Catchers of the Last 40 years

December 14, 2017
 2017-66

22.  A Moment for Simba

              Ted Simmons’ has been reminded several times that he was probably not as good as Johnny Bench.   But in the late 1970s, after Bench faded, he was the best catcher in baseball for a couple of years.

 

Rank

YEAR

First

Last

Value

1

1977

Ted

Simmons

27.51

2

1977

Carlton

Fisk

27.19

3

1977

Gene

Tenace

26.01

4

1977

Johnny

Bench

23.90

5

1977

Gary

Carter

22.38

6

1977

Thurman

Munson

22.10

7

1977

Darrell

Porter

20.09

8

1977

Jim

Sundberg

19.81

 

     

 

1

1978

Ted

Simmons

27.94

2

1978

Carlton

Fisk

26.41

3

1978

Gary

Carter

23.73

4

1978

Johnny

Bench

23.04

5

1978

Darrell

Porter

22.70

6

1978

Jim

Sundberg

21.60

7

1978

Thurman

Munson

19.04

8

1978

Bob

Boone

18.28

 

 

              I intended to break each list after 1939 and 1979 to summarize where we were.   I had to move the 1939 break back to 1943 because Bill Dickey was in the middle of a run, and here I will move the break up one season to get it in before Gary Carter takes over. 

              Through 1978 the top 20 catchers in terms of position dominance are in the chart below.   The Hall of Famers are highlighted in blue.   Fisk, Bench, Simmons and Tenace were still active at this time,and their totals were still going up.   Some totals may not match the previous charts because of the changes I made, explained in sections 15-16 of this series. 

 

First

Last

1

2

3

4

5

YOPDI

Yogi

Berra

13

0

0

0

1

131

Bill

Dickey

6

5

4

0

0

111

Johnny

Bench

8

0

1

2

0

95

Gabby

Hartnett

3

7

3

2

0

95

Mickey

Cochrane

8

0

3

0

0

92

Joe

Torre

4

2

1

2

1

72

Wally

Schang

4

2

3

0

2

68

Roger

Bresnahan

4

1

2

1

0

57

Bill

Freehan

2

2

1

2

2

57

Ted

Simmons

2

3

1

1

0

56

Johnny

Kling

2

4

1

0

1

53

Roy

Campanella

0

7

0

1

0

51

Elston

Howard

4

1

0

0

0

47

Ray

Schalk

3

0

2

2

2

44

Walker

Cooper

1

3

2

2

0

43

Chief

Meyers

4

0

0

1

0

42

Tom

Haller

0

3

2

1

0

41

Ernie

Lombardi

2

0

4

1

2

40

Carlton

Fisk

0

3

1

1

0

38

Gene

Tenace

1

1

3

0

0

38

 

              While these are the top 20 catchers, 1900 to 1978, in terms of peak value.

 

YEAR

First

Last

Peak

1972

Johnny

Bench

32.91

1930

Mickey

Cochrane

31.63

1937

Bill

Dickey

31.59

1954

Yogi

Berra

31.47

1951

Roy

Campanella

30.40

1968

Bill

Freehan

29.82

1972

Carlton

Fisk

29.79

1906

Roger

Bresnahan

28.56

1975

Gene

Tenace

28.47

1963

Elston

Howard

28.32

1978

Ted

Simmons

27.94

1935

Gabby

Hartnett

27.13

1966

Joe

Torre

26.51

1967

Tim

McCarver

25.45

1914

Art

Wilson

25.06

1970

Dick

Dietz

24.82

1968

Tom

Haller

24.63

1938

Rudy

York

24.37

1978

Gary

Carter

23.73

1970

Thurman

Munson

23.29

 

              Joe Torre’s peak value was actually not as a catcher; it was in 1971, when he won the National League MVP Award as a third baseman.   And Gary Carter’s best years are still ahead of him.

