Era of special catchers is upon us

Joe Mauer already has an MVP, and he's not the only talented young catcher around. Andy Altenburger/Icon SMI

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The setup

That Joe Mauer guy sure is slick. He won't turn 27 until April, and he already has an MVP award, two Gold Gloves, three Silver Sluggers and three batting titles in his back pocket.

Terrific sideburns, too.

But it would be inaccurate to suggest Mauer is single-handedly carrying the banner for backstops. While Mauer accumulated a gaudy 32 Win Shares last season for the Twins, Atlanta's Brian McCann and St. Louis' Yadier Molina each notched 20 Win Shares under the Bill James player evaluation system. McCann made his fourth All-Star team at age 25, and Molina burnished his defensive credentials with a second straight Gold Glove.

Factor in the arrival of Matt Wieters in Baltimore and Miguel Montero's impressive .832 OPS in Arizona, and the group looks a little deeper. And when you take into account the stockpile of catching talent at the upper level of the minor leagues, the landscape is even more intriguing.

"You could make a case that we might be looking at a golden period for catchers,'' said Mark Newman, the Yankees' senior vice president of baseball operations. "Some of these kids are very talented. They're not just defensive guys, either. They're guys who can play defense and swing the bat.''