Ranking the NL East: Catchers

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Sep 21, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies catcher

Carlos Ruiz

(51) chases a loose ball during the sixth inning against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

# 1 – Carlos Ruiz (Philadelphia Phillies)

Ruiz is the old man on this list as he’ll be playing the 2015 season at the age of 36. Still, this guy can play.  If the Phillies refuse to trade him for someone that will actually help the club years from now when they’re ready to contend, then Ruiz is my pick for the best backstop in the East. That doesn’t make me some kind of hero. The numbers back it up.

Since 2009, in any season where Ruiz has played more than 100 games, he’s produced no less than 2.4 fWAR while topping out at 5.2 in 2012. Last season he was somewhere in between those two, producing a season of 3.2 fWAR. His defense placed him sixth in the Majors in Fangraphs’  defensive metrics.

In all likelihood, Ruiz is due for a drop off and this rating is too high. Dating back to the beginnings of organized baseball, there have been precisely 32 individual seasons where a catcher has produced a season of two or more fWAR after turning 36 with the best of those belonging to guys named Carlton Fisk, Bill Dickey, and Bob Boone. The odds aren’t exactly in Ruiz’s favor.

Consider me an optimist. Ruiz is solid with the bat, but even in the hitter’s paradise of Citizens Bank Park Ruiz has put up okay power numbers. He has topped double figures just once when he hit 16 home runs in 2012. That year looks more and more like an aberration as he typically hits six to eight homers while driving in 30-40 runs.

Steamer projects him out to .260/.335/.384 with eight home runs. It’s his defense that keeps him in this conversation. He doesn’t have Ramos’ cannon or the athleticism of Bethancourt, but he does a great job.

Now, it remains to be seen if he’ll be with the team for the entire year.

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