AL East 2017 Positional Rankings Review: Catcher

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Manny Machado /
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2. Baltimore OriolesWelington Castillo, Caleb Joseph

The preseason rankings wondered if Castillo could improve his defense (he did), Joseph could rediscover his bat (he did) and Chance Sisco would find playing time (he did, but only because the Orioles fell apart in September.

However, catcher was a successful position for the Orioles in 2017.

Castillo started 86 games behind the plate, despite several trips to the disabled list, including one for a testicular injury (a rite of passage for Oriole catchers, it seems). He hit .282/.323/.490 in what was his best offensive season as a catcher. Castillo added 20 home runs, 11 doubles, 53 runs batted in and 44 runs for the Orioles.

Castillo had an offensive WAR of 2.4 and a defensive WAR of 0.3. Castillo was 25 runs above replacement level.

Beef’s range is nowhere near league average, and that remains the biggest knock on the catcher. However, he cut down on both his errors and passed balls in 2017, and also threw out 49 percent of all base stealers, the best rate in the American League.

Castillo also helped the Orioles turn nine double plays from behind the plate,, the best number in the league.

As for Joseph, he rebounded in a big way from a tough 2016. Caleb hit .256/.287/.413 with eight home runs, 14 doubles, 28 runs batted in and 31 runs scored. He had a 0.9 offensive WAR, and a 1.2 defensive WAR.

It was not a surprise to most that Joseph did a better job with Oriole pitchers than Castillo did. However, he only threw out 18 percent of attempted base stealers, with range just below league average.

With Cisco appearing ready for the major leagues, and Castillo likely to opt out of his contract and leave, one would have to think that Joseph and Cisco will likely be the Oriole catchers in 2018. Most Oriole fans will have no concerns over that.