 

23.  The Gary Carter Years

              From 1979 to 1986 the best catcher in baseball was Gary Carter:

Rank

YEAR

First

Last

Value

1

1979

Gary

Carter

27.32

2

1979

Darrell

Porter

26.34

3

1979

Ted

Simmons

24.15

4

1979

Gene

Tenace

22.70

5

1979

Johnny

Bench

22.65

6

1979

Jim

Sundberg

20.14

7

1979

Lance

Parrish

18.70

8

1979

Carlton

Fisk

17.33

 

     

 

1

1980

Gary

Carter

28.52

2

1980

Ted

Simmons

21.84

3

1980

Darrell

Porter

20.37

4

1980

Lance

Parrish

20.12

5

1980

Jim

Sundberg

19.30

6

1980

Carlton

Fisk

19.03

7

1980

Gene

Tenace

18.01

8

1980

Rick

Cerone

17.94

 

     

 

1

1981

Gary

Carter

26.29

2

1981

Darrell

Porter

21.37

3

1981

Lance

Parrish

19.37

4

1981

Jim

Sundberg

18.65

5

1981

Carlton

Fisk

18.09

6

1981

Ted

Simmons

16.53

7

1981

Terry

Kennedy

15.77

8

1981

Bruce

Benedict

13.45

 

     

 

1

1982

Gary

Carter

29.05

2

1982

Lance

Parrish

23.42

3

1982

Terry

Kennedy

21.55

4

1982

Carlton

Fisk

20.96

5

1982

Darrell

Porter

18.79

6

1982

Bo

Diaz

18.31

7

1982

Ted

Simmons

17.78

8

1982

Tony

Pena

16.96

 

     

 

Rank

YEAR

First

Last

Value

1

1983

Gary

Carter

27.83

2

1983

Carlton

Fisk

23.57

3

1983

Lance

Parrish

23.12

4

1983

Terry

Kennedy

20.31

5

1983

Tony

Pena

19.54

6

1983

Jody

Davis

19.27

7

1983

Darrell

Porter

18.21

8

1983

Ted

Simmons

16.17

 

     

 

1

1984

Gary

Carter

29.92

2

1984

Lance

Parrish

21.55

3

1984

Tony

Pena

19.38

4

1984

Rich

Gedman

19.34

5

1984

Jody

Davis

19.25

6

1984

Bob

Brenly

18.34

7

1984

Carlton

Fisk

17.96

8

1984

Terry

Kennedy

17.16

 

     

 

1

1985

Gary

Carter

29.90

2

1985

Mike

Scioscia

22.63

3

1985

Lance

Parrish

20.48

4

1985

Rich

Gedman

20.44

5

1985

Carlton

Fisk

19.82

6

1985

Jody

Davis

17.81

7

1985

Ernie

Whitt

17.04

8

1985

Terry

Kennedy

16.69

 

     

 

1

1986

Gary

Carter

24.63

2

1986

Mike

Scioscia

18.37

3

1986

Lance

Parrish

17.75

4

1986

Jody

Davis

17.34

5

1986

Rich

Gedman

17.07

6

1986

Ernie

Whitt

16.98

7

1986

Bob

Brenly

16.86

8

1986

Ozzie Jr.

Virgil

15.63

 

24.  A Tribute to Carlton

              There were a cluster of outstanding catchers born in 1947—Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, Thurman Munson, Bob Boone, Ray Fosse, some others of lesser stature.  Gene Tenace was born in late ’46,   Most of these catchers were injured, dead or clearly past their prime by 1980, but Boone and Fisk carried on for another ten years.  Gary Carter was seven years younger than Fisk, but Fisk outlasted him, and had his run as the best catcher in baseball after Carter’s knees gave out.   Pena, Parrish, Gedman, Simmons, Scioscia, Kennedy. .. .they were all younger than Fisk, but Fisk outlasted them all:

Rank

YEAR

First

Last

Value

1

1987

Mike

Scioscia

18.64

2

1987

Matt

Nokes

18.17

3

1987

Ernie

Whitt

17.48

4

1987

Carlton

Fisk

17.43

5

1987

Gary

Carter

17.15

6

1987

Benito

Santiago

16.84

7

1987

Ozzie Jr.

Virgil

14.90

8

1987

Jody

Davis

14.43

 

     

 

1

1988

Carlton

Fisk

18.62

2

1988

Mike

Scioscia

17.15

3

1988

Ernie

Whitt

16.89

4

1988

Bob

Boone

16.83

5

1988

Matt

Nokes

15.29

6

1988

Benito

Santiago

15.26

7

1988

Lance

Parrish

15.00

8

1988

Tony

Pena

14.67

 

     

 

1

1989

Carlton

Fisk

20.80

2

1989

Mickey

Tettleton

19.66

3

1989

Mike

Scioscia

18.16

4

1989

Bob

Boone

17.91

5

1989

Craig

Biggio

16.29

6

1989

Benito

Santiago

16.24

7

1989

Brian

Harper

16.21

8

1989

Lance

Parrish

16.14

 

     

 

1

1990

Carlton

Fisk

20.72

2

1990

Lance

Parrish

20.66

3

1990

Mickey

Tettleton

20.62

4

1990

Craig

Biggio

19.52

5

1990

Brian

Harper

19.09

6

1990

Mike

Scioscia

18.71

7

1990

Darren

Daulton

17.65

8

1990

Sandy Jr.

