You Are Here > Baseball-Reference.com > Blog >

SITE NEWS: We are moving all of our site and company news into a single blog for Sports-Reference.com. We'll tag all B-R content, so you can quickly and easily find the content you want.

Also, our existing B-R blog rss feed will be redirected to the new site's feed.

Baseball-Reference.com » Sports Reference

For more from Andy and the gang, check out their new site High Heat Stats.

Worst Batting Seasons By Catchers Since 1973

Posted by Steve Lombardi on July 30, 2011

It's a simple list.


.

Rk Player OPS+ G Year Age Tm Lg PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Ray Fosse 10 82 1975 28 OAK AL 147 136 14 19 3 2 0 12 8 0 19 1 1 1 5 0 1 .140 .192 .191 .383 *2/3
2 Tom Donohue 28 84 1980 27 CAL AL 230 218 18 41 4 1 2 14 7 0 63 1 3 1 0 5 1 .188 .216 .243 .459 *2
3 Tony Pena 32 126 1993 36 BOS AL 347 304 20 55 11 0 4 19 25 0 46 2 13 3 12 1 3 .181 .246 .257 .502 *2/D
4 Eli Marrero 33 114 1999 25 STL NL 343 317 32 61 13 1 6 34 18 4 56 1 4 3 14 11 2 .192 .236 .297 .533 *23
5 Matt Walbeck 37 97 1994 24 MIN AL 359 338 31 69 12 0 5 35 17 1 37 2 1 1 7 1 1 .204 .246 .284 .530 *2/D
6 Kirt Manwaring 38 104 1997 31 COL NL 375 337 22 76 6 4 1 27 30 0 78 2 4 2 10 1 5 .226 .291 .276 .567 *2
7 John Flaherty 39 91 1998 30 TBD AL 334 304 21 63 11 0 3 24 22 0 46 1 4 3 9 0 5 .207 .261 .273 .534 *2
8 Bob Boone 40 139 1984 36 CAL AL 486 450 33 91 16 1 3 32 25 1 45 0 6 5 11 3 3 .202 .242 .262 .504 *2
9 Dan Wilson 41 91 1994 25 SEA AL 303 282 24 61 14 2 3 27 10 0 57 1 8 2 11 1 2 .216 .244 .312 .556 *2
10 Barry Foote 43 118 1975 23 MON NL 410 387 25 75 16 1 7 30 17 6 48 1 4 1 9 0 1 .194 .229 .295 .524 *2
11 Mike Matheny 44 106 1996 25 MIL AL 341 313 31 64 15 2 8 46 14 0 80 3 7 4 9 3 2 .204 .243 .342 .584 *2/D
12 Rick Sweet 44 93 1983 30 SEA AL 265 249 18 55 9 0 1 22 13 1 26 0 2 1 11 2 2 .221 .259 .269 .528 *2
13 Junior Ortiz 46 95 1993 33 CLE AL 270 249 19 55 13 0 0 20 11 1 26 5 4 1 10 1 0 .221 .267 .273 .540 *2
14 Skip Jutze 46 90 1973 27 HOU NL 306 278 18 62 6 0 0 18 19 5 37 1 6 2 14 0 1 .223 .273 .245 .518 *2
15 Chad Moeller 47 101 2004 29 MIL NL 349 317 25 66 13 1 5 27 21 1 74 4 6 1 12 0 1 .208 .265 .303 .568 *2
16 Einar Diaz 47 102 2002 29 CLE AL 351 320 34 66 19 0 2 16 17 1 27 6 6 2 13 0 1 .206 .258 .284 .542 *2
17 Fred Kendall 47 103 1975 26 SDP NL 314 286 16 57 12 1 0 24 26 5 28 0 1 1 10 0 1 .199 .265 .248 .513 *2
18 Jim Sundberg 48 131 1983 32 TEX AL 423 378 30 76 14 0 2 28 35 0 64 2 7 1 8 0 4 .201 .272 .254 .526 *2
19 Andy Allanson 49 101 1986 24 CLE AL 323 293 30 66 7 3 1 29 14 0 36 1 11 4 7 10 1 .225 .260 .280 .539 *2
20 Gary Allenson 49 108 1979 24 BOS AL 271 241 27 49 10 2 3 22 20 0 42 1 6 3 8 1 1 .203 .264 .299 .563 *2/5
21 Kirt Manwaring 50 85 1989 23 SFG NL 223 200 14 42 4 2 0 18 11 1 28 4 7 1 5 2 1 .210 .264 .250 .514 *2
22 Buck Martinez 50 89 1978 29 MIL AL 286 256 26 56 10 1 1 20 14 1 42 0 12 4 4 1 1 .219 .255 .277 .533 *2
