Recently, I made the case that Aramis Ramirez was a must sign third basemen based on the VORP numbers. If you don’t know much about VORP, a summary of it, found in Wikipedia says:

In baseball, value over replacement player (or VORP) is a statistic invented by Keith Woolner that demonstrates how much a hitter contributes offensively or how much a pitcher contributes to his team in comparison to a fictitious “replacement player,” who is an average fielder at his position and a below average hitter. A replacement player performs at “replacement level,” which is the level of performance an average team can expect when trying to replace a player at minimal cost, also known as “freely available talent.”

In other words, the higher the VORP, the more above average the player. Here is how our catching situation looked based on the VORP.

1. Joe Mauer – 66.9
What can you really say about Joe Mauer other than Wow!!! Oh yeah, how about good call by the Twins picking Mauer over Mark Prior. Many people felt that the only reason Prior went number two was due to signability issues. Mauer was a high school prospect and generally considered a few years away. Prior was considered MLB ready, which he proved by pitching the next year.

2. Brian McCann – 54.8
I think it’s safe to say that the Braves are not hurting since the loss of Javy Lopez. McCann has stepped into that role admirably in his second season in the Major Leagues. Not many people know about him since last year was his breakout year, but if he can repeat the numbers that he had last year, people will know his name very quickly. In 2006, McCann hit .333 with 24 homeruns and 93 RBI in 130 games behind the plate.

3. Victor Martinez – 47.8
The Indians were certain Martinez would hit for average in the big leagues based on his minor league track record, but they weren’t sure about his power. Martinez ended that debate when he was put in the cleanup spot May 3. He hit .286 with 19 homers and 99 RBI the rest of the season. The switch-hitting Martinez, with more power lefthanded, swings for contact and would just as soon get a runner home from third on a grounder as a hit. He has a quick, even swing from both sides of the plate, but can be beaten by splitters and sliders.

Controlling the running game is Martinez’ biggest weakness. He calls a good game and has soft hands, but his throws to the bases, especially second, are often high and off target. Martinez threw out only 22 percent of the basestealers he faced, though he improved after starting the season 1-for-21. Martinez blocks the plate well, but was charged with nine passed balls. He was slowed on the bases by hamstring and ankle problems. ~ STATS Inc

4. Jorge Posada – 38.0
Posada is a rarity as a switch-hitting catcher. He controls the strike zone with a more than functional plate discipline. Continually among the league leaders in walks, Posada is no easy out. From the right side he has more pop, a result of his pull conscious approach versus lefthanders. As a lefthanded hitter, he favors the ball just above the belt. Posada gets himself in trouble when he presses or attempts to do to much. This could help explain his postseason travails.

He has steadily improved his composite defense. He very seldom takes bad at-bats into the field anymore and by most accounts calls a good game. His rapport with the pitching staff is also noted, and this cannot be overlooked when assessing a catcher’s defense. Defensive measures like passed balls or stolen-base percentage place him somewhere in the middle of the catching spectrum. His arm is sometimes short, but accurate. Posada is a bad baserunner and paid the price by having his nose broken when he didn’t get out of the way of Angels shortstop Alfredo Amezaga’s throw on the back end of a double play in May. ~ STATS Inc

5. Michael Barrett – 31.3
Fifth in the Major Leagues is more than acceptable to me. Barrett, when you consider the shape he was in when Jim Hendry found him has turned into a great catcher for us and a very nice leader. Say what you want about his defense, which to me is fine when you factor in his bat, but the fact remains that he’s one of the top catchers in the game right now. That has to be a bright spot in a not so bright season last year.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail