George Kottaras - Greatest Backup Catcher Ever?

Jamie Squire


George Kottaras had his 80th at bat for the Royals in today's 4-3 win over the Mets. His line ended at 1-3 with a home run and a strikeout.

After Adam Dunn, George might be the epitome of a three true outcome player. He either walks, strikes out, or homers. Today George struck out and homered. George didn't walk.

With his home run and strikeout today, Kottaras has raised his wRC+ to 126 for the season. He walks 20.7% of the time, but also strikes out 35.4% of the time. His triple slash now sits at .176/.354/.453. On the surface, in a wRC+ respect, that's a good line for someone who's only played in 31 games this year. The strikeouts are ugly, and at times it seems like he just flings his bat at any ball, but the guy can walk and hit home runs.

With his home run today, he's now 5th on the Royals in home runs...yes...5th.

The Royals obviously see Salvador Perez as their long term catcher of the future, and Kottaras isn't due to see any major time behind the plate, but with a good chunk of remaining games in the season, ZiPS projects him to play in 23 more games this season. That would put him at 53 games on the year (this is including todays game).

Let's take a look at some backup catchers from the past 10 years and see how the Greek God of the 3 True Outcomes is faring.

The criteria of this list is:

A) They must be backing up an established, front line catcher. So Josh Bard's 7 games in 2004 backing up Tim Laker who was backing up Victor Martinez doesn't count.

B) They must have had 120+ plate appearances. So Kit Pellow's 226 wRC+ in 2003 in 11 games doesn't count.

C) Injuries to the front line starter do not count. So Rene Rivera and Drew Butera filling in for an injured Joe Mauer in 2011 don't count.

D) No major prospects. Joe Mauer backing up Henry Blanco to get his feet wet in 2004 does not count.

E) No aging veterans clinging on as the front line starter (Sorry 2007 Mike Lieberthal)

E) This list will go back to 2003

  • 2009 David Ross: 138 wRC+ in 54 games and 151 PA backing up Brian McCann
  • 2010 David Ross: 137 wRC+ in 59 games and 145 PA backing up Brian McCann
  • 2013 Yan Gomes: 137 wRC+ in 46 games and 164 PA backing up Carlos Santana
  • 2003 David Ross: 133 wRC+ in 40 games and 140 PA backing up Paul Lo Duca
  • 2003 Todd Pratt: 132 wRC+ in 43 games and 156 PA backing up Mike Lieberthal
  • 2004 Doug Mirabelli: 130 wRC+ in 59 games and 182 PA backing up Jason Varitek
  • 2007 Ramon Castro: 126 wRC+ in 52 games and 157 PA backing up Paul Lo Duca
  • 2010 Ramon Castro: 120 wRC+ in 37 games and 128 PA backing up AJ Pierzynski
  • 2011 David Ross: 113 wRC+ in 52 games and 171 PA backing up Brian McCann
  • 2012 Erik Kratz: 111 wRC+ in 50 games and 157 PA backing up Carlos Ruiz
  • 2011 George Kottaras: 109 wRC+ in 49 games and 123 PA backing up Jonathan Lucroy
  • 2007 Jamie Burke: 109 wRC+ in 50 games and 109 PA backing up Kenji Johjima
  • 2006 Mike Redmon: 106 wRC+ in 47 games and 190 PA backing up Joe Mauer
  • 2007 Kelly Shoppach: 104 wRC+ in 59 games and 177 PA backing up Victor Martinez

It's very clear that David Ross just might be the greatest backup catcher in the past 10 years and possibly ever.
If the season ended today and Kottaras were eligible, he'd be tied for 7th with Ramon Castro and his 126 wRC+.
I don't know what this even means, and it's clear that Kottaras isn't nearly as good as David Ross was, is, or will ever be, but Kottaras has been good this season in comparison to other backup catchers. If you limit the results to just this year and the same criteria, Kottaras has been better than all the other backup catchers other than Yan Gomes. The great Gerald Lair has a 125 wRC+ in 28 games/88 PA.
It's a small sample size to be sure, but the Greek God of the 3 True Outcomes (GGoTTO?) has been better than many starting catchers of the Royals past like the Treanor, Santiago, Castillo, LaRue and Bako's of the world.

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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