Credit A.J. Pierzynski, Yadier Molina, Matt Wieters and even a little George Kottaras: catchers have the highest OPS of any position on the diamond so far this year.
Here’s how they ranked entering Thursday’s games:
C: .770 OPS
Yeah, that’s pretty unusual. Designated hitters do top catchers with a .791 OPS to date, but since they’re not actually on the diamond, I felt free to exclude them.
Obviously, this isn’t at all likely to keep up, but it is fun to see just how many catchers have started red hot. The Brewers have gotten a 1.226 OPS from Jonathan Lucroy and Kottaras. The White Sox, Tigers, Orioles and Cardinals are also above 1.000.
Last year, catchers had a .703 OPS, better than only shortstops at .697. It was the same deal in 2010. In 2009, catchers ranked last behind the shortstops in OPS.
The White Sox have reportedly picked up first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians, according to Stadium. The return for Alonso is expected to be nothing more flashy than a “fringe prospect,” though the minutiae of the deal is still pending a formal announcement from both teams.
Alonso, 31, inked a two-year deal with the Indians during the 2017 offseason. His first campaign with the club yielded a modest .250/.317/.421 batting line, 23 home runs, .738 OPS and 0.7 fWAR in 574 PA. The real boon for the White Sox may not be a passable veteran bat, however, but something more intangible — like Alonso’s clout with his brother-in-law and highly-coveted free agent slugger, Manny Machado.
While Alonso’s 2018 output represented a significant decline from the career-best numbers he posted in 2017, he’s still a solid contributor at the plate and, more importantly, slated to remain under team control for the next two years with just $8 million owed in 2019 and a $9 million option in 2020. As MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince notes, the $17 million the Indians just erased from their payroll should give them enough room to accommodate the contracts for right-handers Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber — a bonus regardless of what they happen to get in the trade.