Posey or Wieters: Which Young MLB Catcher Has the Bigger Upside? The Friday Faceoff

Friday June 1, 2012

Ryan Ritchey (Baseball Writer): A couple of years ago the Minnesota Twins were talking about moving Joe Mauer to first base, to save his legs. Since he was such a great hitter, the Twins were looking to preserve his bat. That never did happen and the Twins are going down really fast and so is Mauer. The only thing Mauer has been really good for lately is making commercials for Head and Shoulders shampoo and one-liners from video game ads. Joe Mauer has played 9 seasons in the majors and does not have 100 career home runs. Yes he hits for a very high average. But he was supposed to be a great overall hitter. In my opinion, this home-grown Minnesota boy stayed behind the dish too long and now he will never be the same offensive player that he was in ’09. Injuries have taken their toll and the Mauer decline began far sooner than most expected.

The big question for the next two big young catchers is whether they going to stay behind the dish, or undertake a postion change to save their legs…and bats. Buster Posey and Matt Wieters are no doubt the best young catchers in the game right now. Some will look at Mike Napoli, Brian McCann and Alex Avila for that title. But for actual youth, production and potential, Posey and Wieters are the next big things. The only thing is how long will they actually be catchers. If I’m in either the Giants or Orioles front office, I move them as soon as possible. The catcher position is one of the hardest positions in the game and leaving either Posey or Wieters behind the plate too long could prove detrimental. Just look at Joe Mauer as an example of what could happen if you wait.

I would have thought the Giants would have done everything in their power to move Posey to another position after his collision at the plate that ended his season in 2011. Putting excessive weight and straight on a recently healed leg isn’t going to help much, when he needs that very same leg to help power his team to score runs and stay in contention. In my opinion, Posey needs to move to first base as soon as possible if he is going to put up all-star type offensive numbers in the future. To become an elite superstar, Posey needs to avoid the risk and strain that the catching position will put on him. The long-term effects are just not worth it.

Now let’s get to the question that everyone has been waiting for: Who is going to be the better player in the future. Just to be clear, there are no imminent talks to my knowledge of either Posey or Wieters changing positions. So when evaluating them, let’s assume that they are staying behind the plate for the time being.

Posey will become a free agent in 2017 and Wieters in 2016. Wieters has the advantage of playing for an American League team where he DH as much as  possible, which further allows him to rest and concentrate on his offensive game. Posey will have to decide on whether he will want that option down the road if he ever hits free agency.

Buster Posey has the advantage of being a year younger than Wieters. This doesn’t seem like a huge deal but it is when you think about the distant future of retiring. If Posey can get one extra season, he could end up with better numbers than Wieters. That is assuming that they play for the same number of years. It might not matter, but it could. Posey is the player with more hype out of these two, but in my opinion he is not the better player.

Matt Wieters has some key advantages over Posey. Wieters plays for the Orioles which means he can DH, whereas Posey still needs to play the field in order to stay in the lineup. Wieters has also been injury free since he hit the major leagues (knock on wood). The less injuries the better. Wieters is also the better offensive and defensive player in my opinion. Wieters hit 22 home runs last season and already has 8 going into today’s action.

Posey is the player out of the two with the biggest red flag. The main disadvantage for Posey is the broken leg he sustained last season blocking the plate. This could cause major effects to his offensive production, both in the short and long term. This could also come back to hurt Posey when he tries the free agent market in  5 seasons. The other disadvantage for Posey is that there is no DH in the National League. If he played for an American League team, they could play him at DH throughout the year. The time away from defensive responsibilities should help his offensive game overall. But alas, only Wieters enjoys this AL benefit.

To conclude on who I believe has the bigger upside, I have to side with Matt Wieters. Wieters is a great health track record and more offensive power than Posey. I wish the best of luck to both Posey and Wieters as they continue with their tremendous careers as major league catchers. My hope is that like fine wine, each will just continue to get better with age. Getting away from the catcher position should only help to better the chance of that happening for each of these young great players.

Ryan Ritchey is a Baseball Writer for MLB reports. I am a high school senior, play second base and plan on studying sports journalism in college. I am a huge fan of Barry Larkin and Brandon Phillips. Have been a baseball fan my whole life and have been writing about baseball since freshman year. You can reach me on Twitter (@Ryan13Ritchey)

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Posted on June 1, 2012, in Players: Fantasy Baseball Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. This one’s easy – Carlos Santana : )

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