23 Jose Molina 51 100 2008 33 NYY AL 297 268 32 58 17 0 3 18 12 0 52 6 8 3 9 0 0 .216 .263 .313 .576 *2/3
24 Joe Girardi 51 90 2002 37 CHC NL 256 234 19 53 10 1 1 13 16 3 35 0 5 1 10 1 0 .226 .275 .291 .565 *2
25 Ken Huckaby 51 88 2002 31 TOR AL 283 273 29 67 6 1 3 22 9 1 44 0 1 0 10 0 0 .245 .270 .308 .577 *2
26 Mike Matheny 51 121 2001 30 STL NL 424 381 40 83 12 0 7 42 28 5 76 4 8 3 11 0 1 .218 .276 .304 .581 *2/3
27 Jorge Fabregas 51 88 1999 29 TOT NL 268 231 20 46 10 2 3 21 26 6 27 2 4 5 9 0 0 .199 .280 .299 .579 *2/3
28 Larry Cox 51 105 1980 32 SEA AL 271 243 18 49 6 2 4 20 19 0 36 0 9 0 9 1 2 .202 .260 .292 .552 *2
29 Alan Ashby 51 108 1979 27 HOU NL 370 336 25 68 15 2 2 35 26 10 70 2 3 3 8 0 0 .202 .262 .277 .538 *2
30 Johnny Oates 51 100 1974 28 ATL NL 327 291 22 65 10 0 1 21 23 10 24 0 11 2 4 2 3 .223 .278 .268 .547 *2
31 Chad Kreuter 52 87 1989 24 TEX AL 192 158 16 24 3 0 5 9 27 0 40 0 6 1 4 0 1 .152 .274 .266 .540 *2
32 Yadier Molina 53 129 2006 23 STL NL 461 417 29 90 26 0 6 49 26 2 41 8 8 2 15 1 2 .216 .274 .321 .595 *2/3
33 Gregg Zaun 53 106 1998 27 FLA NL 338 298 19 56 12 2 5 29 35 2 52 1 2 2 7 5 2 .188 .274 .292 .566 *2/4
34 Gerald Laird 54 89 2010 30 DET AL 299 270 22 56 11 0 5 25 18 0 57 3 6 2 7 3 1 .207 .263 .304 .567 *2
35 Dioner Navarro 54 115 2009 25 TBR AL 410 376 38 82 15 0 8 32 18 1 51 5 8 3 14 5 2 .218 .261 .322 .583 *2
36 Brad Ausmus 54 139 2006 37 HOU NL 502 439 37 101 16 1 2 39 45 2 71 6 9 3 21 3 1 .230 .308 .285 .593 *2/43
37 Steve Yeager 54 96 1980 31 LAD NL 248 227 20 48 8 0 2 20 20 6 54 0 0 1 7 2 3 .211 .274 .273 .547 *2
38 Dave Rader 54 116 1978 29 CHC NL 348 305 29 62 13 3 3 36 34 7 26 1 3 5 13 1 1 .203 .281 .295 .576 *2
39 Jeff Mathis 55 94 2008 25 LAA AL 328 283 35 55 8 0 9 42 30 4 90 3 8 4 1 2 2 .194 .275 .318 .593 *2
40 Brad Ausmus 55 143 2003 34 HOU NL 509 450 43 103 12 2 4 47 46 1 66 4 4 5 8 5 3 .229 .303 .291 .594 *2
41 Rich Gedman 55 93 1989 29 BOS AL 289 260 24 55 9 0 4 16 23 1 47 0 3 3 8 0 1 .212 .273 .292 .565 *2
42 Tony Pena 55 116 1987 30 STL NL 425 384 40 82 13 4 5 44 36 9 54 1 2 2 19 6 1 .214 .281 .307 .589 *2/39
43 Larry Cox 55 100 1979 31 SEA AL 323 293 32 63 11 3 4 36 22 0 39 0 3 5 9 2 1 .215 .266 .314 .580 *2
44 Jim Sundberg 55 155 1975 24 TEX AL 540 472 45 94 9 0 6 36 51 0 77 4 13 0 16 3 1 .199 .283 .256 .539 *2
45 Chris Snyder 56 115 2005 24 ARI NL 373 326 24 66 14 0 6 28 40 5 87 4 3 0 6 0 1 .202 .297 .301 .598 *2
46 Gil Reyes 56 83 1991 27 MON NL 229 207 11 45 9 0 0 13 19 2 51 1 1 1 3 2 4 .217 .285 .261 .546 *2
47 Chris Bando 56 89 1987 31 CLE AL 229 211 20 46 9 0 5 16 12 0 28 0 6 0 6 0 0 .218 .260 .332 .592 *2
48 Bob Davis 56 91 1980 28 TOR AL 240 218 18 47 11 0 4 19 12 0 25 1 9 0 9 0 0 .216 .260 .321 .581 *2
49 Larry Haney 56 88 1976 33 OAK AL 196 177 12 40 2 0 0 10 13 0 26 1 3 2 5 0 1 .226 .280 .237 .517 *2
50 Mark Johnson 57 86 2002 26 CHW AL 302 263 31 55 8 1 4 18 30 1 52 3 6 0 4 0 0 .209 .297 .293 .590 *2
