To show this trend, I have catagorized the catchers based on their stats for this season. The top tier catchers for 2012 all have put up the numbers that they are capable of. (I put two injured catchers in this group assuming they would have put up similar numbers if healthy.) The second groug includes elite catchers, who have had down seasons average-wise. Most in this group have had much better seasons. The third group includes catchers that are simply 8th place hitters who may hit about .250-.260. The last group proves my point about how bad a season it has been for catchers. Most in this group have hit for a terrible average and some have lost power they have possessed just a year or two ago.
First, lets give respect to those catchers who have gotten the job done this season. Carlos Ruiz (.325, 14, 58), despite his recent injury, has had a tremendous season for the Phillies. Buster Posey (.327, 16, 69), Joe Mauer (.317, 7, 53), Yadier Molina (.316, 16, 54), AJ Pierzsynski (.289, 21, 61) and Miguel Montero (.283, 13, 64) all have had solid seasons at the plate. AJ Ellis (.287, 10, 33) has been very good for the Dodgers and Salvador Perez (.322, 5, 12 in 115 ABs) has been a beast since he has returned from the disabled list. Milwaukee's Jonathan Lucroy (.323, 6, 33) and Washington's Wilson Ramos (.265, 3, 10) have had their seasons shortened due to injuries.
The next part of the list is probably the most disappointing. These are 7 known catchers who should be part of the first list. Brian McCann (.236, 18, 56) has seen his average drop quietly due to Atlanta's success. Mike Napoli (.229, 17, 40) hit .320 last season. Matt Wieters (.242, 13, 50) and JP Arencibia (.242, 16, 50) are certainly capable of hitting for a higher average. Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.230, 20, 46) has become a home run hitter and Carlos Santana (.236, 11, 47) is a run producer. Both will need to increase their averages if they want to be middle of the order presences. Alex Avila (.246, 6, 31) has fallen from the 19 HR and 81 RBI he had last season.
The next section includes only three catchers, Mets' Josh Thole (.258, 1, 16), Reds' Ryan Hanigan (.273, 2, 13) and Astros' Jason Castro (.254, 2, 20). Though none of these numbers are awful, none can be considered more than a number 8 hitter at this point. All three teams are hoping they can upgrade in the offseason as the numbers mentioned are more suited for a backup.
Finally, the most alarming part of this evaluation. Ten MLB catchers qualify for the last list which means either they are hitting for a putrid average (.200 or less) or are barely hitting over .200 with little to no power. Kurt Suzuki was traded to Washington. He is hitting a career low .228, 1, 18. Miguel Olivo (.209, 7, 31) and Rod Barajas (.202, 8, 20) have hit for more power and had much higher batting averages in their careers. Russell Martin has hit 12 HR and driven in 30 runs, but is hitting just .192 for the Yankees. Geovanny Soto, just traded to the Rangers, was hitting .199, 6, 14 for the Cubs. Ramon Hernandez, subject of many trade rumors with the Rockies, has hit better since his return from the DL but is hitting .219, 4, 22 for the season. Chris Iannetta has had just 85 ABs this season for the Angels. Still, he is expected to be better than his .195, 4, 10 line. It is amazing that Jose Molina still plays most of the games for the Rays. He is hitting .187, 4, 16 with Jose Lobaton hitting .228, 1, 12. John Buck is hitting .172, 8, 27 in the middle of a multi-year contract. Nick Hundley of San Diego has hit himself back to AAA with his .166, 3, 22 numbers. By the way, Hundley was is the only catcher on this list with a lower batting average than Mets catcher Mike Nickeas (.168, 1, 13). And Hundley was sent down almost a couple months ago.