Alomar

15.83

 

              In 1990 Carlton Fisk was 42 years old, I am sure the oldest man ever to rank at the top of this list, by several years.  In reality, of course, Fisk in 1990 was not the player he had been in the mid-1970s; he was 70 or 80% of the player he had been in the mid-1970s.   But he finally found room at the top of the list.

              In 1991-92 the top catchers in baseball were Mickey Tettleton and Darren Daulton.  Tettleton and Daulton were Gene Tenace-type catchers, with low batting averages but with 100 walks and 25, 30 homers a year spiking their value:

 

Rank

YEAR

First

Last

Value

1

1991

Mickey

Tettleton

24.95

2

1991

Craig

Biggio

22.83

3

1991

Brian

Harper

19.76

4

1991

Darren

Daulton

18.09

5

1991

Matt

Nokes

16.65

6

1991

Benito

Santiago

16.42

7

1991

Terry

Steinbach

16.23

8

1991

Lance

Parrish

15.89

 

     

 

1

1992

Darren

Daulton

25.32

2

1992

Mickey

Tettleton

23.95

3

1992

Brian

Harper

18.99

4

1992

Mike

Macfarlane

16.88

5

1992

Terry

Steinbach

16.53

6

1992

Chris

Hoiles

16.52

7

1992

Matt

Nokes

14.45

8

1992

Joe

Oliver

14.32

 

              Tettelton and Daulton were not Hall of Famers, but they fill in the gap between Hall of Famers.   Daulton was a better defensive player than Tettleton. 

 

25.   Piazza, Pudge, Posada

              After Gary Carter there wasn’t another great catcher who came along for several years, and then three of them arrived about the same time:

Rank

YEAR

First

Last

Value

1

1993

Mike

Piazza

27.41

2

1993

Darren

Daulton

24.08

3

1993

Chris

Hoiles

21.21

4

1993

Rick

Wilkins

19.57

5

1993

Mike

Stanley

19.09

6

1993

Mike

Macfarlane

17.18

7

1993

Brian

Harper

16.23

8

1993

Ivan

Rodriguez

16.17

9

1993

Terry

Steinbach

15.03

 

     

 

1

1994

Mike

Piazza

27.14

2

1994

Mickey

Tettleton

19.13

3

1994

Ivan

Rodriguez

18.34

4

1994

Mike

Stanley

17.84

5

1994

Darren

Daulton

17.25

6

1994

Chris

Hoiles

17.16

7

1994

Terry

Steinbach

15.35

8

1994

Mike

Macfarlane

15.15

9

1994

Dave

Nilsson

14.42

 

     

 

1

1995

Mike

Piazza

32.74

2

1995

Ivan

Rodriguez

19.86

3

1995

Mike

Stanley

19.26

4

1995

Chris

Hoiles

16.80

5

1995

Todd

Hundley

16.19

6

1995

Terry

Steinbach

16.03

7

1995

Dave

Nilsson

15.62

8

1995

Mike

Macfarlane

13.84

9

1995

Darrin

Fletcher

13.57

 

     

 

1

1996

Mike

Piazza

34.58

2

1996

Ivan

Rodriguez

23.42

3

1996

Todd

Hundley

20.40

4

1996

Dave

Nilsson

19.85

5

1996

Mike

Stanley

19.14

6

1996

Terry

Steinbach

17.92

7

1996

Javier

Lopez

17.50

8

1996

Chris

Hoiles

16.09

9

1996

Benito

Santiago

15.96

 

     

 

Rank

YEAR

First

Last

Value

1

1997

Mike

Piazza

36.27

2

1997

Ivan

Rodriguez

26.23

3

1997

Javier

Lopez

21.09

4

1997

Todd

Hundley

19.18

5

1997

Dave

Nilsson

19.01

6

1997

Jason

Kendall

18.64

7

1997

Sandy Jr.

Alomar

17.16

8

1997

Dan

Wilson

16.15

9

1997

Terry

Steinbach

15.10

 

     

 

1

1998

Mike

Piazza

33.08

2

1998

Ivan

Rodriguez

27.85

3

1998

Javier

Lopez

23.42

4

1998

Jason

Kendall

21.77

5

1998

Eddie

Taubensee

15.93

6

1998

Dave

Nilsson

15.38

7

1998

Jorge

Posada

15.17

8

1998

Darrin

Fletcher

14.60

9

1998

Mike

Lieberthal

14.34

10

1998

Charles

Johnson

13.87

 

     

 

1

1999

Ivan

Rodriguez

28.09

2

1999

Mike

Piazza

27.40

3

1999

Jason

Kendall

19.32

4

1999

Mike

Lieberthal

18.83

5

1999

Javier

Lopez

18.06

6

1999

Jorge

Posada

17.29

7

1999

Charles

Johnson

15.57

8

1999

Darrin

Fletcher

15.39

9

1999

Eddie

Taubensee

15.21

10

1999

Brad

Ausmus

14.18

 

     

 

1

2000

Mike

Piazza

27.45

2

2000

Jorge

Posada

25.06

3

2000

Ivan

Rodriguez

24.06

4

2000

Jason

Kendall

19.51

5

2000

Charles

Johnson

18.21

6

2000

Javier

Lopez

17.42

7

2000

Mike

Lieberthal

15.24

8

2000

Darrin

Fletcher

14.01

9

2000

Brad

Ausmus

13.69

10

2000

Mitch

Meluskey

12.94

 

     

 

Rank

YEAR

First

Last

Value

1

2001

Jorge

Posada

25.07

2

2001

Mike

Piazza

23.28

3

2001

Ivan

Rodriguez

21.49

4

2001

Paul

Lo Duca

17.99

5

2001

Javier

Lopez

16.61

6

2001

Charles

Johnson

16.54

7

2001

Jason

Kendall

16.50

8

2001

A.J.

Pierzynski

15.50

9

2001

Ramon

Hernandez

14.11

10

2001

Damian

Miller

13.03

 

     

 

1

2002

Jorge

Posada

25.32

2

2002

A.J.

Pierzynski

19.14

3

2002

Ivan

Rodriguez

18.48

4

2002

Paul

Lo Duca

17.68

5

2002

Javier

Lopez

17.58

6

2002

Jason

Kendall

16.53

7

2002

Mike

Lieberthal

15.73

8

2002

Eli

Marrero

14.83

9

2002

Jason

Varitek

14.47

10

2002

Ramon

Hernandez

14.32

 

     

 

1

2003

Jorge

Posada

26.50

2

2003

Javier

Lopez

25.61

3

2003

Ivan

Rodriguez

21.49

4

2003

A.J.

Pierzynski

20.22

5

2003

Mike

Lieberthal

18.12

6

2003

Jason

Varitek

18.07

7

2003

Jason

Kendall

18.02

8

2003

Ramon

Hernandez

16.96

9

2003

Paul

Lo Duca

16.76

10

2003

Mike

Piazza

16.12

 

     

 

1

2004

Jorge

Posada

23.94

2

2004

Ivan

Rodriguez

21.50

3

2004

Javier

Lopez

19.89

4

2004

Victor

Martinez

19.55

5

2004

Jason

Varitek

18.32

6

2004

Jason

Kendall

17.58

7

2004

Mike

Lieberthal

16.81

8

2004

Paul

Lo Duca

16.81

9

2004

Ramon

Hernandez

16.68

10

2004

Michael

Barrett

16.36

 

     

 

1

2005

Jorge

Posada

22.88

2

2005

Joe

Mauer

22.36

3

2005

Victor

Martinez

22.32

4

2005

Jason

Varitek

17.84

5

2005

Ivan

Rodriguez

17.33

6

2005

Michael

Barrett

16.66

7

2005

Ramon

Hernandez

16.16

8

2005

Paul

Lo Duca

15.38

9

2005

Jason

Kendall

15.28

10

2005

Bengie

Molina

15.26

 

              Piazza was probably the greatest hitting catcher of all time.  

              Jorge Posada dropped off the Hall of Fame the ballot after one round of voting.   But as I see it, Posada was the #1 catcher in baseball for five straight years (2001-2005), and only seven men have done that—Cochrane, Dickey, Berra, Bench, Carter, Piazza and Posada.   He didn’t do that over weak competition; he did that over Rodriguez, Pierzynski, Javier Lopez, Varitek, a young Joe Mauer and a fading Piazza.  

 

26.  The Joe Mauer Years

              It has been almost a decade now since Joe Mauer lost his magic; it is almost 2018 and his last great year was 2010.  My sense is that not that many fans remember anymore how formidable a player he was.  We think of Joe Mauer now as the Joe Mauer we have had for the last seven years.  At his best he was a sort of combination of George Brett and Jim Sundberg.  Any game against Minnesota revolved around trying to keep Joe Mauer from beating you with his bat. 

