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A Look at the Best Catching Tandems in Baseball

Catching tandems in baseball matters to many teams. As a manager, they want to be comfortable with the player behind the plate regarding managing his staff and defense. Whatever the catcher can do with the bat is a plus, but it’s a big deal now if they have a catcher that can impact the ball on both sides of the plate. Someone like Adley Rutschman can stay on the plate for every single game. If the Baltimore Orioles use him in the DH spot, then they won’t have to lose anything behind the plate with a veteran presence like James McCann.

Not only does it lengthen the lineup, but at the same time, the Orioles are putting someone back there that they can trust with their pitching staff. A tandem like Baltimore’s makes a good case as one of the best backstop duos in baseball.

Who Are the Best Catching Tandems in MLB?

Adley Rutschman/Jason McCann, Baltimore Orioles

A lot can be talked about what Rutschman has done for the Orioles. He is the kind of player he is at and behind the plate. There’s nothing that Rutschman can’t do from a catching standpoint. Bringing over McCann from the New York Mets and allowing him to not necessarily be the guy he was supposed to be in New York but bring out a different version of himself. Offensively, McCann looked rejuvenated and defensively, he looked better. The player the Mets thought they would get is now backing up the best catcher in the game.

Alejandro Kirk/Danny Jansen, Toronto Blue Jays

Over the last few years, Alejandro Kirk has been one of the most improved defensive catchers. He’s been able to block pitches and frame the ball well, and he’s been better at throwing the ball to the bases and getting the runners out. He’s a tremendous hitter, but Kirk had a down year last season. However, he has tremendous bat-to-ball skills. If there’s a player the Toronto Blue Jays would like in a tough situation with runners on bases, it is Kirk. He doesn’t strike out; he puts the ball in play and hits it to all parts of the field. He’s put himself in the conversation as one of the better catchers in baseball.

When Danny Jansen first came up, he was supposed to be the defensive backstop for the Blue Jays. Jansen has that in his game, and then over the last couple of years, no catcher has had a higher slugging percentage in all of baseball than Jansen. He found a way to come up with the big hits and showed that throughout the last few seasons. If he can stay healthy and be there for the entire 2024 season, he can DH at times, then relieve Kirk and have him DH sometimes. Whatever the Blue Jays do, that will solve some of the issues this offense had at least last year.

William Contreras/Gary Sánchez, Milwaukee Brewers

William Contreras has made strides since his days with the Atlanta Braves. Since getting traded to the Milwaukee Brewers, Contreras hasn’t skipped a beat. Working on his defense, he went from being suspect behind the plate to one of the better defenders last year. His offensive profile is off the charts. When you have a player who can slug and hit the ball the way he does from behind the plate, the Brewers are already ahead of the game.

The knock on Gary Sánchez was always defense. Last year, Sánchez looked much more comfortable behind the plate, hit some big home runs, and worked with the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner. Blake Snell had a record of 11-3 with a 1.29 ERA and 147 strikeouts in appearances with Sánchez.

“I’ve always heard about him offensively,” Blake Snell told Dennis Lin. “But, I love him. He blocked, like, a 97-mile-an-hour fastball in the dirt. I threw a curveball and it hit the grass and he blocked it. I mean, I don’t see the problem.”

These two are going to be fun to watch this year.

Sean Murphy/Travis d’Arnaud, Atlanta Braves

Sean Murphy had a tremendous first half but struggled in the second. Overall, Murphy put together a season where he could find more of his game, unlike his time in Oakland. What makes this tandem scary is that Murphy can be the best player on a nightly basis. Then, a player like Travis d’Arnaud, who has all that experience. He’s caught in a World Series who’s been a vital part of their offense throughout the last several years, both as a catcher and DH. Atlanta has two players that complement each other so well. Murphy throws the ball as good or better than anyone in the game. JT Realmuto is the only other catcher who throws the ball better. d’Arnaud is a fantastic framer of the baseball, and they both bring something offensive. Their combined abilities are what give Atlanta such a complete advantage.

Cal Raleigh/Mitch Garver, Seattle Mariners

Cal Raleigh has been terrific for the Seattle Mariners. Mitch Garver is coming in as a free agent. Between Raleigh and Garver, this catching tandem could hit a combined 50 home runs. Couple that with what Raleigh can do behind the plate; they can do great stuff for the Mariners’ pitching staff. Both are known to throw the ball, block well and have big-time power. Garver’s offensive approach is second to none. When he gets to the plate, he can do it all. He can go to all fields, has power, can take walks and hit for average.

Main Photo: © Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports



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