Who are the best? An SI poll of coaches, managers and general managers produced these ratings of the top receivers in both leagues. The comments are a compendium of the views of those polled.
1. Bob Boone, Kansas City. At 41, he's still in great shape, gets rid of his throws quickly and is accurate. Runs his staff with authority. Can't move as quickly to block pitches as he used to, but he's a pro's pro.
2. Carlton Fisk, Chicago. With his offense, he's the best all-around catcher in the league. Drawback: He runs the game at his pace and tends to slow pitchers down, upsetting their rhythm. But he knows hitters and hitting.
3. Joel Skinner, New York. Exceptional velocity on his throws—his arm is a great equalizer. Good hands, works pitchers well.
4. B.J. Surhoff, Milwaukee. Superb footwork, average but accurate arm. Tremendous athlete and competitor. For one big game, he might be the catcher.
5. Andy Allanson, Cleveland. Has improved greatly after being rushed to the majors. Good arm, accurate. He's not afraid to speak up or to get dirty.
1. Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles. Terrific handler of pitchers and may be the best in the game at blocking the plate. His arm isn't what it once was, but comes up big in key situations.
2. Mike LaValliere, Pittsburgh. Does everything well, from blocking balls to throwing. Needs to sit every fourth day or so, or his throwing falls off.