LA Angels Position Outlook: Catchers

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 25: Martin Maldonado
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 25: Martin Maldonado /

The LA Angels had major uncertainty with their catching position heading into 2017. However, the small signing of Martin Maldonado turned out to be a huge reward, and 2018 should only improve.

The LA Angels have had uncertainty at catcher for years. They have spent two first round picks on collegiate catchers the past few years. However, Martin Maldonado changed everything in 2017. He caught in a league-high 137 games and was an absolute stud on defense throughout, winning the American League Gold Glove Award for his position, ending the four-year winning streak of  the Kansas City Royals’ Salvador Perez.

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On offense, it was a tale of two halves for Maldonado. In the first half of the season, he was one of the better all-around catchers in the game as he hit .251 with nine home runs and a .725 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). However, he only hit .183 with five big flies and a .539 OPS following the All-Star break.

Manager Mike Scioscia has commented on the workload Maldonado had in 2017 being a factor for the slow second half, but is also still planning on using his star catcher the same amount of games. The hope is that catching that many games in 2017 will help Maldonado be better prepared for the massive workload as he works on his endurance this offseason. If he can put up the offensive number from the first half of 2017 throughout the 2018 season, Maldonado should have no problem repeating as a Gold Glove winner while possible even adding a Silver Slugger to his trophy case.

Next: Assessing the Middle Infield for Halos in 2018

The backup catchers were non-factors on offense in 2017. Juan Graterol and Carlos Perez both played solid defense but rarely contributed at the plate. This season, the Angels have brought on veteran Rene Rivera to man the backup spot. Rivera also boasts an impressive defensive game. He also had a solid .736 OPS mark in 2017, so if he can replicate that in 2018, the Halos catcher position would be one of the best in the A.L.

Maldonado will also be a free agent following this season. Players always seem to step up on contract years, and the Angels can count on just that from Maldonado this season.