 

Rank

YEAR

First

Last

Value

1

2006

Joe

Mauer

28.88

2

2006

Jorge

Posada

23.48

3

2006

Victor

Martinez

23.17

4

2006

Ivan

Rodriguez

20.54

5

2006

Brian

McCann

18.55

6

2006

Ramon

Hernandez

17.63

7

2006

Bengie

Molina

15.55

8

2006

Paul

Lo Duca

15.45

9

2006

Russell

Martin

15.24

10

2006

Michael

Barrett

14.92

 

     

 

1

2007

Joe

Mauer

28.75

2

2007

Victor

Martinez

25.01

3

2007

Jorge

Posada

22.92

4

2007

Russell

Martin

19.81

5

2007

Brian

McCann

19.06

6

2007

Bengie

Molina

16.13

7

2007

Yadier

Molina

14.99

8

2007

Ivan

Rodriguez

14.91

9

2007

Ramon

Hernandez

14.44

10

2007

Kenji

Johjima

13.72

 

     

 

1

2008

Joe

Mauer

31.16

2

2008

Brian

McCann

19.85

3

2008

Russell

Martin

19.33

4

2008

Geovany

Soto

18.55

5

2008

Victor

Martinez

17.82

6

2008

Yadier

Molina

17.15

7

2008

Bengie

Molina

16.79

8

2008

Ryan

Doumit

16.13

9

2008

Kurt

Suzuki

15.54

10

2008

Jorge

Posada

15.28

 

     

 

1

2009

Joe

Mauer

31.26

2

2009

Brian

McCann

21.10

3

2009

Victor

Martinez

20.79

4

2009

Yadier

Molina

19.68

5

2009

Russell

Martin

17.27

6

2009

Jorge

Posada

16.95

7

2009

Carlos

Ruiz

15.58

8

2009

Kurt

Suzuki

15.56

9

2009

Miguel

Olivo

15.21

10

2009

Bengie

Molina

14.96

 

     

 

1

2010

Joe

Mauer

28.22

2

2010

Brian

McCann

20.83

3

2010

Yadier

Molina

20.24

4

2010

Carlos

Ruiz

20.04

5

2010

Buster

Posey

18.70

6

2010

Miguel

Montero

16.67

7

2010

Geovany

Soto

16.29

8

2010

Matt

Wieters

15.53

9

2010

John

Buck

15.29

10

2010

Miguel

Olivo

15.23

 

 

27.  Buster

              Since Mauer faded the best catchers in baseball have been Buster Posey and Yadier Molina, and I say that out of respect for Yadi, but it is really just Buster:

Rank

YEAR

First

Last

Value

1

2011

Miguel

Montero

25.21

2

2011

Alex

Avila

23.68

3

2011

Yadier

Molina

22.54

4

2011

Brian

McCann

22.47

5

2011

Joe

Mauer

21.59

6

2011

Matt

Wieters

21.59

7

2011

Carlos

Ruiz

20.96

8

2011

Mike

Napoli

20.64

9

2011

Buster

Posey

20.31

10

2011

Russell

Martin

15.23

 

     

 

1

2012

Buster

Posey

32.56

2

2012

Yadier

Molina

27.83

3

2012

Joe

Mauer

24.32

4

2012

Miguel

Montero

23.98

5

2012

Carlos

Ruiz

22.74

6

2012

Matt

Wieters

22.10

7

2012

Brian

McCann

18.59

8

2012

Jonathan

Lucroy

18.41

9

2012

A.J.

Ellis

17.93

10

2012

A.J.

Pierzynski

17.56

 

     

 

1

2013

Buster

Posey

28.65

2

2013

Yadier

Molina

28.18

3

2013

Joe

Mauer

23.69

4

2013

Brian

McCann

20.90

5

2013

Jonathan

Lucroy

20.27

6

2013

Matt

Wieters

19.44

7

2013

Salvador

Perez

18.63

8

2013

Russell

Martin

18.63

9

2013

Wilin

Rosario

18.47

10

2013

Miguel

Montero

17.49

 

     

 

Rank

YEAR

First

Last

Value

1

2014

Buster

Posey

30.41

2

2014

Yadier

Molina

24.40

3

2014

Devin

Mesoraco

24.06

4

2014

Jonathan

Lucroy

22.74

5

2014

Russell

Martin

21.86