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Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Playoff position breakdown: Catcher

By Richard Durrett

From now until the playoffs begin, we'll take a very brief look at each Rangers position leading into the postseason and how each might impact how the club does in its first playoff appearance in 11 years.

Today's position: Catcher

It's kind of amazing to think about what the position was when the season started and what is is now. Jarrod Saltalamacchia was the hero of Opening Day, hitting a walkoff single in an unlikely comeback victory over the Toronto Blue Jays back on April 5. And the thought was that Taylor Teagarden or Saltalamacchia would step up and seize the position. That didn't happen. Teagarden's first stint with the club produced a 1-for-27 showing at the plate that sent him down to Double-A (he was much better in August in his second stint). But Saltalamacchia was hurt after that first game and never did return before Boston acquired him at the trade deadline.

Matt Treanor
The Rangers have a 50-29 record and a 3.04 ERA with Matt Treanor behind the plate. He's hitting .217 with five home runs and 25 RBIs in 79 games.
Matt Treanor, obtained by the team late in spring training from Milwaukee, started the season in Triple-A and found himself in the majors before the first week was over. He hasn't left. He dealt with an injury, but has proven to be a reliable backstop who has handled the staff well.

In order to fortify the position leading into the second half of the season, the Rangers traded for Bengie Molina at the end of June. The veteran has hit just .215 since coming to Texas, but does give Texas someone with postseason experience back there.

Both catchers have essentially split time since Molina's arrival. But you would think with Molina's playoff experience that he would likely get the nod in the postseason. But the club could also use both catchers depending on if they liked a certain combination.

Lee has had Molina behind the plate for eight of his starts as a Ranger. Treanor has caught him just three times and Taylor Teagarden has caught a few as well. Lee has a 4.27 ERA when Molina is behind the plate, but that's misleading because Molina caught for games during that stretch where Lee's back was bothering him. If you take that out, Lee has a 1.31 ERA with Molina as his catcher. Treanor caught Lee's first game as a Ranger (6 earned runs against Baltimore) and then two of his more recent starts, including a solid eight-inning performance (1 earned run) against the Yankees on Sept. 12. But Treanor's overall ERA with Lee is 4.27.

Brad White
The Rangers have a 25-26 record and a 4.00 ERA with Bengie Molina behind the plate. He's hitting .215 with two home runs and 17 RBIs in 52 games.
Molina has caught Wilson more as well, including five of his last seven starts. In his last five starts caught by Molina, Wilson has a 2.64 ERA. Treanor's last two starts with Wilson -- 12 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings. But he also had two straight solid starts with Treanor behind the plate in July (1 earned run in 14 2/3 innings). Overall, the ERA is about the same with each catcher.

BTW, overall stats for each catcher this season are interesting in that, going into Tuesday's game, the Rangers were 25-26 with a 4.00 ERA with Molina at catcher and 50-29 with Treanor and a 3.04 ERA. In fairness, Treanor caught many games during the Rangers' hot June and Molina wasn't a member of the team then (thanks again, ESPN Stats & Information for the help).

Neither catcher has given the club much at the plate this season. Molina is hitting .215 with two homers and 17 RBIs since joining the Rangers (52 games) and Treanor is batting .217 with five homers and 25 RBIs in 79 games (stats before Tuesday's game).

I would think because this club doesn't have many players who have experienced the bright lights of the postseason that having the veteran Molina would make more sense. But both could see some time.

Who would you go with behind the plate?