Blog Entry

Vote for the Greatest Catcher of All-Time

Posted on: March 21, 2009 5:53 pm

 Ok, I'm going in a different direction from rock and roll music.   What I want to do is to assemble the best major league team ever.  I'm going to start with the men who wear the tools of ignorance...the beloved catchers.   I'll post the career stats of what I feel are the twelve best catchers of all time.   I want to make a couple notes concerning the defensive numbers on catchers.  Since catching is a very important position to a team defensively, I want to alert you all on some defensive ratings.  Prior to 1956 stats weren't kept on stolen bases against and caught stealing as far as catchers were concerned.   So catchers on this list who played prior to 1956 will have no stats for this and players such as Yogi Berra and Roy Campanella will have incomplete numbers as their stolen base/caught stealing stats will only reflect 1956 and afterward.  One other thing I want to note is on fielding percentage.   Don't take that number too seriously.  Every couple of decades, official scorers tend to give fewer and fewer errors to players.   For instance, Mike Piazza has a career fielding percentage of .989, but the average fielding percentage over his era was .990, making him slightly less than an average fielder.   Mickey Cochrane's lifetime fielding percentage was .985, but that is compared to the norm of .980 during the course of his career.   I also will not be making any mention of gold glove players.   Players before the 60s didn't get gold gloves, and I am one of many who believe that the gold glove award in many cases is a popularity award rather than a true study of defensive achievement.    Without further ado, here is the list of my top 12 catchers

          NAME               Games   Runs    Hits     HR    RBI     BB     SB     AVE    OBP    Slug      Fldg Pct   SB Against    Caught Stealing

  • J. Bench             2158     1091   2048   389    1376   891    68    .267   .342    .476      .990          610            469
  • C. Fisk               2499     1276   2356   376    1330   849   128   .269   .341    .457      .988         1302           664
  • T. Munson          1423      696    1558   113     701   438     48   .292    .346    .410     .982           533           427
  • I. Rodriguez        2267     1253   2605   295    1217  469    124   .301   .339    .475     .991           691           604
  • M. Piazza            1912     1048   2127   427    1335   759     17   .308   .377    .545     .989          1400           423
  • Y. Berra              2120     1175   2150   358    1430   704     30    .285   .348   .482      .989           154           141
  • R. Campanella    1215       627   1161   242     856    533     25    .276   .360   .500      .988            45              35
  • G. Carter            2296      1025   2092   324    1225   848     39    .262   .335   .439      .991         1498           810
  • M. Cochrane       1484      1041   1652   119      832   857     64    .320   .419   .478      .985
  • B. Dickey            1789       930   1969    202    1209   678    36    .313   .382    .486      .988
  • E. Lombardi        1853       601   1792    190      990   430      8    .306   .358    .460      .979
  • G. Hartnett         1990       867    1912   236     1179   703    28    .297   .370    .489      .984

I'll leave this blog up for a week for voting.   Next weekend I'll have a vote for the greatest 1st basemen of all time, so I'll take any suggestions you folks may wish to render to put on that list.   For all of you who voted on my rock blog, thank you very much and I hope you'll also enjoy this as well.  Since I'm providing the career numbers for the players, I'm trying to help those of you who don't consider yourselves very baseball savvy to render an educated vote.  Happy voting all.   I'll refrain from voting on my blogs unless it is to break a tie. 



Since: Dec 11, 2006
Posted on: March 26, 2009 8:41 pm

Vote for the Greatest Catcher of All-Time

Hey Lazer,

Thanks again for considering and adding Josh to the list.  It doesn't change my vote but I feel he is certainly worthy of being named among the games greatest backstops. 

Consider me a huge Ivan Rodriguez fan who didn't realize it until now and doesn't know why he isn't getting more love here.  People keep talking about mainly Fisk and Bench and as I said before I certainly respect these cats.  Great ballplayers.  Feel fortunate to have been a baseball fan when both were playing but in the game of numbers, IRod should be walking away with this.  People have mentioned how their player is near the top in most categories but consider:

  • IRod is 3rd in games played and not finished, as his torrid play in the WBC this year has shown.  He should build on his numbers still.
  • IRod is 2nd in runs scored, 23 behind Fisk in over 230 fewer games played.
  • IRod is 1st in career hits at catcher, almost 250 more than Fisk who is 2nd.
  • While not a bomber, IRod has put up steady HR numbers over his career and will finish over a respectable 300 dingers.
  • IRod is 2nd in career steals at cather, only 4 behind Fisk.
  • IRod is the top fielding catcher on the list.  His defense has always been excellent.  He is first among Gold Glove recipients at the spot with 13 in his 17 year career, as well as being named to 14 all-star teams and winning the 1999 AL MVP award, rarely given to backstops.
  • I can't believe someone mentioned Carlton Fisk's caught steeling rate of close to 50% as good when IRod blows away all but Yogi Berra with an over 87% success rate. 

