Yankees Ranks: Top Five American League East Catchers

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Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

Sandy Leon

27-year-old Sandy Leon was not supposed to be the heir-apparent to Jason Varitek. That designation first belonged to Blake Swihart and then Christian Vazquez.

Swihart continues to battle one injury after the other–most recently undergoing left ankle surgery that shelved him for the duration of this season. Vazquez has had his own bouts with the disabled list, missing all of 2015 due to elbow surgery.

Leon, on the other hand, put together an impressive–albeit overshadowed 2016 campaign due to what David Ortiz, Mookie Betts, and Rick Porcello accomplished. In just 76 games, the Venezuela native hit .310/.369/.476 with 7 HR and 35 RBI.

Now obviously there is room for his power numbers to improve, but when you factor in that solid slash line with the fact he only committed one error in 600 innings for a .998 FCPT, it’s easy to see why the starting catching position is Leon’s to lose headed into Spring Training next season.

The one area of his game that really needs to improve though is throwing out would-be base stealers. Leon allowed 20 stolen bases in 34 attempts for a .588 SB%, second lowest on the club behind Bryan Holaday.

Leon’s propensity for allowing runners to advance combined with his inexperience and evolving power totals are the reason he ranks 4th on this list. If he continues to grow into a big game backstop this Postseason, while also improving in the aforementioned areas of opportunity, there is no reason why Leon can’t jump a few spots up this list before Spring Training.