Mar 6, 2013; Fort Myers, FL, USA; David Ross has been a staple of the Atlanta bench for the last four years. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Braves Most Under-Appreciated Players: 1990-Present – Catcher

Looking back on the past two decades of Braves baseball, it’s easy to say that Atlanta was a successful place to be. The teams since 1990 have had their Greg Maddux, Chipper Jones, and Rafael Furcal. For each star, there are 10 other guys busting their butts to do all they can for their team. I’ve decided to look for those guys and make a list of the most under-appreciated players at each position since 1990.

The criteria that I am using is: 1. They must have played more than one season with the team. 2. They must have played in at least 100 games with the Braves. 3. No less than 370 at bats. 4. Maintain an average above .250. I’ll be using other statistics, but those 4 things narrow the categories.

The position that I am starting with will be a position that has been quite populated since 1990 – Catcher. Here goes nothing!

First, under-appreciated players aren’t the face of teams. With that, we eliminate Javy Lopez and Brian McCann with ease. The criteria also eliminated the likes of Jarrod Saltalamacchia (one season), Paul Bako (games played), and Charlie O’Brien (at bats). After working through all of the catchers since 1990, my final two under-appreciated guys were Eddie Perez and David Ross.

Sept. 17, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Now the bullpen coach, Eddie Perez was once a great back-up catcher for 9 seasons.
Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The final two, David Ross and Eddie Perez, are guys from totally different eras that were pure class for the Braves. As far as the numbers go, Ross has the advantage by far: (Ross to Perez) WAR 4.9 to 1.6 for Perez, Runs Above Replacement 48 to Perez’s 18. Ross also hit 16 points better than Perez in his time with Atlanta (.270 to .254) while hitting almost as many home runs in four years than Perez did in nine. The only thing that Perez really holds over Ross is a very small .993 fielding percentage to Ross’ .992.

So here it is: As much as I LOVE Eddie Perez, I’m giving the most under-appreciated catcher since 1990 to David Ross. He was able to step into the lineup on any day, and still had a .270 average as a back up with no promised at-bats. He bolstered the Braves’ bench for his four years with the team, when Perez was primarily a defensive guy.

It was definitely a hard decision between two classy players, and I’m proud to say that they both wore the Atlanta Braves uniform.

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  • Lee Trocinski

    You had to use AVG and FLD% just to irritate me, huh? Ross is the definition of under-appreciated, as his 4.9 WAR the past four seasons rates 17th among catchers throughout the whole league, not bad for a backup.

  • fireboss

    Underrated to me means they are there an play very well but no one notices them outside of Atlanta. David Ross does not fit that criteria. Every national Braves broadcast for the last few years mentioned that Ross was the best backup in baseball. Underrated players rarely get salary doubling contracts in the age 36 year.

    Excluding Ross I’d make the argument that Johnny Estrada is the guy. His 3.7 fWAR is the best of the bunch and while he had 500 less ABs that Perez whom I also like a lot BTW, Estrada generated 19 more wRC+, drove in only 4 fewer runs , had 17 less hits and and had a better slash line across the board than Eddie. Perez mostly caught Greg Maddux so any fielding stat has to be considered in the light of the fact that Maddux didn’t throw wild pitches. Estrada was critical to the Braves success in 2004 catching 134 games. It’s easy to say that had Brian McCann not been in the system Estrada would have been a Brave for a long time.

  • Steven Whitaker

    I’d say Estrada wasn’t under-appreciated. He was an every day guy that was a big part of the lineup the years he was in Atlanta. He was an All-Star AND won a Silver Slugger in 2004. You don’t get those things without recognition from people outside of one single city. What I am looking at is the guys that MIGHT not play every single day, but are a crucial part to what they team does. Some will be starters, some will be bench guys.