51 Brad Ausmus 57 128 2001 32 HOU NL 461 422 45 98 23 4 5 34 30 6 64 1 6 2 13 4 1 .232 .284 .341 .625 *2
52 Rick Cerone 57 96 1985 31 ATL NL 316 282 15 61 9 0 3 25 29 1 25 1 0 4 15 0 3 .216 .288 .280 .568 *2
53 Bengie Molina 58 122 2002 27 ANA AL 459 428 34 105 18 0 5 47 15 3 34 4 6 6 15 0 0 .245 .274 .322 .596 *2
54 Henry Blanco 58 88 1999 27 COL NL 303 263 30 61 12 3 6 28 34 1 38 1 3 2 4 1 1 .232 .320 .369 .689 *2/7
55 Mike Difelice 58 84 1998 29 TBD AL 269 248 17 57 12 3 3 23 15 0 56 1 3 2 12 0 0 .230 .274 .339 .613 *2
56 Brad Ausmus 58 125 1996 27 TOT ML 427 375 46 83 16 0 5 35 39 1 72 5 6 2 8 4 8 .221 .302 .304 .606 *2
57 Joe Girardi 58 125 1995 30 COL NL 506 462 63 121 17 2 8 55 29 0 76 2 12 1 15 3 3 .262 .308 .359 .667 *2
58 Pat Borders 58 85 1994 31 TOR AL 311 295 24 73 13 1 3 26 15 0 50 0 1 0 7 1 1 .247 .284 .329 .613 *2
59 Joel Skinner 58 114 1986 25 TOT AL 336 315 23 73 9 1 5 37 16 0 83 1 2 2 6 1 4 .232 .269 .314 .584 *2
60 Terry Humphrey 58 123 1977 27 CAL AL 339 304 17 69 11 0 2 34 21 0 58 4 7 3 9 1 1 .227 .283 .283 .566 *2
61 Jeff Torborg 58 102 1973 31 CAL AL 284 255 20 56 7 0 1 18 21 0 32 0 7 1 7 0 2 .220 .278 .259 .537 *2
62 Lou Marson 59 87 2010 24 CLE AL 294 262 29 51 15 0 3 22 26 0 55 3 2 1 7 8 1 .195 .274 .286 .560 *2
63 Humberto Quintero 59 88 2010 30 HOU NL 276 265 13 62 10 0 4 20 8 2 59 2 1 0 5 0 0 .234 .262 .317 .579 *2
64 Brook Fordyce 59 95 2001 31 BAL AL 320 292 30 61 18 0 5 19 21 1 56 3 3 1 7 1 2 .209 .268 .322 .590 *2
65 Matt Walbeck 59 107 1999 29 ANA AL 321 288 26 69 8 1 3 22 26 1 46 3 3 1 12 2 3 .240 .308 .306 .614 *2/D
66 Sandy Alomar 59 117 1998 32 CLE AL 438 409 45 96 26 2 6 44 18 0 45 3 5 3 15 0 3 .235 .270 .352 .622 *2/D
67 Kirt Manwaring 59 86 1996 30 TOT NL 255 227 14 52 9 0 1 18 19 1 40 5 2 2 4 0 1 .229 .300 .282 .582 *2
68 Mike Matheny 59 80 1995 24 MIL AL 181 166 13 41 9 1 0 21 12 0 28 2 1 0 3 2 1 .247 .306 .313 .619 *2
69 Donnie Scott 59 81 1984 22 TEX AL 263 235 16 52 9 0 3 20 20 1 44 0 6 2 5 0 1 .221 .280 .298 .578 *2
70 Matt Treanor 60 82 2010 34 TEX AL 272 237 22 50 6 1 5 27 22 0 43 5 4 4 4 1 2 .211 .287 .308 .595 *2/D
71 Henry Blanco 60 114 2004 32 MIN AL 353 315 36 65 19 1 10 37 21 0 56 3 11 3 8 0 3 .206 .260 .368 .628 *2
72 Brent Mayne 60 101 2002 34 KCR AL 370 326 35 77 8 2 4 30 34 1 54 2 4 4 8 4 4 .236 .309 .310 .619 *2
73 Chad Kreuter 60 107 1999 34 KCR AL 368 324 31 73 15 0 5 35 34 1 65 6 2 2 16 0 0 .225 .309 .318 .627 *2/D
74 Jesse Levis 60 104 1996 28 MIL AL 274 233 27 55 6 1 1 21 38 0 15 2 1 0 7 0 0 .236 .348 .283 .631 *2/D
75 Charlie Moore 60 105 1985 32 MIL AL 386 349 35 81 13 4 0 31 27 0 53 1 8 1 12 4 0 .232 .288 .292 .581 *2/9
76 Bruce Kimm 60 100 1980 29 CHW AL 273 251 20 61 10 1 0 19 17 0 26 0 4 1 10 1 3 .243 .290 .291 .581 *2
77 Alan Ashby 60 124 1977 25 TOR AL 459 396 25 83 16 3 2 29 50 3 51 2 10 1 14 0 2 .210 .301 .280 .581 *2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/30/2011.

