- Russell Martin, Blue Jays
- Gary Sanchez, Yankees
- Welington Castillo, Orioles
- Sandy Leon, Red Sox
- Wilson Ramos (injured)/Derek Norris, Rays
We’ve only just begun, and already my April rankings are laughably wrong. The Blue Jays, who I thought would get the most production from their catching spot in 2017, instead got the least. Their .185 average and .604 OPS from catchers were the worst marks in the AL. Martin, who missed a month with a strained left oblique, was one of six players to start at catcher for Toronto (including former Orioles prospect Michael Ohlman for three games). Three of them had averages below the Mendoza line.
Sanchez took the mantle as the top catcher in the division, blasting 27 home runs as a backstop (and six more homers at other positions) to build on his impressive 2016 rookie season. The Yankees weren’t thrilled with Sanchez’s pitch-blocking ability, but his potent offense covered up his deficiencies with the glove.
Speaking of offense-first catchers, Castillo was a hit in his first — and possibly only — season with the Orioles, hitting 20 homers (19 as a catcher) and posting an .813 OPS. He also threw out 49 percent of attempted base stealers, leading the league. A knock on Castillo, though, is that most Orioles pitchers had a much higher ERA with him behind the plate than backup Caleb Joseph.
In my April rankings, I wrote that Boston’s Leon would need to prove his breakout 2016 season wasn’t a fluke. Well, he didn’t, crashing to a .225 average and .644 OPS. Christian Vazquez ended up with more playing time than Leon and did a solid job, and both were good defenders.
For the Rays, Norris was a black hole for the first half of the season, but Ramos restored order once he came off the DL in late June. Unremarkable backup Jesus Sucre had almost as many starts as each of them.
- Sanchez, Yankees
- Castillo/Joseph, Orioles
- Leon/Vazquez, Red Sox
- Ramos/Norris/Sucre, Rays
- A bunch of people, Blue Jays
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