But Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine suggested that catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia has been just as valuable. Despite declining playing time — a nod to groom Ryan Lavarnway — Saltalamacchia has totaled 24 homers and 56 RBIs this year.
Given ample time at the plate, Valentine thinks Saltalamacchia hasn't reached his ceiling quite yet.
"I think he’s one little step away from being an extremely productive offensive player," Valentine said. "I mean, right now, you’d have to think his season is comparable with Wieters, who people are thinking is an MVP of, or close to an MVP of a playoff team. That’s just how close he is, I think."
At this point in the season, Saltalamacchia's Achilles heel has been identifying and executing on breaking balls. It's resulted in 131 strikeouts this season for the 27-year-old, who is currently batting .227.
Even so, Valentine praised the catcher's resiliency.
"I never saw it fall off with his struggles," Valentine said. "And if you look at the video, there’s a lot of times he's sitting where the ball — if the ball went to the place he's sitting, we'd probably get a groundball double play instead of missed by two feet, and wind up a double in the gap. Not every time, but often. Yeah, I’ve said, he’s underappreciated, that’s for sure."
Saltalamacchia is two home runs away from the franchise record for most home runs by a catcher in a season.