.

An OPS+ of ten? Really?

This entry was posted on Saturday, July 30th, 2011 at 11:16 am and is filed under Season Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

69 Responses to “Worst Batting Seasons By Catchers Since 1973”

  1. It says that Fosse played a game at 2B in 1975 if you look at his season stats (under position) but I can't find the game. I used PI and he's got no games at 2B, and in the game logs none say he played 2B. What gives?

  2. John Autin Says:

    @1, Thomas -- I can't be sure, but that listing of Fosse with 1 game at 2B looks like either a flat-out mistake, or some freak event with the lineup card.

    His fielding stats show 1 game at 2B, but zero innings played -- not even "0," actually, but blank. Seems like a safe bet that he never actually played 2B during live action.

    I can't quite think of the lineup card scenario that would cause this record. If he had been listed at 2B to start the game, in some sort of ruse, he would be credited with 1 GS there, which is not the case.

    Total guess: Maybe he moved to 2B in a game that was ended by rain before a plate appearance was completed.

    I googled it a few times, but found nothing.

  3. So sad Irabu..

  4. Thanks for taking the time JA!

  5. As a giants fan I am glad Manwaring (and his 69 career OPS+) reached his nadir in another jersey!

  6. So I wondered if 10 would be the record or near the record, and took a look at everyone over 100 PA... not even close. Dean Chance had two seasons in the -50's. That's insane.

    For guys over 140 pa's (which is about what Fosse had) there's still a guy with a -25 ops+. Wow!!

  7. Nash Bruce Says:

    it took about one-hundredth of a second, for the name "Drew Butera", to flash brilliant neon red, in my mind. In the year, 2011, with the emphasis, on not being an automatic out, Drew Butera is being allowed to continue stumbling onward, despite posting a 35 OPS+ (over 165 PA's).
    I guess the promise of his stellar rookie season (45 OPS+), just was too tantalizing to pass on, and so Wilson Ramos got traded (OPS 102, in his first full year, this year) last year, for a one inning+ pitcher no less......(and, even, a mediocre one at that!!)
    Would try to insert something witty at this point, like, "this kid is the son of Larry Cox", but, hello, this kid actually IS the son of Sal Butera. What'd you expect?!?!?!?

  8. Richard Chester Says:

    @6

    In 759 career PA Chance had an OPS+ of -46.

