5. Derek Norris (WSH)
2016 Stats: 125 G, .186/.255/.328, .583 OPS, 77 H, 14 HR, 50 R, 42 RBI, 9 SB, 36 BB, 139 SO and 0.3 bWAR.
The Nats were the premier team in the NL East last season and for them to have a player ranked last in a position is surprising. The loss of Ramos is a huge blow for the Nats as he was not only an excellent catcher, but one of better overall hitters on their roster last season.
The Washington Nationals acquired Norris in December by sending minor-league pitcher Pedro Avila to the San Diego Padres. It was a low-risk move for them as they didn’t give up much to get Norris. He was originally drafted by the Nats in the fourth round back in 2007.
Norris had a statistically horrible season by compiling career lows in about every category except home runs. I do expect Norris to rebound with the Nats, as he has been a reliable hitter in his career. It will also help that he doesn’t have to play half of his games in very spacious Petco Park.
One concern with Norris is that he isn’t great at throwing baserunners out. He caught just 21 percent in 2016, and his career mark is only slightly higher at 26 percent. Norris will still provide some added value with his power and should have a respectable season for the Nats.
It will be interesting to see how Norris handles the pitching staff for the Nationals. This was the biggest strength for the club last season, and hopefully, things will remain the same going into the 2017 season.