AL East 2017 Positional Rankings Review: Catcher

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Manny Machado /
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Christian Vasquez
BOSTON, MA – SEPTEMBER 24: Christian Vasquez /

3. Boston Red SoxChristian Vazquez, Sandy Leon

The Red Sox only used three catchers, Vazquez, Leon and Blake Swihart, who appeared in four games at the position. during my preview, I wondered if Leon’s 2016 was a fluke. The answer came back as a resounding yes, although he and Vasquez nearly split time at the position, with Vazquez catching 85 games and Leon 77.

Vazquez, on the other hand, had a successful season, hitting .290/.330/.404 with five home runs, 18 doubles, 32 RBIs and 43 runs. Vazquez doesn’t have a lot in the power department, but the batting average makes up for it. He had an offensive WAR of 1.4 and a defensive WAR of 0.3.

Vazquez has always been highly regarded behind the plate, and proved that in 2017. His fielding percentage was slightly below league average, however his range was much higher and he threw out 42 percent of attempted base stealers against. Much like Sanchez, he did have issues with passed balls and errors, ranking in the top five in the American League in both categories. In fact, he has been in the top five in every season in passed balls.

As for Leon, many wondered if he was a late bloomer who could capitalize off his .310/.369/.476 season in 2016. In one word, no.

Leon hit .225/.290/.354 with seven home runs, 14 doubles, 39 runs batted in and 32 runs in 77 starts behind the plate. In fact, his offensive WAR was -0.1, while his defensive WAR showed some value at 1.3.

Before 2016, Leon was always known as a defensive catcher, and his reputation trended back that direction with a tough 2017 at the plate. Leon did throw out 37 percent of base stealers, and had good range numbers behind the plate for the Red Sox.

It is likely this same duo will return behind the dish in 2018 for the Red Sox, with Vasquez as the primary starter.