Earlier today we took Steve Henson behind the woodshed for referring to Dioner Navarro as a “middling” catcher and for suggesting that if the Rays have any interest in winning, they should draft Buster Posey. A little voice in our head kept telling us that we we weren’t doing Navi enough justice in our evaluation. So we dug a little deeper.
Heading into tonight’s game, Navarro has an OPS of .831 (.391 OBP + .440 SLG). That seems pretty good, but we wanted to know exactly how good that is for a young catcher.
In the expansion era (since 1961) only 11 catchers posted an OPS higher than .831 in their age-24 season or younger. The list is a who’s who of modern catchers…
There are quite a few Hall-of-Famers and near-Hall-of-Famers on those lists. But hey, maybe Steve Henson thinks Johnny Bench, Mike Piazza, Carlton Fisk, Joe Torre and Gary Carter were “middling” catchers also.
[Ed. note: when running this through Baseball-Reference’s “Play Index” we only included catchers that had enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting crown. If we removed that restriction, the only difference in both lists is the addition of Brian McCann’s ’06 campaign (age 22), in which he was 10 plate appearances short of qualifying. He would be #1 on the first list with a .960 OPS and #5 on the second list with 143 OPS+]