Grayson Greiner deserves to be considered among nation's best catchers

South Carolina's Grayson Greiner, right, celebrates at home plate with Chase Vergason after hitting his second home run against Clemson during an NCAA college baseball game, Sunday, March 4, 2012, in Clemson. Greiner was named one of 15 semifinalists for the Johnny Bench Award, given annually to the nation's best catcher.

COLUMBIA - South Carolina junior Grayson Greiner has met everyone's expectations this season, developing into one of the finest catcher's in the nation.

Already, Greiner has 11 more RBIs than his sophomore season. He's also doubled his home run production from last spring, and his batting average is .46 points higher.

Greiner was rewarded for his production Thursday when he was named one of 15 semifinalists for the Johnny Bench Award, given annually to the nation's best catcher. Three finalists will be announced June 3. Each will be brought to Wichita, Kan., where a winner will be announced June 26 at the 17th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet.

As you may expect, there are some gaudy individual statistics among the semifinalists. Check out Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost's .419 batting average. Or St. Joseph's catcher Brian O'Keefe's 52 runs scored. Or Indiana University catcher Kyle Schwarber's 10 home runs and .632 slugging percentage, no easy feat in the dead-bat era of college baseball.

Greiner belongs on that list, too. He's the only semifinalist who plays on a 40-win team. His .344 batting average, 49 RBIs, 11 doubles, eight home runs, .539 slugging percentage, .414 on-base percentage and 24 walks are most among South Carolina batters. Only a handful of semifinalists lead their teams in six offensive categories.

Then, there's defense. Greiner's .995 fielding percentage is tops among the 15 catchers on the list.

Greiner also makes a strong case comparatively. Among the eight catchers from power conferences, he's second in RBIs and home runs, and third in batting average, slugging percentage and runs scored.

Here's a full, statistically breakdown:

Greiner: .344, 37 R, 11 2B, 8 HR, 49 RBI, .539 slugging, .414 OBP

Will Allen, Ole Miss: .351, 35 R, 19 2B, 7 HR, 52 RBI, .540 slugging, .394 OBP

Brett Austin, NC State: .325, 36 RBIs, 12 2B, 4 HR, 29 RBI, .487 slugging, .397 OBP

Anthony Azar, Sam Houston State: .366, 33 R, 8 2B, 9 HR, 42 RBI, .571 slugging, .453 OBP

Aramis Garcia, Florida International University: .353, 33 R, 13 2B, 7 HR, 35 RBI, .588 slugging, .428 OBP

Taylor Gushue, Florida: .317, 27 R, 13 2B, 5 HR, 42 RBI, .466 slugging, .375 OBP

Sean Hagen, Eastern Kentucky: .308, 36 R, 7 2B, 9 HR, 33 RBI, .509 slugging, .435 OBP

Mike Hollenbeck, Illinois State: .366, 30 R, 17 2B, 1 HR, 39 RBI, .483 slugging, .441 OBP

Sean McHugh, Purdue: .302, 23 R, 13 2B, 4 HR, 27 RBI, .434 slugging, .374 OBP

Brian O'Keefe, St. Joseph's: .348, 52 R, 10 2B, 6 HR, 36 RBI .522 slugging, .425 OBP

Max Pentecost, Kennesaw State University: .419, 49 R, 20 2B, 8 HR, 53 RBI, .631 slugging, .478 OBP

Alex Real, New Mexico: .343, 32 R, 25 2B, 2 HR, 46 RBI, .502 slugging, .412 OBP

Kyle Schwarber, Indiana University: .347, 54 R, 14 2B, 10 HR, 34 RBI, .632 slugging, .454 OBP

Mark Zagunis, Virginia Tech: .322, 43 R, 10 2B, 1 HR, 35 RBI, .418 slugging, .432 OBP

Shane Zeile, UCLA: .332, 22 R, 7 2B, 1 HR, 23 RBI, .404 slugging, .409 OBP

Greiner: .344, 37 R, 11 2B, 8 HR, 49 RBI, .539 slugging, .414 OBP

Will Allen: .351, 35 R, 19 2B, 7 HR, 52 RBI, .540 slugging, .394 OBP

Brett Austin: .325, 36 RBIs, 12 2B, 4 HR, 29 RBI, .487 slugging, .397 OBP

Anthony Azar: .366, 33 R, 8 2B, 9 HR, 42 RBI, .571 slugging, .453 OBP

Aramis Garcia: .353, 33 R, 13 2B, 7 HR, 35 RBI, .588 slugging, .428 OBP

Taylor Gushue: .317, 27 R, 13 2B, 5 HR, 42 RBI, .466 slugging, .375 OBP

Sean Hagen: .308, 36 R, 7 2B, 9 HR, 33 RBI, .509 slugging, .435 OBP

Mike Hollenbeck: .366, 30 R, 17 2B, 1 HR, 39 RBI, .483 slugging, .441 OBP

Sean McHugh: .302, 23 R, 13 2B, 4 HR, 27 RBI, .434 slugging, .374 OBP

Brian O'Keefe: .348, 52 R, 10 2B, 6 HR, 36 RBI .522 slugging, .425 OBP

Max Pentecost: .419, 49 R, 20 2B, 8 HR, 53 RBI, .631 slugging, .478 OBP

Alex Real: .343, 32 R, 25 2B, 2 HR, 46 RBI, .502 slugging, .412 OBP

Kyle Schwarber: .347, 54 R, 14 2B, 10 HR, 34 RBI, .632 slugging, .454 OBP

Mark Zagunis: .322, 43 R, 10 2B, 1 HR, 35 RBI, .418 slugging, .432 OBP

Shane Zeile: .332, 22 R, 7 2B, 1 HR, 23 RBI, .404 slugging, .409 OBP