No. 1: Yan Gomes, Cleveland Indians
Sep 16, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Cleveland Indians catcher Yan Gomes (10) hits a home run during the sixth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The evolution of Yan Gomes has been absolutely unpredictable. Stunning, really.
Gomes’ emergence in 2013 paved the way for Carlos Santana to make the move to first base. Now entering just his second season with full-time duties, Gomes has impressed both offensively and defensively. He was one of just six catchers in 2014 to hit at least 20 homeruns . He totaled 49 extra base hits, drove in 74 runs and batted .278 over 135 games. Gomes was especially effective with runners on base last season, hitting .298 with 62 RBIs, and excelled with runners in scoring position, going 35-for-121 on the season.
All of those traits make Gomes an excellent candidate to hit between two left-handed batters near the middle of the Tribe order in 2014, as the Brazilian-born backstop absolutely tortures southpaws at the dish, posting a slash line of .331 / .361 / .517 against lefties last season.
Gomes finished second in the AL in homeruns and RBIs and won the AL Silver Slugger award for catchers after the season.
Following an offseason extension in 2013, Gomes also proved to be a strong defender behind the plate. He is an excellent blocker, and a better framer. He has one of the strongest arms in the major leagues from behind the dish, nailing down 29 percent (27-for-93) of all attempted base stealers in 2014. It was the second highest percentage in the AL behind Brian McCann of the Yankees.
While there are certainly holes in his game, as evidenced by the 14 errors he made last season, Gomes is undoubtedly the most productive catcher in the AL Central.