Catcher Miguel Montero
Miguel Montero said he could not dream of playing for another team, and the Arizona Diamondbacks did not like the thought of what their team and lockeroom would look like without him; so on May 26th the Diamondback signed him to a five-year contract extension worth $60 million. That is the largest guarantee in Diamondbacks franchise history. Some would say that was too large of a contract, but, remember, the Diamondbacks did not have a suitable replacement for Montero in their system. It is going to be a few years before Stryker Trahan is officially ready for the big leagues and Konrad Schmidt is not a top prospect and most likely will be a career back-up. Additionally, the more the Diamondbacks checked around with other clubs, it became apparent that the catching market was exceptionally slim.
There are definitely catchers who reap more headlines, guys like Joe Maurer, Buster Posey, Yadier Molina, A J Ellis, Carlos Ruiz and others. I would make a case however, that Miguel Montero of the Arizona Diamondbacks is better than all of them, perhaps the best backstop in Major League Baseball right now.
Hitting has never been an issue for Montero in his career and over the past two seasons he has made huge strides defensively and in the way he handles the pitching staff. Also, Montero’s four passed balls are the fewest among all catchers in 2012. He also leads the National League since the beginning of 2011 with 63 runners caught stealing. His 2012 fielding is .991. More importantly though is that he has had to handle four rookie pitchers in the 2012 season. This year Montero has already played in 132 games; second most in the National League. Only Buster Posey has played in more games at 135 games. He is on pace to catch 140 games, making that the second year in a row. It is also the second year in a row he has caught more than 1100 innings. In the National League no one has played more than Montero over the last two years. And for his offense, last year he hit 18 home runs, with 86 RBI and a .282 batting average. His numbers through September 22nd are 15 homeruns, 88 RBI and a .293 batting average. He has walked 69 times, the most in his major league career. He is also just 6 hits away from a new career high. He has batted cleanup on several occasions, which is very rare for a catcher. Remember, he was hitting only .252 with a .689 OPS at the end of May. Since he signed his contract, he is batting .308 with 13 homers and.923 OPS in 295 at-bats. At the catcher position, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Catchers are natural leaders of any MLB team and Montero seems to fit that bill with his willingness to play just about every day and his proficiency both in the field and with the bat. In addition, Montero is very upbeat and vocal which helps to keep his teammates loose at all times. The prized young arms of the Arizona Diamondbacks are in good hands with Miguel Montero calling the action from behind the plate.
I hope to see you at the ballpark for the final home games against the Cubs and Rockies.