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Will We Ever See Great Offensive Catchers Again?

By Mike Silva ~ June 2nd, 2010. Filed under: Mike Silva.

With the June draft approaching it’s no secret the Nationals will make Bryce Harper the #1 pick in just a few short days. What is still up in the air is what position Harper will play once he becomes a pro. In a recent SI article by Tom Verducci Scott Boras was quoted as saying the following:

Harper is looking at four years of minor league ball if he catches, and perhaps half of that if he plays the outfield. Boras doesn’t want him catching. “No baseball person in his right mind will have the guy catch,” says Boras, who believes that catching puts a valuable hitter at too great a risk of wear and tear.

As John Manuel of Baseball America points out Harper has played third base, outfield, and caught this year. The bat is what makes Harper special as I have heard some say he has 40 homer potential. The Boras quote about wear and tear with catching is what got me thinking: Will we ever see another great offensive catcher in the mold of Mike Piazza, Jorge Posada, and Joe Mauer? I don’t even think we will see individuals that mirror the offensive careers of Gary Carter or Carlton Fisk.

Mauer very well may be the last offensive standout behind the plate for a long time. Yes, there is Buster Posey and Jesus Montero, but the Giants are already putting Posey at first base. If he hits as well has his MILB numbers state (.969 OPS) I could see the team moving him to save his legs. In the case of Montero he may not even be good enough defensively to ever catch a big league game.

Sure, there will be solid offensive catchers like Brian McCann or prospects like Austin Romine and Tony Sanchez, but none of those guys are in the historic offensive class of a Piazza or Posada. From the reports on Harper he is every bit the offensive catcher that Mike Piazza was and probably more upside on defense.

Alas, we will never know since the “tools of ignorance” are too demanding to waste on a hitter as talented as Bryce Harper. Sure, we will see solid catchers down the pike (I think Austin Romine is going to be a lot better than people think), but whether we see anyone with the offensive credentials of some of the recent star backstops is very much up for debate.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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3 Responses to Will We Ever See Great Offensive Catchers Again?

  1. Shamik

    Only if a team is stacked at the corner outfield spots and at 1st.

  2. Stu Baron

    Maybe I’m splitting hairs, but how can you mention Posada (.278-249-978) in the same breath as Piazza (.308-427-1335) , and Mauer (although Mauer, at .326-74-421, has to produce for several more years to be on a par with Piazza)? In fact Posada, at least to date, isn’t even in Carter’s class (.262-324-1225).

  3. CC

    70% of runners took a base off of Piazza. He gave up at least as many runs as he added. Piazza was a wash- but he did have a really great PR team.

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