Cubs fans get a look at the best catcher in the game far too often in the likes of Cardinals’ backstop Yadier Molina.
Had he not gotten hurt for a lengthy period of time earlier this season, he would be the first catcher to receive the National League MVP award since Buster Posey won it in 2012. However, prior to that, you have to go all the way back to Johnny Bench in 1972. In other words, it’s a big deal.
That being said, the Cubs don’t have a Molina-esque talent behind the plate. But they do have two of the more solid defenders and reliable bats in all the National League in the form of Welington Castillo and Dioner Navarro.
You probably think that I’m crazy for even saying this, but I’m content with the 26-year old Castillo handling the bulk of the catching for Chicago. He’s a lot better than people give him credit for. When complimented by the offensive exploits and veteran presence of Navarro, the Cubs have something pretty unique in their hands.
Combined, the duo has hit .287 with 18 home runs and 59 RBIs this season – keeping the Cubs’ production in the same ballpark as St. Louis’ young star. Alone, Molina has hit .318 – the fifth-highest mark in the National League – with 11 home runs and 65 RBIs. Keep in mind that these numbers are in just 120 games, but the impressiveness of them hardly dims, even with that taken into account.
Castillo has been solid all year for Chicago. He’s never going to win an MVP, but he’s a dependable, young backstop that has put together a nice 2013 campaign. He’s hit .271 with six long balls and 28 RBIs, while ranking eighth amongst NL catchers in terms of fielding percentage. He also has a .350 on-base percentage on the year – the highest mark of his career.
When paired with the veteran presence of Navarro, the Cubs’ starting catcher has blossomed into a regular, when just two years ago the mere mention of his name made Cubs fans groan. Navarro has called this season a “resurgence” after his struggles following his All-Star campaign with Tampa Bay in 2008, and he has come up big on multiple occasions for Chicago – even off the bench as a pinch hitter. This should all equate to a new deal for Navarro, but only time will tell if that comes forth in the offseason.
While we all like to complain about the players on a roster that is many pieces away from being a true contender, there are a lot of bright spots emerging for Chicago this season. Navarro and Castillo are arguably the brightest of them all, doing their respective parts to keep the Cubs from heading into their second consecutive 100-loss campaign.