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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

BEST: Catcher

I love baseball. I love almost everything about it: the pace of the game, the stadiums, the stats(especially the ones on the back), and the debates. Dayf, of I Hate Glavine & Smoltz & and their stinkin' variations.blogspot claims Mike Schmidt is the best 3rd baseman of all time. I'll get to the hot corner in due time but I'm starting with catcher.

Truth be told, Josh Gibson was probably the best catcher of all-time but I'm limiting my choices to Major League players. Some older players like Ty Cobb and Cy Young may be given less weight in my rankings because they did not always play against the best.
Nothing scientific about my choices, just a few stats and a few thoughts to go with them. Any thoughts are appreciated.

#3 Johnny Bench - 126 OPS+, .267 Avg, 389 HR, 1376 RBI, 14 All-Star games, 4 years of finishing in the top 4 in MVP voting including 2 MVP awards, and 2 World Series Championships
I was an avid baseball bunch fan! And one of my favorite Letterman Top 10 List items: Least favorite Pepperidge Farm cookie flavors - Johnny Bench Nut Cups! Bench was on some really good Big Red Machine powered Cincinnati teams. Each year the nation's best collegiate catcher receives the Johnny Bench Award. (You can get a card signed by Johnny for $60.)

#2 Mike Piazza - 142 OPS+, .308 Avg, 427 HR, 1335 RBI, 12 All-Star games, 7 years of finishing in the top 10 in MVP voting including 3 MVP awards, and 1 World Series appearanceGreatest hitting catcher of all-time! After Seaver, he's the best Met of all-time. And does anybody believe that Roger Clemens didn't throw that bat at Piazza on purpose. First ballot HOFer.

#1 Yogi Berra - 125 OPS+, .285 Avg, 358 HR, 1430 RBI, 15 straight All-Star games, 7 Straight years of finishing in the top 4 in MVP voting including 3 MVP awards, and 10 World Series ChampionshipsThe MVP stats are staggering! He is a legend, even if he did look tiny that final night at Yankee Stadium. 10 championships is incredible. He was Bill Russell before Bill Russell was Bill Russell. (That's right, I said Bill Russell 3 times in that sentence!) (You can get a card signed by Yogi for $50.)

Other catchers considered: Campy, Gabby, Dickey, Cochrane, Fisk

Current catchers who may be great: Mauer, but he won't be a catcher for long, McCann, perrenial All-Star for what that's worth. Pudge doesn't have a job yet but will be a HOFer, just not in the same class as my top three. Wieters is projected to be great. I'll wait and see.

Are you Buck Ewing's great-great-grandson and have a beef with my list? Does your Jason Kendall refractor collection's value hinge on my putting him in my top 3? Let me know what you think.


Unknown said...

Considering that I have drafted all of them at any given time - and I named servers after Campanella and Fisk... I approve this post.

Bay Rat North West said...

I can understand Yogi at 1. But Piazza at 2 above Bench? Piazza played against lesser pitchers in smaller parks. Plus he was a defensive liability most of his career. Bench revolutionized the way catchers played the game. And was a hell of a hitter. I have no problem with Piazza at 3 but not above Bench.

MMayes said...

I grew up on Johnny Bench. I, too, could understand Yogi in first, but no one else is up there with Johnny Bench. Piazza didn't have any MVP awards, although he did finish in the top 3 on 3 different occasions.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I have issues with putting Piazza in the top five. He was a problem behind the plate. Its one thing to be average defensively but its a whole other thing to be terrible.

I tend to be a defensive kind of guy especially for catchers, first baseman, third baseman and shortstops. Oh and center fielders too. Hum, I guess I focus a lot on defense huh.

mmosley said...

I'm willing to bend and give Bench the 2 spot. It's hard to say how many runs Piazza's defense cost his teams. Piazza blocked balls well but he definitely allowed the runners to run. He only threw out 23% of base runners while Bench gunned down 43%. Fisk was in between with 33%. There are some pretty cool fielding statistics out there these days. I just don't know what they all mean yet.

Unknown said...

I'll take Josh Gibson over Berra, Bench and Piazza.

Too bad our countries' racist history did not allow for truly Major league baseball until Jackie Robinson.

Anonymous said...

It's tough to compare players from different era's. Yogi played for the Yankees when there was no draft and no free agency. They bought the talent because nobody else could out spend them. Great player. Absolute first ballot HOF'er, but the sick ammount of talent in NY was why he has 10 rings. Bench was dominant but broke down later in his career. Some of his stats are from years playing other positions. (Yogi too). Jury is still out on Pudge. I don't know where to put him on this list, but what if he gets to 3000 hits, mostly at catcher and 15 gold gloves? Them some big numbers........

Anonymous said...

Unless your talking strictly hitting, Piazza doesn't even belong in this conversation.

Anonymous said...

Major league baseball players put together all star teams that played the Negro league all stars teams many times in exhibition games mostly because both sides made more money than they did normally. The overall outcome was about even proving that both leagues were equal. One was not better than the other. When someone says a team or player didn't play the best all the time, that could hold true for both groups mentioned above.