  9. I'm sure each one was under the PA limit but the 1987 Red Sox Trio of Rich "Holdout" Gedman, Marc "Nepotism" Sullivan and John "best one of the 3, but out of baseball next year" Marzano COMBINED for one of the worst seasons of all time.

    I remember that hangover year. The Catchers were the only thing worse that the bullpen! LOL

  10. Lots of Brewers on that list. :Q

  11. Nash Bruce Says:

    @9: Marc Sullivan......nice.
    His career numbers would almost top this list, were they a season.

  12. @7
    Nash, it sounds like you are not a big supporter of Twins personnel moves.

    What am I missing here? The list not include the current season so as to exclude Drew Butera?

  13. @8, I feel a bit foolish, I didn't realize that Chance was a pitcher which makes a bit more sense. -46 is still pretty impressive though...

  14. @9
    Fourfriends, so do catchers get cut even more slack than left-handed relievers?

    Interesting, though, what constitutes an acceptable balance between defense and offense for a catcher. A catcher is expected to call pitches, block dirt breaking balls, block the plate and throw runners out. And hit as well.

    The Johnny Bench's, Pudge Rodriguez's and Pudge Fisk's of the baseball world notwithstanding, any offense you get from a catcher is gravy, isn't it? Look at how Gary Carter and Mike Piazza have derided in here for their poor defense. But they aren't anywhere near this list!

    Pitch calling is perhaps the most difficult statistic to quantify. Bill James, (I hate to quote him here) published pitcher's ERA as a catcher's statistic in the back of a couple of his yearly Abstracts. Perhaps the ERA, just for the opposition plate appearances caught, is a stat that should be available on BBRef for catchers.

  15. @14. That stat is availible. If you click on More Stats next to Standard Fielding and scroll down to Advanced Fielding - C* it's the 3rd column.

    It's an interesting stat... I'm not sure how important I feel it is, but it's certainly in my conversation when talking about "catcher worth."

  16. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    The "opposite" list — single seasons 1973-2011, played 80+ games at catcher with an OPS+ of 130 or higher — contains 77 player seasons by pretty much the guys you'd expect: Mike Piazza (10 seasons); Ted Simmons (5); four each by Carter, Fisk, Hundley, Mauer, Posada, and Tenace; three each by McCann and Bench; two each by Daulton, Ferguson, Hoiles, Porter, Iván (El Nuevo Pudge) Rodríguez, and Tettleton; and the best individual offensive seasons by twenty others.

    What intrigues me is that this "60 and lower" list and the "130 and higher" list have one common name: Chad Kreuter, who put up a 130 OPS+ for Detroit in 1993. Kreuter set career highs in nearly every offensive stat that season, with 431 PA, 59 runs scored, 107 hits, 23 doubles, 15 homers, 51 RBIs, and 92 strikeouts for go-ahead-and-whiff trailblazer Sparky Anderson. His only other season with an OPS+ over 100 was a 116 with the Dodgers in 2000, when he split time at catcher with Todd Hundley. (Yes, that was the season when Kreuter went into the stands at Wrigley Field after a fan had hit him and stolen his cap.) Kreuter's career OPS+ was 84.

  17. If my quick count is correct, Brad Ausmus leads the way with 4 appearances on the list with Mike Matheny in a tie for second with with the Molina brothers, as Bengie, Yadier and Jose all show up on the list once each. Jim Sundberg was a near miss as he had a third season with an OPS of 61 but deserves mention since in his OPS 48 season he managed to make 423 PA's, topped only by Bob Boone who made a whopping 486 PA's in his 40 OPS+ season.

  18. @15
    Thomas, thank you. I never realized that statistic was available. I think it is a significant measure of a catcher, unless the pitching coach is calling pitches from the dugout.

    @16
    Kahuna, nice catch on Chad Kreuter in your post. Your first paragraph included some high-offense catchers that I had forgotten about. You continually provide incisive food for thought in here.

    Kahuna, you will be invited to the first BBref face-to-face convention as a presenter. :-) To be held in Cooperstown? Toronto? New York? :-)

  19. Nash Bruce Says:

    Neil, that's a good idea, but then the issue of pitchers having selected a 'personal catcher' arises. Steve Carlton had Tim McCarver as his personal catcher, for a little while. Greg Maddux also had Eddie Perez was it, at one point, I think?
    I think that during Maddux's dominant years, he could have thrown to his paperboy, and still been dominant. Whether, or how much a particular catcher added to this success, I don't know. But I do know that any catcher who caught mostly Maddux would be a good bet, to be on top of a 'catcher's ERA' leaderboard, year after year.
    This is actually a good example of stats being only as valuable as their context.
    I think that McCarver himself alluded to this once, saying something like, "Bob Gibson is so lucky. Every time he pitches, the other team's hitters always have an off day."

