Over at Baseball Prospectus, Christina Kahrl has crunched the numbers and discovered that today's catchers are hitting better than ever:
If anything, we're in a golden age of catcher hitting, something that has everything to do with the adaptive choices teams are making to make sure they don't have to wind up with no-hit backstops.
The reason should have to do that teams are trading defense for offense, that with the running game down, that teams shift toward catchers who can hit. Or it can simply be cyclical. Or there's been more efficiency by the teams in finding catchers who are overall better than they have been in the past.
All possibilities, and all probably true to varying degrees.
I believe the best explanation is the simplest explanation: More than ever, teams today base their personnel decisions on factors they can quantify. And one of the catcher's primary jobs -- working with pitchers -- has long been considered unquantifiable, or nearly so.
This is changing, as we speak. Thanks to PITCHf/x and now COMMANDf/x, it's becoming possible to quantify almost everything a catcher does that previously wasn't really open to objective analysis. And some of those things might add up to serious run prevention.
Which is why I believe the pendulum may soon swing back the other way, with more weak-hitting catchers rather than fewer. We might be entering a Golden Age of Catcher Fielding. And won't it be delightful if Mike Scioscia has been right about Jeff Mathis all along?