[Update, June 30, 2010, 1:03 A.M. EST: Thanks to Justin and Mike in the comments, I realized that I had a problem in my spreadsheet, in short -- the league averages weren't updating properly. I've basically fixed it now. The difference was usually only a few tenths of a run per player, so there weren't too many changes to the overall rankings, although Matt Wieters fans will be happy. It was a dumb thing, but I'm glad it got caught. Sorry that I'm still a moron. -- Matt]
I know the last month or so has been difficult for our millions of readers who anxiously awaited these updated catcher defense rankings with baited breath. I won't bore you with the methodological details, alternate accounts of catcher defense, and myriad qualifications. For those (and links to more), check May's rankings, I recommend taking a look at that before commencing with complaining. I'll hopefully being making some modifications to how errors are handled in the future, but for now they stay the same as in the past. Keep at least two things in mind when looking over these: (1) this is an admittedly simple method for getting a handle on measuring something very complicated, and is thus even further from perfection than other defensive stats; (2) there is a difference between observed performance and true talent.
Players are ranked by linear weights runs saved above (or below) average in four categories. fielding errors (FE), throwing errors (TE), passed balls and wild pitches allowed (PBWP), and caught stealing (CS).
Overall Leaders: As alwaysI readily admit that this method is far from perfect, but the leaders and trailers in the overall ranking and individual categories (at least as far as pitch blocking and basestealing are concerned) usually conform well enough to our expectations that I think these rankings get at reality. Yadier Molina's continued presence at the top of the overall rankings at 6.8 runs above average is a good example of this; he ranks at the top for pitch blocking (passed balls and wild pitches) and very close the top for throwing runners out. A bit more surprising, given his age, is Ivan Rodriguez at the #2 spot (+4.5 runs). While Pudge has long had a good defensive reputation, his defense has fallen off over the years, although not this season so far. As mentioned above, my update found that Matt Wieters is actually #3 at +3.8 runs.In a surprise, Miguel Olivo's (#4) ability to gun down runners has so far more than balanced out his inability to block pitches.
Overall Trailers: Jack Moore mancrush George Kottaras might walk a great deal, but in limited playing time so far this season he hasn't really controlled the running game, either, coming in at #86 overall. #88 Mike Napoli, is an "impressive" -5.1 runs in catcher defense despite playing a fair bit of first base -- although I'm sure just about every team would take his bat behind the plate, especially given that Jeff Mathis isn't exactly a whiz back there, either (#76 at -1.3 runs in only 672 defensive PA). John Hester of Arizona has managed to be -5.5 runs in a heroic 528 plate appearances. I'd say that was "par for the course of Arizona's season," except I really should save it for Pittsburgh's Ryan Doumit, who brings up the rear (#90) at -6.8 runs. Remember that good season he had that one time?
Pitch Blocking (WP/PB) Leaders and Trailers: As mentioned, Yadier Molina leads the rankings at +3,3 runs, with Matt 'Deadly Accurate' Wieters (badly misrepresented by my previously broken spreadhsset) and Joe Mauer following closely at +2.5 each. It's worth noting that Joe Mauer is good defensively, but he's going to have to be better than this if he's only going to have a .350 wOBA -- he is one of the few catchers for whom that kind of offensive production is disappointing. At the bottom of the back we have poor Jon Hester at -3.8 runs, Bengie Molina shows why Buster Posey is playing first at -2.8 runs, and Mike Napoli and Rob "I Can't Believe I'm in the Majors" Johnson come in at -2.5 runs each.
Caught Stealing (CS) Leaders and Trailers: Some changes in order occurred with the corrections. The rocket-armed, gloveless, and strike-zone-clueless Miguel Olivo's good year with the bat so far is matched by his ability to gun runners down at 5.1 runs above average, the best in the majors. Toronto's Jose Molina is second at +4.1 runs in limited time. Yadier Molina is third at +3.7 runs. Your limped-armed wonders so far? George Kottaras at -3.6(sorry Jack), Victor Martinez at -3.9 (Varitek's mentoring paying off!), and... wait for it... Ryan Doumit at -6.3. Taking shots at the Pirates is just depressing, so I won't.
The complete (corrected) rankings are after the jump.