Update: Top Catching Prospects Produce High Career WAR

On Wednesday I wrote a post on the Toronto Blue Jays historical lack of a legitimate, young ‘franchise’ type catcher in the wake of the Travis d’Arnaud trade.

This is a semi-contiuation of that post. This time, instead of looking at solely the Toronto Blue Jays, I’ve gone back and taken a look at top ranked Baseball America catchers, and their career production in terms of WAR (Fan Graphs version).

In this study I choose a top 100 list cut-off date of 2009. The reason for this? Well, there is no science behind this criteria, simply put–catchers from 2009 & below have already produced at the MLB level.

For players on the list for multiple seasons, I’ve chosen to list their top ranking and it’s adjacent year.

Baseball America Top 100 Ranked Catchers

Stats:

  • Median WAR: 3.2
  • Average WAR: 10.7
  • Average Prospect Ranking, Top 20 WAR Producers: 36
  • Average Prospect Ranking, Bottom 20 WAR Producers: 59

Team Player Rank Year of Rank WAR
Rangers Ivan Rodriguez 7 1991 73.9
Dodgers Mike Piazza 38 1993 66.8
Pirates Jason Kendall 26 1996 43.9
Twins Joe Mauer 1 2005 40.1
Braves Javy Lopez 17 1994 33.6
Twins Jose Valentin 58 1996 32.2
Indians Victor Martinez 16 2003 29.1
Braves Brian McCann 44 2005 28.7
Marlins Charles Johnson 7 1995 27.6
Athletics Ramon Hernandez 74 1998 26.3
Mariners Jason Varitek 51 1996 25.5
Cardinals Todd Zeile 7 1990 25
Dodgers RUSSELL MARTIN 42 2006 22.9
Phillies Mike Lieberthal 67 1993 22
Tigers Brandon Inge 67 2001 17.4
Reds Dan Wilson 41 1992 16.3
Indians Sandy Alomar Jr 5 1990 15.7
Mets Todd Hundley 18 1992 15.3
Cubs Rick Wilkins 70 1990 14.5
Diamondbacks MIGUEL MONTERO 63 2007 13.8
GIANTS BUSTER POSEY 7 2009 13.7
ORIOLES MATT WIETERS 1 2009 12.9
Athletics KURT SUZUKI 89 2007 12.7
CUBS GEOVANY SOTO 47 2008 12.3
Brewers Dave Nilsson 29 1992 11.6
Astros John Buck 43 2002 10.2
Rockies CHRIS IANNETTA 92 2007 10.1
Expos Greg Colbrunn 85 1991 9.3
INDIANS CARLOS SANTANA 10 2010 8.9
Red Sox Kelly Shoppach 78 2004 7.9
Mariners KENJI JOHJIMA 66 2006 7.1
Cardinals Eli Marrero 33 1998 6.6
Padres Ben Davis 10 1996 4.8
TWINS WILSON RAMOS 58 2009 4.2
Braves JARROD SALTALAMACCHIA 18 2006 3.9
Blue Jays Josh Phelps 36 2002 3.2
Yankees Dioner Navarro 41 2004 3.2
Mets Brook Fordyce 47 1991 3.1
PHILLIES LOU MARSON 66 2009 3
Phillies Bobby Estalella 97 1997 2.7
Braves Tyler Houston 28 1991 2.5
Astros Mitch Meluskey 43 1999 2.5
BLUE JAYS J.P. ARENCIBIA 43 2009 2
RANGERS TAYLOR TEAGARDEN 80 2008 1.2
RANGERS TAYLOR TEAGARDEN 73 2009 1.2
Giants Steve Decker 52 1991 0.9
Rockies Ben Petrick 35 2000 0.8
Twins Matthew LeCroy 44 2000 0.7
Padres Raul Casanova 60 1995 0.4
ASTROS J.R. TOWLES 53 2008 0.4
YANKEES JESUS MONTERO 38 2009 0.4
Dodgers Angel Pena 41 1999 0.3
ANGELS HANK CONGER 79 2008 0.3
Red Sox Eric Wedge 63 1990 0.2
Red Sox Steve Lomasney 50 2000 0.1
Blue Jays Angel Martinez 77 1995 0
Cubs Pat Cline 72 1997 0
Rangers Cesar King 31 1998 0
MARLINS KYLE SKIPWORTH 85 2009 0
PIRATES TONY SANCHEZ 79 2010 0
Athletics AJ Hinch 42 1998 -0.1
CARDINALS BRYAN ANDERSON 85 2008 -0.1
RANGERS MAX RAMIREZ 84 2009 -0.1
Pirates JR House 21 2002 -0.3
Angels JEFF MATHIS 22 2004 -0.5
Mariners JEFF CLEMENT 33 2006 -0.6
Angels Todd Greene 59 1996 -0.7
Reds Dane Sardinha 74 2001 -0.7
Mets Justin Huber 66 2003 -1
Blue Jays Guillermo Quiroz 35 2004 -1.2

Top 20 players don’t seem to ‘miss’. Here’s a listing of players that have received top 20 rankings:

Note: Top 20 selected due to 20 being the next set of 5 to d’Arnaud’s ranking–Travis d’Arnaud ranked #17 in 2012.


Team Player Rank Year of Rank WAR
Twins Joe Mauer 1 2005 40.1
ORIOLES MATT WIETERS 1 2009 12.9
Indians Sandy Alomar Jr 5 1990 15.7
Rangers Ivan Rodriguez 7 1991 73.9
Marlins Charles Johnson 7 1995 27.6
Cardinals Todd Zeile 7 1990 25
GIANTS BUSTER POSEY 7 2009 13.7
INDIANS CARLOS SANTANA 10 2010 8.9
Padres Ben Davis 10 1996 4.8
Indians Victor Martinez 16 2003 29.1
Braves Javy Lopez 17 1994 33.6
Mets Todd Hundley 18 1992 15.3
Braves JARROD SALTALAMACCHIA 18 2006 3.9

Note: Prospects that did not make the 2009 cutoff but are still earned BA top 20 distinction include: Jesus Montero, Devin Mesoraco, and Wil Myers before positional change to OF.

Outside of Salty and Ben Davis, every catcher of this list appears to be at least a 15+ WAR producer (Wieters & Santana are well on their way to eclipsing the 15 mark).

There are no ‘gimmies’ in the world of baseball prospects. But it does appear that the scouting community has somewhat of a handle on catching prospects. However, this does not automatically turn Travis d’Arnaud (or any player for that matter) into an automatic MLB producer.

Up to bat later next week, I’m going to change the criteria a bit (moving the 2009 deadline), and take a look at Baseball America Top 20 prospects career WAR for all positions.

Sources: FanGraphs, Jeff Zimmerman’s compiled list of BA prospects

UPDATE:

It appears that this type of study has been done adnaseum. Below, the Cliff Notes results of a 2012 study carried out by Jay Lyon Tymkovich, Claremont McKenna College

“Table 7. Base and expanded regressions, using Baseball America ranking, excluding players
34
?with WAR greater than or equal to 15.
Dependent variable: WAR. Number of observations: 704.”

 

Position WAR
LHP 0.267
RHP 0.842
First Base 1.19
Second Base 1.705
Third Base 0.827
Short Stop 1.705
Outfielder 1.368

Tymkovich did not include catchers– who were used as a control group– but I would say that our previous catcher research, coupled with the high levels of WAR for middle infielders, make a case for higher than average WAR production from prospects that inhabit ‘defensive’ positions on the diamond.

has written for mopupduty.com since 2006. Follow Matthias on Twitter, Facebook and Google +