One of the most difficult things to quantify in baseball -- a sport that attempts to quantify everything with some sort of stat -- is the value provided by a catcher in terms of how well he works with pitchers. The reality is we mostly have to go off of pitcher performance among common catchers and just listen to the pitchers, managers and coaching staffs.
One man who has been receiving praise on this front for years and is now in his final season is David Ross of the Cubs. His pitchers love him. On that front, ESPN researcher Mark Simon tweeted the following on Monday:
Cubs pitchers have a 2.09 ERA and .189 opp BA with David Ross catching in 2016 (and he's only caught Arrieta 3x)— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) June 13, 2016
How does that measure up to the rest of the catchers this season? Unbelievably. Let's expand upon that. Including only catchers with at least 200 innings behind the plate this season, here are the top 10, ranked, in catcher ERA (to be clear, this is the ERA of the pitchers when each particular player below is the catcher).
|Catcher||Team||Innings caught||Catcher ERA|
| David Ross ||Cubs||245.1||2.09|
| A.J. Ellis ||Dodgers||241.2||2.42|
| Miguel Montero ||Cubs||250||2.99|
| Buster Posey ||Giants||413.1||3.24|
| Wilson Ramos ||Nationals||414.1||3.37|
| Kevin Plawecki ||Mets||305.2||3.39|
| Chris Iannetta ||Mariners||423||3.51|
| Bobby Wilson ||Rangers||239||3.54|
| Dioner Navarro || White Sox ||311||3.56|
| Alex Avila || White Sox ||234.2|| 3.68 |
Ellis has gotten to catch Clayton Kershaw 10 times, so it really is remarkable how high Ross sits, despite having only caught Jake Arrieta three times. Of course, the entire Cubs' pitching staff has been awesome this season, but can't we give some of that credit to Ross and Montero? Remember, the Cubs decided to use this duo instead of Welington Castillo -- a far superior offensive player who has a 4.99 catcher ERA this season.
For those curious about a pair of Missouri catchers with great reputations, Salvador Perez sits at 3.99 and Yadier Molina at 4.02.
Obviously this isn't the be-all, end-all behind the plate and the quality of pitching staffs makes a big difference, but it can be a piece of the puzzle. If you disagree, just ignore it. That's cool, too.