  20. @19
    Hmmm ...... Nash, I forgot about the personal catcher issue and how much difference it really makes. Superstition vs. real difference in ERA?

    With my local team, Jose Molina has been Brandon Morrow's "personal" catcher. Who makes the call, the pitcher or the manager filling out the lineup card?

  21. Clayton Kershaw has Dioner Navarro as his personal catcher right now. I think it's the only thing keeping Navarro on the team, or at least I hope it is.

  22. @1, Thomas, regarding Fosse's possible apperance at 2B, if I had to make a guess at when it happened (assuming it actually did happen), then this is the likely game. Scroll down to the Play-by-Play moves:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/OAK/OAK197509250.shtml

    Lots of shenanigans, including the pitcher Mike Norris playing LF and Oakland losing its DH. Cesar Tovar was also in this game for the A's, appearing at three different positions, including second base. (Tovar a few years earlier was only the second player ever to play every position in a single game, so his mere presence on a team could lead an overly aggressive manager to make lots of moves.) The starting third baseman Martinez also played second base in this game. You'll also see that this is the only game that Fosse appeared at first base that season.

    Now as to why and how...????

    And, btw, what's up with the attendance in this game? Talk about playing before friends and relatives.

  23. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    And, btw, what's up with the attendance in this game? Talk about playing before friends and relatives.

    [*boggle*]

    RobMer, the A's had 77 home dates in 1979, when they were miles from the pennant race. They drew less than that 2,663 in 43 of those dates (including one doubleheader). Attendance in Oakland was a serious concern for the American League back in those days.

  24. And a shout-out to Chris Bando, who played in only 67 games as catcher for the 1985 Indians, but tipped the OPS+ scale at a measly 15 with a .234 OBP and .173 SLG (aided by his .139 BA). In fact, Bando's OPS+ dropped 125 points from a 140 in 1984 to 15 in 1985.

  25. I'm surprised Gary Carter never made this list.

  26. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    Teams with three players each playing 40+ games at catcher, 1901 to 2011, with OPS+ less than or equal to 55:

    2001 Royals: A.J. Hinch, Brent Mayne, Hector Ortiz
    1989 Braves: Bruce Benedict, Jody Davis, John Russell
    1980 Angels: Stan Cliburn, Tom Donohue, Dan Whitmer
    1911 Senators: Eddie Ainsmith, John Henry, Gabby Street

    And now we have a new acronym for our database: EOOI — equal-opportunity offensive ineptitude.

  27. Jeff Mathis should be on the list 2 more times ( 2009, 2010) and will make it this year too! career OPS+ of 52!!

  28. Funny thing about Fosse is that he was the starting catcher on 2 straight World Series champs and had a pretty good career. Career OPS+ of 90, a couple gold gloves, and a .300 season is solid work.

  29. DoubleDiamond Says:

    I see that Pat Borders, one of the "Bookstore 10's" of the 1993 postseason, is on the list for the following season. Each of the four 1993 playoff teams had a catcher who wore #10, and the last names of three of these four were pronounced, but not always spelled, the same as a book store chain. Darren Daulton's differently-spelled namesake chain, B. Dalton, and Greg Olson's differently-spelled namesake chain, Olsson's Books and Records, have been out of business for a while. And Pat Borders' namesake chain, Borders, is soon to be gone from the retailing landscape. (You may not have heard of Olsson's because I think it was only in the Washington, DC, area. But it did have multiple stores.)

    I know that it is not the right time to open a bookstore, and there probably will never be such a time again, but in 1993, I still fantasized owning one. And keeping the spirit of the postseason teams of that year have a catcher who wore #10 and bore the name of a bookstore, I fantasized calling my store LaValliere's Books.

    I wonder if there have ever been teammates named Barnes and Noble.

  30. @22, @23.

    Kahuna, thanks for the note on As attendance woes in '79.

