SweetSpot: Have Indians Locked Up MLB's Best Catcher?

ESPN.com's David Schoenfield, after discussing Ian Kinsler's new contract with the Rangers, turns to Carlos Santana's new five-year, $21-million contract. Schoenfield:

The Santana deal, which also includes an option season for 2017, is much more intriguing. In his first full season in 2011, he hit 27 home runs and drew 90 walks. You know how many catchers have hit at least 25 home runs and drawn that many walks? Six. Santana, Jorge Posada (twice), Gene Tenace (twice), Mickey Tettleton (twice), Johnny Bench and Rudy York. Santana hit just .239, so it's possible that he'll be a low-average, high-OBP/power guy like Tenace or Tettleton. That's still an enormously valuable skill set. It's also possible he'll be a .260 or .270 hitter with 30 home runs and 100 walks. That would make him one of the most valuable players in the game, even with lukewarm reviews on his defense.

It's an impressive list, no question. I expanded the scope some (because I like to expand scopes) and looked at catchers with 23-32 home runs and 81-100 walks. This removes Tenace and Tettleton, both of whom drew too many walks to make my list, and York, who hit 33 home runs. This adds Darren Daulton, Mickey Cochrane, Toddy Hundley, Joe Ferguson, and Wes Westrum.

I'm not sure exactly how comparable everyone is. Ferguson and Bench were roughly the same age as Santana was last year, but of course Bench had already been a superstar for years. Ferguson never had another season as good as this one (1973), largely because he couldn't stay healthy.

Santana's new contract looks like a real good one for the Indians. But he's enjoyed one big season and batted just .239 last season, so he's not quite a big star yet. Fortunately, he doesn't have to become a big star to justify his deal.

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