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End Of Season Grades: Catchers

| On 01, Oct 2011

Thursday began a two week, end of season grade and breakdown by each position. Certainly after the wild ride the 2011 Cleveland Indians took fans on, grades, projections and areas of improvement are all sought for 2012, with the goal being a playoff team next season. Today, we examine the catchers. Be sure to check out our previous features.

Previous Stories
Starting Pitchers
Fifth Starters

Carlos Santana
.239 AVG, 27 HR, 89 RBI
Grade: B

Santana has been regarded as a top prospect since the Indians acquired him for Casey Blake in July 2008 and part of the reason the Tribe was willing to part with Victor Martinez. Santana was supposed to be a cornerstone behind the plate, growing with a young pitching staff. However, it seems Indians brass has quickly become frustrated with his defense and some times lethargic defensive play in his first full season in the big leagues. Many times it seems as if Santana has mental lapses behind the plate, falling asleep with runners on base, whether it be a cheap stolen base or a lazy passed ball.

Santana’s value to the Indians, and as an All-Star caliber player, is best fulfilled when he is behind the plate. However, the defensive mishaps he had through much of the summer can not continue to happen on a team that hopes to be in contention, and continues to score runs. He doesn’t have to be a defensive star, but he can’t be a player that other teams look to take advantage of, either. Chris Antonetti said in September the team intends for Santana to be their everyday catcher next season.

Offensively, Santana had a great power production year, becoming the team leader for home runs in a season by an Indians switch hitter, but if he is truly going to be a middle of the order hitter, he has to have a better batting average than he did in 2011. A year ago, before being injured, Santana hit .260 and I think most people thought that was the beginning of more to come. Now, most people would be happy to see Santana hit .260. He has a great eye and draws a walk very well, finishing third in the American League in walks, something the Indians struggle to do as a team, but a cleanup or fifth hitter in the American League can’t hit .239.
Lou Marson
.230 AVG, 1 HR, 19 RBI
Grade: C+

Sweet Lou was able to play his way in to a considerable amount of playing time when Santana struggled defensively and Matt LaPorta was injured and then fell apart. Defensively, Marson handled the pitching staff very well and they have a considerably lower ERA with Marson behind the dish. His arm is one that keeps the base paths quiet most of the time as well.

And while I think Marson is an excellent backup, or someone who can fill in with a short term injury, I don’t think Marson can be counted on to be a starter until his offensive production improves mightily. He also was part of the .220 Club most of the summer. Marson can be good for 60 games behind the plate, when Santana needs days away from the dish, but until he becomes a more consistent hitter, or develops some power, he can’t be counted on for as many games as he was this season.

Charlie Manuel always believed Marson had power when he was in the Phillies system. If he could develop into a 10-12 home run a year player, suddenly his value greatly increases.

 

Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images