    Evidently, attendance wasn't just a problem when the As were losing. The game of note that RobMer found was from the last week of the '75 season, when the As were in the process of winning their 5th straight AL West title, in defense of their 3rd straight WS title. Even so, they drew under 10,000 in 5 of the 7 games in their season-ending home stand, including 3 times under 5,000. They did draw over 49,000 in their one playoff home game that year.

    The A's clinched the AL West title the day before this Sep 25 game, playing in front of just under 7,500. The "shenanigans" were about not playing regulars. Not a single starter from the clinching game the day before appeared in the Sep 25 game.

  31. Kirt Manwaring and Mike Matheny are the only catchers to make this list in back-to-back seasons.

    Despite his offensive struggles (career 64 OPS+, with a peak year of 81 OPS+), Matheny managed to catch over 100 games, 9 times in 10 years (1996 to 2005).

  32. @31.

    Oops.

    Add Larry Cox to the back-to-back season guys. And, 100 games in both seasons!

  33. Johnny Twisto Says:

    any offense you get from a catcher is gravy, isn't it?

    What do you/people mean when you say this? Obviously you don't mean you'd accept a catcher who literally never got on base, as long as his defense was good, right? There has to be a minimum amount of hitting you'd require, as you would from all positions. This is something WAR can be good for. Acknowledging that it may not accurately account for all a catcher's defensive contributions, it does try to quantify the total hitting and fielding value at every position, so one can see what level of offense constitutes "gravy."

    Re catcher ERA, as others mentioned, there's a lot of noise in there. I assume there is some individual ability involved, but there are so many other variables that it's been hard to isolate. Somewhat like pitcher BABIP, I assume the really poor defensive catchers have been filtered out before they reach the majors, so there is not too much difference in true catcher ERA talent, and it would take many years to confirm which might have some positive ability there.

    ***

    I'm surprised Gary Carter never made this list.

    Me too, as he was so well known for being a terrible hitter.

  34. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    I wonder if there have ever been teammates named Barnes and Noble.

    This appealed to the bibliophile in me. Answer: Just briefly, for a couple of weeks in early and mid-July 1921. Pitcher Walter Noble Zink made relief appearances in two games for the New York Giants, whose starting rotation featured (among others) Jesse Barnes. I hope a middle name will satisfy your criteria, DD, because that's all there is.

    Six different Barneses have played in the majors since Noble Jan Dukes's career ended in 1972. According to B-Ref, the only Noble currently in pro ball is Chad Noble, a 23-year-old catcher batting .230 with a .551 OPS for the High-A Daytona Cubs in the Florida State League. The Cubs drafted Noble in the 37th round in 2010. There are probably about ten Barneses scattered around the minors, the best-known of whom, UConn right-hander Matt Barnes, was taken 19th overall in the 2011 draft by the Red Sox.

  35. How about teammates named "Booksa" and "Million"?

  36. @23, @30- in regards to A's attendance woes in the late 70's I remember a picture in SI, I believe during the 1979 season in September, that showed
    the "crowd". I believe the attendance was around 600 people. By 1979 the A's were truly horrible. Considering that Charlie O, the owner, not the mule, let Reggie Jackson, Gene Tenace, Joe Rudi, Sal Bando, Catfish Hunter, Ken Holtzman,Vida Blue and Rollie Fingers sign lucrative free agent contracts elsewhere, the lack of attendance in 1979 can be understood. Even by 1975 I believe the fans knew what Charlie O was planning, and the lack of attendance that year was probably due to the fact that the fans knew what was coming, Catfish had left to sign with the Yankees before the 75 season and the fans knew this was just the start. It's impossible to imagine a team owner breaking up a team that won 3 staight world series' today. But that is just what he did.

  37. And the sad thing is that Joe Girardi's ".262 with 8 HR and 55 RBI" here probably fooled more than a few people into thinking he had a decent little year. Thus was the perfect storm of playing in Colorado in 1995.

  38. Brewers have 6 of 'em!

  39. Again Jeff Mathis is working on his 4th straight year!

  40. DoubleDiamond Says:

    @34 In fact, after I posted my comment about the "Bookstore 10's" last night, I did some searches here with the various bookstore names. I thought about Books-A-Million, which has entered the Philadelphia market recently. I didn't do a Booksa search until right now, and it came up empty. I did search for "the million". I knew that the Rockies had a top pitching prospect named Doug Million who died of asthma or some similar disease while at AA in the 1990s, but I figured that some major leaguer likely had a nickname such as "Million Dollar Arm" or "Five Million Dollar Man". However, Doug Million's minors page is what came up. "Million" by itself brings up Doug Million and two long-ago minor leaguers.

