by user Steaksammich

Who are the top ten catchers of all time? Please, comment, and let me know. I'm only 25 and not much of a student on the history of the game so I'd love to hear from some who know more about the history or can remember baseball before 1992. Even though I'm not expert, I figure I'll at least try to put together a little list. Also, if you have a story or know some facts about any of these players, now is as good a time as any to add to their bio. Or just drop a comment and I'll add it to the bio myself.

1. Johnny Bench - Bench played 17 seasons, all for the Cincinnati Reds. Most would put Yogi Berra ahead of Bench on this list, but besides AVG, Bench has the edge in most categories. He was a better power hitter, drew more walks, and had much better defense. From 1970 to 1977 Bench reached at least 40 homers twice and hit at least 30 two other times. He struggled in two of his prime years, hitting .238 in 1971 and .234 in 1976, but had at least 104 RBI in the other 6 seasons when he was in him prime. He hit .300 in his career just once (.309 in 1981, but he didn't play a full year) and his average was always fluctuating, but the rest of his game makes him the top catcher of all time.

2. Yogi Berra - Berra is known for his "Yogi-isms" such as "99% of the game is half mental" as well as being one of the best catchers to ever play the game. Berra spent 18 years with the New York Yankees (also spent his final year with the New York Mets in 1965, getting 9 AB's) and finished his career with 358 HR's. He had 10 straight years with at least 20 HR and 80 RBI showing remarkable consistency and durability for a catcher. His best season was in 1950 when he hit .322 with 28 HR and 124 RBI. He was the starting catcher for the Yankees in 14 World Series and has 10 rings to show for it.

3. Mike Piazza - A lot of people misunderstand me when I say this, but I'll say it again. Catcher is the least important defensive position on the baseball diamond in terms of who a team has back there. I'm not saying that the catcher isn't important. He's involved in every play and every pitch. He touches the ball more often than anyone on the field other than the pitcher. He's a big part of the game and an important player on the field. But the difference between one catcher and the next isn't nearly as great as the difference between shortstops or centerfielders. In other words, the defensive difference between Ivan Rodriguez and Mike Piazza isn't nearly as much as the difference between Ozzie Smith and 2004 Edgar Renteria. You're either a catcher or you're not one. And a bad catcher won't cost his team as many runs or as many games as a bad shortstop. That is why, despite the fact that he is a bad defensive catcher, I believe Mike Piazza is one of the greatest players to ever put on a catcher's mask. He has slowed down in recent years, but with a .311 AVG and 397 home runs, it's obvious that this guy was an offensive force.

4. Carlton Fisk - Fisk played the game for 24 years. He spent 20 of them as a full time player. In 19 of those 20 seasons he reached double figures in home runs. There were years when he was completely unspectacular and there were few years where he was actually a star, but for 2226 games spanning 24 years, the man squatted behind the plate. He was never a liability and was always there to help his team win. He leads all catchers in many categories including games caught, runs, and total bases.

5. Ivan Rodriguez - Pudge was on 12 All-Star teams. He won 11 Gold Gloves, 10 of them coming in consecutive seasons from 1992-2001. He has 7 Silver Slugger Awards. And, to round out his trophy cabinet, he won the AL MVP in 1999 when he hit .332 with 35 HR and 25 SB. Rodriguez and Piazza have been the top two catchers of our time and they are both among the greatest of all time.

6. Mickey Cochrane - He wasn't much of a power hitter, with only 119 homers for his career, but he finished with a .320/.419/.478 line. For those keeping score, the AVG and OBP are higher than Piazza's. His defense was poor early on in his career, but he got better as his career went on and he always had a good arm. He also has 3 World Series rings.

7. Roy Campanella - Segregation started his career late and a car accident ended it early, so Campanella played only 10 seasons. He hit at least 30 homers in 4 of his 10 seasons and his 1953 season where he hit .312 with 41 HR and 142 RBI was one of the best ever for a catcher.

8. Gary Carter - Carter was a gold glove catcher with power. He won 3 Gold Gloves and hit 324 HR. He made 11 All-Star teams and won 5 Silver Sluggers.

9. Bill Dickey - He spent 17 years in the majors as the catcher for the Yankees. In his peak he had 4 straight seasons with at least a .300 AVG, 22 HR, and 105 RBI. He finished his career with a .313 AVG and made 11 All-Star teams

10. Gabby Hartnett - The best season of his Hall-of-Fame career was in 1935 when he took home the MVP by hitting .344. He would finish his career with a .297 AVG and 236 HR.


Wed 05/17/06, 6:49 am EST

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