FanPost

The 100 Greatest Royals of All-Time - #91 John Buck

I compiled this list before the year started, and since then John Buck has assuredly moved up the list. Perhaps when I come out with a revised version of this list we can have Mark Grudzielanek on the list instead of Rey Sanchez and John Buck further up the list.

The 91st Greatest Royal is John Buck

Compare the following catchers:

Catcher A
Age  AVG  OBA  SLG OPS+
24  .265 .332 .393 102
25  .223 .263 .299  59
26  .255 .306 .380  93

Catcher B
Age  AVG  OBA  SLG OPS+
23  .279 .363 .397  95
24  .241 .311 .387  80
25  .254 .316 .408  93
26  .233 .313 .335  70

Catcher C
Age  AVG  OBA  SLG OPS+
23  .235 .280 .424  84
24  .242 .287 .389  79
25  .245 .306 .396  76
26  .230 .320 .464  99

Catcher A is Mike MacFarlane, Catcher B is Ramon Hernandez and Catcher C is our own John Buck.

Buck was made a full-time starter at age 23. Jason Varitek wasn't a full-time starter until he was 27. Jorge Posada wasn't a full-time starter until he was 26. Paul LoDuca wasn't a full-time starter until he was 29. There are obviously catchers who are great hitters from the get-go, but there are certainly just as many who weren't worth a spit with the stick until they were closer to 30.

Buck gets a lot of grief for his defense, but he hasn't had much to work with as far as a pitching staff. For his career he has nailed 34% of would-be base-stealers, right in line for the league average. He led the league in pick-offs with six in 2005. He has yielded fourteen passed balls in three seasons, certainly not an alarming number.

I think there are two reasons why John Buck gets as much criticism from Royals fans as he does. First, he was part of the Carlos Beltran deal, and although Mark Teahen's breakout 2006 season had relieved some of the pressure of being part of that deal, there is still a lot of expectation on Buck to justify that deal.

The second is that Royals fans see a lot of good catchers  in their division. The truth is, there aren't a ton of good hitting catchers in the league right now. Once you get past the top tier candidates, you have guys like Miguel Olivo and Rod Barajas starting for teams.

In 2007, the Royals picked up Jason LaRue from the Reds to split time with Buck and motivate him to become a better ballplayer. Buck has responded with a career year with a spike in home run production, increased walk rates, and a much higher slugging percentage, despite a decrease in playing time. He will have to continue to improve to become a useful Major League catcher, but I am a fan and I hope he does make those improvements.

Why am I a fan of John Buck? Because John Buck is a manly name befitting of a catcher. Because he reminds me of "Rube" from the movie Major League II. Because he had the cojones to get in the face of the lazy Runelvys Hernandez. Because he has a chance to pass Alan Ashby as the greatest Mormon catcher in baseball history. Because he's a hard-working, decent fielding backstop with a bit of power, which is pretty much all you can ask for from a catcher these days.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.

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