  41. Some of those guys had decent or even good offensive numbers in other seasons.How much of bad years by a catchers is hand/finger injuries of the nagging sort?In hockey,players who could score but did some fighting might have a down season due to sore hands.

  42. Richard Chester Says:

    @36

    Finley only did what former A's owner Connie Mack did twice before many years ago.

  43. 42 Yeah,and the list of players he dumped was more impressive.Jimmie Foxx,AlSimmons,Mickey Cochrane etc.

  44. Thank you (sarcastically) for reminding me of Brook Fordyce in 2001, who was signed by the Orioles for 3 years and $9 million, replacing Charles Johnson who had only managed to be an all-star in 2000. He was supposed to be the "catcher of the future" even though he was older than Johnson and by the end of the year had lost his job to Fernando Lunar who I am surprised not to see on this list. What a sad team for Cal Ripken Jr's last year...still just as sad 10 seasons later!

  45. @28,

    There has been a lot of discussion surrounding Fosse's offensive decline to his collision with Pete Rose in the 1970 All-Star Game.

    It is hard to say, since 1970 was really his only great season prior to the collision. And he was an All-Star the following year in 1971. But his "power numbers" were severely cut during the second half 1970 - and they never really recovered.

    Ray did have a nice career, though, like you mentioned, and was instrumental in 2 World Championships. He did increase his 10 OPS+ season with a 110 in 1976 (300 PA). I am sure that has not happened too often.

  46. Re: the Fosse @ 2B game, during Dick Williams' tenure with the A's, he occasionally "started" road games with people like Jay Johnston, Billy Conigliaro and others at 2B near the top of the lineup and then replaced them in the bottom of the 1st w/one of his light hitting 2B's (Ted Kubiak, Tim Cullen, Dick Green, John Donaldson, etc.). Not sure that was the case in the Fosse game, but perhaps so. He would often pinch hit each time that spot came around (these were post DH seasons, but with 8 or 9 man pitching staffs).

  47. @14, @33:

    Hector Villaneuva is intrigued by the combination of "catchers" and "gravy".

  48. @36 regarding breaking up a World Series team,

    The recent break-up of a WS team (closely resembling the A's of the mid 1970's) was the 1997 Marlins.

    The list of players (that were major/minor contributors to the 1997 Championship) that were gone from the Marlins by the end of 1998 (through Free agency, Expansion Draft or trades):
    Darren Daulton, Jeff Conine, Kurt Abbott, Moises Alou, Devon White, Kevin Brown, Al Lieter, Tony Saunders, Dennis Cook, Jay Powell, Ed Vosberg, Robb Nen...

    And we can't forget this infamous string of transactions:

    May 14, 1998 - Marlins Traded Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich, Charles Johnson and Gary Sheffield to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Received Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile.

    May 22, 1998 - Marlins Traded Mike Piazza to the New York Mets. Received Geoff Goetz (minors), Preston Wilson and Ed Yarnall.

    July 31, 1998 - Marlins Traded Todd Zeile to the Texas Rangers. Received Daniel DeYoung (minors) and Jose Santo (minors).

    That is a fire sale.

  49. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @9/ Fourfriends1679 Says: "I'm sure each one was under the PA limit but the 1987 Red Sox Trio of Rich "Holdout" Gedman, Marc "Nepotism" Sullivan..."

    Fourfriends1679, actually it was not the PA minimum, but the Games Played minimum of 80 (Sullivan had 60 games played in 1987) that leaves Sullivan off this list. His 1987 season is just about as impressive as Fosse's 1975 in its offensive wretchedness:
    in 173 PA, 2 HR, 10 RBI, a .slash of .169/.198/.238, and a 14 OPS%

    Does anybody rememember Bill James' great rant about Marc Sullivan in his last (1988) Abstract?

    For those not familiar with the sequence of events:
    - Rich Gedmen had been the RS starting catcher a number of years (1982-86), and an All-Star in 1986
    - he was a free agent after the 1986 season
    - due to collusion, no other team made him an offer, so he had to go back to the RS
    - due to the bizarre rule that a free agent could not sign with his former team
    till May 1st if they waited beyond a set deadline after they became a free agent, