Both of the starting catchers have been extremely injury prone throughout their careers. d’Arnaud played in only 67 games last year, dealing with a broken finger and sprained elbow. He had a concussion in 2014. Ramos was actually healthy in 2015 for the first time in quite some time. He played in over 100 games for the first time since 2011. Over the past four years, Ramos has dealt with knee, hand, and hamstring injuries. His 128 games last year, however, were awful. Ramos posted a .229/.258/.358 line with an OPS+ of 64.
When on the field last year, d’Arnaud enjoyed his first real big-league success. He hit .268/.340/.485 with 12 home runs and 41 RBIs in less than half a season’s worth of games. His OPS+ of 128 approaches elite levels for the catcher position. Where Ramos struggled at the plate, d’Arnaud struggled behind it. He threw out only 33% of baserunners. In the World Series, the Kansas City Royals ran wild on him, stealing seven bases in five games without a single failed attempt. Ramos is the better defensive catcher by a wide margin.
Both catchers have their flaws. If Ramos can get back to slashing in the .260/.330/.450 range, the Nationals should come out on top at the catcher position. Ramos seems to be going backwards though, and the league’s pitchers may have found the holes in his swing over the course of a full season. Despite the serious defensive concerns that come with d’Arnaud, his career arc appears to be on a more upward trajectory.
The Verdict: d’Arnaud