One of the great statistical strides we have made in recent years is in appreciating the defensive metrics of catchers.
As Yadier Molina is being considered as an MVP candidate this season, it's not just because of his .334 batting average, but the difference he makes when he is behind the plate.
Here are the primary catchers for the NL contenders
|Ryan Hanigan (CIN)||51||1740||.224||.282||.375||.657||23.1%||6.6%||3.3%||30.1%||34.5%|
|A. J. Ellis (LAD)||86||3089||.233||.297||.345||.642||20.8%||7.7%||2.0%||28.2%||31.8%|
|Russell Martin (PIT)||93||3422||.237||.312||.346||.657||20.7%||8.7%||2.1%||28.2%||32.4%|
|Brian McCann (ATL)||67||2407||.237||.293||.358||.651||22.0%||6.4%||2.1%||28.8%||33.0%|
|Devin Mesoraco (CIN)||74||2564||.244||.309||.386||.694||21.2%||7.8%||2.6%||29.5%||33.3%|
|Yadier Molina (STL)||99||3485||.246||.306||.364||.670||21.3%||6.9%||2.0%||28.9%||34.1%|
|Miguel Montero (ARI)||89||3353||.257||.317||.407||.725||19.6%||7.2%||3.0%||28.7%||32.3%|
The biggest surprise?
For me, the biggest surprise was the effectiveness of Ryan Hanigan of the Reds.
First of all, when he's behind the plate he has the best batting average against of all the receivers being considered.
Next, his pitchers' strikeout rate is the highest of all the catchers and as you look at the chart you can see why: his called strike rate is the highest which means he's framing pitches well and even his chase rate is high which to me indicates his strength in staying steady behind the plate and not moving too much.
Of course, his home run allowed percentage is significantly higher than Yadier's.
Oh, don't forget that Hanigan is a .199 batter, 135 points less than the great Molina.
More stats to consider
You have to appreciate Yaddy's Rtot which indicates his play has saved 10 runs above average. This shows his MVP caliber defense.
Additionally, having A.J. Ellis behind the plate is clearly a plus for the Dodgers and there is no question that while Russell Martin is not the league's MVP, his value to the Pirates should not be minimized.
Make sure you take notice of Hanigan's, Molina's, and Martin's rate of throwing out base runners.
Here are their pitcher/catcher ERAs and all Runs allowed over 9 innings
While there might be concern about Brian McCann's rate of throwing out baserunners, check out his ERA.
Not only watch who's at the plate, watch who's behind the plate
We have six weeks of great regular season baseball ahead and watching the catcher play will only add to your enjoyment.