The only area of the game were IRod is off the pace is with regard to RBIs and BBs.  But his OPB, due to his excellent hitting, is right with the other greats.  He is in the pack in SLG percentage as well despite fewer homers.  I just believe that IRod has put up the numbers to put him at the top of the list. 

Thanks for letting me give my two cents here.  Rock on in peace y'all.


Since: Apr 4, 2008
Posted on: March 25, 2009 8:04 pm

Vote for the Greatest Catcher of All-Time

In other words, I'm glad you made the command decision on Gibson, Lazer.  Its a shame that America didn't come around earlier than 1947 to accept blacks into baseball.  Just like the steroid age has put a psychological asterisk on recent records, all records pre-1947 are up to the same kind of debate.  Gibson is definitly a victim of the era that he lived.  He passed away in his late 30s, 3 short months before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. 

Since: Apr 4, 2008
Posted on: March 25, 2009 7:54 pm

Vote for the Greatest Catcher of All-Time


Whether you want to have a DH or not in a 25 man roster of an all-time team or not, I think Gibson's .359 career average in the Negro League would make him a viable pinch hitting option.   Since African Americans such as Aaron, Bonds and Mays have had just a great of careers as caucasian players such as Ruth, Ted Williams and Cobb, I've got to think that Gibson's .359 career mark in the Negro Leagues would translate well into a MLB average as well.    

Since: Mar 21, 2008
Posted on: March 25, 2009 3:33 pm

Vote for the Greatest Catcher of All-Time

Johnny Bench changed the game.  He brought in the use of the hinged catcher's mitt, where the catcher didn't have to use 2 hands to catch the pitch.  This saved alot of broken and bruised fingers. 

Since: Dec 7, 2007
Posted on: March 25, 2009 3:10 pm

Vote for the Greatest Catcher of All-Time

Could Josh be used as a DH as well.  Every 25 man roster can use someone of his ability.  Great call Lazer.  Glad you included him.

Since: Jun 26, 2008
Posted on: March 25, 2009 2:52 pm

Vote for the Greatest Catcher of All-Time

Josh Gibson should certainly be considered in the company of Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk and Ivan Rodriguez when we're talking about all time great catchers. I said I wasn't going to be doing any voting here, but I feel Josh Gibson should be included in any 25 man roster of any greatest ever team. Josh played 16 seasons in the Negro Leagues. The Negro League schedule was significantly shorter than the MLB schedule as seasons were shorter than 60 games. Due to finances many Negro League players including Gibson played in a ton of barnstorming games against teams of varying quality, and shabby record keeping. However I feel that Gibson's Negro League statistics would be similar to what he could have done in the major leagues as the level of competion would be comparable. Gibson logged 1855 career Negro League at-bats with 115 home runs and a lifetime average of .359. The most games Josh ever played in a single season in the Negro Leagues was 55 so his career numbers should probably nearly be tripled to reflect what he may achieved in 16 seasons in the majors which would put him around 330 lifetime home runs which would probably be a conservative estimate at best. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find any fielding records on Gibson and write-ups concerning Gibson only speak of his hitting prowess. Since I feel VERY STRONGLY that Gibson would have had a career at least on par to the likes of Bench and Berra, I'm going to advance him along with the winner of this vote as the reserve catcher. I hope you all don't mind me making this command decision, but Josh Gibson is regarded by many as the greatest hitter in the history of the Negro Leagues and had he been afforded the opportunity to play in the majors its likely he would be mentioned in the same breath with names like Ruth, Cobb and Hornsby.

Since: Apr 1, 2008
Posted on: March 23, 2009 11:22 pm

Vote for the Greatest Catcher of All-Time

 Gary Carter very underrated but very good

Since: Feb 3, 2008
Posted on: March 23, 2009 10:50 pm

Vote for the Greatest Catcher of All-Time

I'll have to vote for my childhood idol--Johnny Bench. 

Since: Sep 2, 2007
Posted on: March 23, 2009 9:40 pm

Vote for the Greatest Catcher of All-Time

Johnny Bench


Since: Sep 2, 2006
Posted on: March 23, 2009 9:05 pm

Vote for the Greatest Catcher of All-Time

 Great idea Lazer, I will have to keep posting on your blog I guess.

It's unfortunate that probably none of us on this blog will be able to say they saw Cochrane, Dickey, Lombardi or Hartnett, or even video of them, but they were greats at the position.  What about Roger Bresnahan??  His offensive stats weren't the greatest, but he was a very good ball player as well, just a few years back.

I've seen most of the others play, either live or video and there is no question in my mind who the best is;

Johnny Bench

To me, he is the standard that all future catchers will be compared to.  Fisk and Piazza are great, Berra was there too, but Bench was the best.

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