- Monday, June 18, 2012 10:57 AM
- Written By: Dodgers Diaries
recently asked 306 big leaguers to rank the 15 toughest catchers to steal on. It's hard to argue with their perception that Yadier Molina is the best in the business. But the fact that AJ Ellis is nowhere on the list shows that opposing baserunners just haven’t been paying attention. Ellis ranks fifth in baseball at throwing out would-be stealers, behind Arizona’s Miguel Montero (with a whopping 50 percent success rate), Cincinnati's Ryan Hanigan, San Francisco's Hector Sanchez (Buster who?) and Philadelphia's Carlos Ruiz.
Joe Mauer, who placed 5th on the SI list, has thrown out just 15 percent of baserunners this year. Mike Napoli, supposedly inept at this task, has a better success rate. Yadier's older brother Jose Molina, ranked 8th, has thrown out just 3 of the 19 men who've tried to steal on him.
I don't know whether this is one of those stats that has more to do with pitchers than catchers. Certainly Ellis has been hurt by catching Ted Lilly, whose inability to hold runners on has allowed seven of nine baserunners to advance, and Kenley Jansen, who has never registered a caught-stealing in his short career (he's 0-for-2 in 2012).
What I do know is that this ranking, like the Gold Glove awards, seems to be based not on facts, but on reputation, much of which is established at the plate, rather than behind it. The funny thing is, Ellis has done just as much to acquit himself with the bat as with the glove. Then again, maybe this disrespect is what has made him so successful. Players think they can run on him, so they try it. But 39 percent of the time, they're wrong.
-- JOHN ROSENTHAL