helped the Pirates defeat the Cincinnati Reds 8-2 with a pair of solo HR’s. It was the Pirates’ first postseason victory in 21 years. In November of 2014 Martin signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. He become R.A. Dickey’s catcher because Martin had success catching knuckle-ballers. On June 2nd Martin became the first Blue Jay to steal home since Brett Lawry did so in 2012.
3. Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
Perez has been a stellar catcher for he Kanas City Royals since his call-up in 2011. His first game he picked off two base runners and caught five popups—both uncommon occurrences for the Royals that season. He batted .331 with 3 home runs and 21 runs driven in 39 games that year. 2012 saw Perez signing a five-year, $7 million extension with the Royals that included three club options. Most notable for Perez, however, was in 2014 when he logged in more starts (143) than any other catcher in the Major League. He played 150 games altogether with a .292 batting average with 28 doubles, 17 home runs and 70 RBI. In the 2014 World Series Game 1, Perez hit a home run off Madison Bumgarner, representing the only run given up by Bumgarner in five WS games. In 2015 Perez was elected to his 3rd All-Star game.
2. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
Posey is having an absolutely amazing career with the San Francisco Giants. Called up in May of 2010 Posey had played first base mostly through the end of June until Benji Molina was traded to the Texas Rangers. After that, he became the Giants’ everyday catcher. 2010 also saw Posey as the NL Rookie of the year finishing in first place with 20 votes.
Other awards he received his rookie year were the NL Players Choice Awards, which he was named by his peers. He was named the catcher on Baseball America‘s All-Rookie team and the 2010 Topps Major League Rookie All-Star team. He also finished 11th that year for NL Most Valuable Player.
In the NLDS series against the Atlanta Braves in 2010, Posey batted .375. During Game 4 of the NLCS against the Phillies, Buster became the first rookie to get four hits in an NLCS game. In Game 4 of the World Series against the Texas Rangers that same year he hit his first season home run, which made him the fifth rookie catcher to hit a home run in a World Series. Posey won his first Championship ring that year as well.
In the season following his amazing rookie year, Posey suffered a fractured fibula which required surgery and promptly ended his season. Upon returning to the game in 2012 Posey seemed like he never skipped a beat after his injury. Winning the NL Comeback Player of the Year, he also received the Willie Mac Award from the Giants Organization. He won the Silver Slugger Award as well, and after the season the the Baseball Writers’ Association of America named him the NL MVP. In game 4 of the 2014 WS he hit a two-run blast and helped the Giants sweep the Tigers, giving Posey his 2nd championship ring.
In 2013, eligible for arbitration for the first time, Posey signed a one-year $8 million deal with the Giants prior to spring training. In March, however, he signed an eight-year contract extension worth $167 million. He also played his second straight All-Star game. Posey was also a huge part of the 4-3 defeat of the Kansas City Royals, giving him his 3rd ring in just 5 years. On September 6th of 2015 Buster Posey hit his 100th career home run.
1. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
Yadier Molina has probably been the most valuable player to the St. Louis Cardinals since his call-up in June of 2004. He took over for Mike Matheny (now the Cardinals skipper) when he went on the DL with a strained rib. Molina appeared in 51 games and batted .267 with 2 homeruns and 15 RBI in 151 plate appearances. 2005 saw Molina riddled with injuries and his offensive performance dropped of from that of his rookie year. Even with the injuries that season, defensively he had a career high of nine pickoffs and a 64% caught-stealing percentage by throwing out 25 of 39 would-be base stealers. He posted a .252 batting average with eight home runs and 49 RBI—darn good coming off the DL. One of his best performances came during Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS vs the New York Mets with the series tied at three games apiece. Molina hit a two-run home run which gave the Cards a 3-1 edge over the Mets. That year also marked his first WS ring.
On January 14th, 2008 the Cardinals and Molina agreed to a four-year, $15.5 million contract solidifying him as their everyday starting catcher for the next four years. After signing the contract he enjoyed a breakout offensive season, finishing with a new career-high .304 batting average—his first .300-plus season—in hits (135), OBP (.349), SLG (.392), runs (37) and RBI (56).
In 2009 he was selected by the fans to represent the Cardinals to his first-ever All-Star game as the top vote-getter among catchers with 2,641,467. Clearly, he was a fan favorite. Molina also earned MVP considerations that year. He won his third consecutive Gold Glove Award in 2010 and was voted fourth toughest player to strike out.
By making the playoffs in 2011, Molina became the first catcher in Cardinals franchise history to have appeared in five postseasons. 2011 also gave Molina his second WS ring. He batted .333 and set a team world record with nine RBI. More awards were collected by the star catcher of the Cardinals in the years following. And, he has yet to show signs of slowing down.
The Cardinals are running away with the NL Central Division with a guaranteed trip to the postseason and Molina is in the hunt for another WS ring.
So there you have it. Buster Posey comes in at a close second only to Yadier Molina. After hitting his 100th career home run he is sure to rank among the greats if he keeps up his current pace in the years to come. Posey has many years left, and the sky is the limit.