Monday, February 14, 2011

MLB Network's Top 10 Catchers Right Now; Suzuki Somehow Makes It

The cohesion of my affinity for MLB Network is obviously a result of the networks primary focus: baseball. As obvious as that may be, a lot of the decisions made in the "Top 10 Right Now" series has certainly reiterated a position of player-evaluation that works in sharp contrast with my own method. I'll admit that I may be helplessly biased toward the A's at times, but personally I only think two of the Athletics truly are in the top-10 at their positions right now. I'm well aware that MLB Network has also placed two Athletics in the Top-10 Right Now at their respective positions, (Andrew Bailey, and one I'll reveal after further reading). Obviously the A's strength is their pitching, and teams carry 5 starting-pitchers, (as opposed to one true starter at each non-pitching position) making it much harder for Anderson, Cahill, and Gio to crack the top 10 (which they did not). I'm actually completely fine with that. I think Tim Lincecum and Felix Hernandez are both better than Cliff Lee, while Josh Johnson and David Price probably could have been closer to the top as well, but the list wasn't necessarily "controversial" by any means.

Ironically, what's bothered me most is the one position-playing Oakland Athletic that did make a list - Kurt Suzuki. Now don't get me wrong, I love any national publicity for any Athletic. I don't dislike Suzuki one bit, but he was one of the worst-hitting MLB catchers to play in over 100 games last season, while throwing out just 21% of would-be base stealers. On the other hand, Daric Barton had the second-best WAR among AL 1st-basemen, and fails to get mentioned. That didn't surprise me at all, as I'm not expecting MLBN to start using WAR as their primary metric, but Barton was easily the most valuable position-player in Oakland last season. He was arguably the best defensive 1st-baseman in baseball last year (unarguably by UZR). He walked more than anyone in the AL, and finished second overall in walks to Prince Fielder. I wont start a petition for Barton to be on the list, but when Suzuki makes it based on Jeter-like intangible, "little-thing" nonsense, like handling his young pitching staff, it's unsettling to know Barton was left off.

Here's what the Top-10 Catchers Right Now looked like for the curious ones...
10. Matt Wieters
9. Kurt Suzuki
8. John Buck
7. Carlos Ruiz
6. Carlos Santana
5. Yadier Molina
4. Victor Martinez
3. Brian McCann
2. Buster Posey
1. Joe Mauer


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