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Arizona's starting catcher has come a long way to be among baseball's elite.
Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero has had a great season. Who knew that this would happen just a few seasons after he was trading playing time with Chris Snyder? Coming into the majors, people knew he had potential with the bat, but at the time he was terrible behind the plate. Things have changed.
Among catchers qualifying with enough plate appearances, Montero has the fourth highest batting average among major league catchers at .288 (and two of them -- Joe Mauer and Buster Posey -- do not play exclusively catcher anymore). He is only behind Buster Posey in runs batted in with 88, but has more than Posey as a catcher. He has 15 homers.
Defensively, he is among the best. He handles a pitching staff very well and calls a great game. He was once one of the easiest catchers to run on, but no more. He has thrown out almost 42 percent of all potential basestealers. That is bested only by Yadier Molina (considered the hardest catcher to run on in the game) at just over 47 percent and Cincinnati's Ryan Hanigan at over 48 percent, but he has played in almost 30 less games than Montero.
Manager Kirk Gibson raved about his ability to block pitches and his consistent approach at it. "He blocks 0-0, he blocks 10-0, he blocks 0-10," said Gibson, noting that it doesn't matter the score. His effort is full every single time. His intangibles are off the chart as well.
Is he a Top 5 catcher? "Yeah, i think he is," answered Gibson. "Why wouldn't he be?"
Gibson is right.
You can talk about Montero in the same breath as Buster Posey, Joe Mauer, Yadier Molina and Carlos Ruiz. In fact, since neither Mauer nor Posey play exclusively catcher (Mauer has been something other than a catcher this year about as often as he has been a catcher, and Posey has almost 100 at-bats as a first baseman) and since Montero is better defensively, you aren't crazy to say he is only surpassed by Molina in the game.
"He's earned everything everywhere he has gone," said Gibson about Montero. "He has the desire to be mentioned with some of the best in the game."
Diamondbacks fans, enjoy this time. It isn't often you get one of the best at a position on your team. Montero is one of them, and he's going to be around for a while.