Last season, the Boston Red Sox had two established Major League catchers coming into the year: Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Ross. Saltalamacchia was expected to see the line share of starts but Ross was projected to get some solid playing time as well. Things did not go nearly as expected for the Red Sox with Ross getting a concussion twice, once landing on the 60-day DL. Due to this unfortunate mishap, Ross was limited to just 36 games during the regular season hitting just .216 with 4 homeruns and a .298 OBP. On defense, he was his normal self, gunning down 41% of attempted base stealers.
When the World Series came around, Ross found himself in the starting catching role due to struggles from Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Since the Red Sox already had enough great bats in the lineup, they were willing to sacrifice one for a decent hitter who could call a great game behind the dish and make runners think twice before stealing. In 16 at-bats in the World Series, Ross managed to get three hits which is not great, but is better than nothing.
For this season, expect Ross to be in a platoon with AJ Pierzynski, receiving the lesser amount of playing time. With this being said, it is highly likely that Ross could catch anywhere from 60 to 70 games even if Pierzynski is 100% healthy. If something were to happen to Pierzynski, Ross would see more playing time, but at 36 years old, he would not be playing in 90% of the games like Saltalamacchia did last season with Lavarnway as his backup. As far as numbers go, obviously expect an exceptional throwing arm as usual. If Ross throws out around 40% of base runners, people should not be surprised since he has thrown out 39% lifetime and with age his arm has not declined at all. On offense, Ross might not be the best player around, but he can and will certainly hold his own in the big leagues. Realistically, he should hit in the .240 range with an OBP close to .320 if he is fully healthy. This is because his OBP is on average 85 points higher than his batting average and in his 2012 campaign, he was able to hit .256. Ross also has some pop to his bat and in the 70 games he should play in he could realistically hit something like eight homeruns. Keep in mind the Red Sox catching as a whole should hit more than 20 combined between Pierzynski and Ross. On the basepaths, the good news is Ross stole a base last year. The bad news is he only has two in 12 seasons in the Major Leagues. With this being said, it is almost certain that the Red Sox will not rely on Ross for his speed, and if they do, there is a serious problem.
Overall, expect Ross to serve his purpose well this season. Although he is not Babe Ruth at the plate, he should be able to get on base more than an average player and hit a few homeruns along the way. His defense gives him pride though, and teams will not steal as many bases when Ross is behind the plate. Not to mention Pierzynski has an impressive arm as well.
Looking ahead at the future, this is most likely going to be David Ross' last season in the big leagues. The Red Sox have a stockpile of young talent and catching is no exception. Christian Vazquez who is set to make his MLB debut this season and if all goes well, he will be the successor to Ross and Pierzynski as the Red Sox starting catcher in 2015. In addition to Vazquez, Blake Swihart is on the rise and could make his way into the big league discussion come 2015. Both of them together could provide a very bright future for the team, but for now, David Ross and AJ Pierzynski together will make for a solid platoon of Red Sox catching. Follow me on Twitter @CLNS_Tom