Ranking the American League East: Who has the best catcher?
As Buck Showalter began preparing the Orioles for the 2013 season, he made clear to them the No. 1 priority.
Showalter says he put the names of the other four teams in the American League East on the board down in Sarasota, Fla., and told his players that they can forget about everything else -- the primary objective is to find a way to finish above the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays in the standings.
As part of that, the manager told his players to look at the guys in the division at their specific position and find a way to be better than them.
So, how does the division -- likely the deepest in baseball -- stack up from position to position?
Starting today with the catchers, we'll take a glance at the AL East position-by-position and give you an opportunity to vote for which team has the edge at each spot.
-- David Selig
Image 1 of 7
Baltimore Orioles - Matt Wieters( Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports / February 16, 2013 )
Just how valuable is Wieters to the Orioles?
Consider first that he caught more innings than anybody in the American League last season. Then note that he skipped a possible chance to play in the World Baseball Classic so he could work all spring with the Orioles' pitching staff.
His defense and leadership almost make his offensive numbers (.249, 23 HR, 83 RBIs last season) secondary. And it should be mentioned that in the few times he did go to the bench last season, he was replaced by the most clutch backup catcher in the game last season.