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The Tampa Bay Rays have some of the best hitting catchers in baseball

The blackhole behind the plate is gone

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The catcher spot in the Rays lineup has almost always been a blackhole. It effectively turned the Rays into an eight man lineup with an automatic out penciled in wherever the catcher happened to slotted into the batting order.

Since the start of the 2011 season through the end of the 2016 campaign, Rays catchers have slashed .209/.277/.326 with an average of 11 HR a year at the position. They’ve combined to put a wRC+ of 70 and a total of 3.1 fWAR.

So, this past off-season, the Rays made it one of their primary goals to improve the offense behind the plate, and they have...just not quite the way they originally planned.

The Rays shocked the baseball world as they signed Wilson Ramos in December. Ramos was coming off a season in which he won the Silver Slugger for being the best offensive catcher in the National League. However, the Rays and everyone else knew that Ramos would miss possibly half of the upcoming season. So, they Rays looked for another catcher to fill the void in the meantime.

That catcher would be Matt Wieters.

The Rays could not afford Wieters and were outbid by the Washington Nationals right at the onset of spring training. So the Rays were prepared to wait out Ramos’s return with a trio of Jesus Sucre, Curt Casali, and Luke Maile. However, over in the Nationals’ camp, with the arrival of Matt Wieters came the departure of Derek Norris.

So the Rays swooped in and signed the former all-star catcher, designated Luke Maile for assignment, optioned Curt Casali to Durham, and gave Jesus Sucre a spot on the active roster. Since then, all Jesus Sucre has done is be one of the most clutch players in the Rays lineup and getting some really big hits during his 16 games.

Derek Norris started out the season in a slump, but has since really turned things around. Over his last 25 games, Norris is sporting a 117 wRC+ with 4 HR.

The duo as a set are 10th among major league catchers in fWAR, 13th in wRC+, and 16th in wOBA. So far in the month of May, they’re among the league’s best.

May Rankings

  • 5th in HR (4)
  • 1st in BB% (12.7%)
  • 6th in ISO (.242)
  • 9th in AVG (.288)
  • 4th in OBP (.385)
  • 7th in SLG (.530)
  • 7th in wOBA (.390)
  • 5th in wRC+ (152)
  • 4th in fWAR (1.0)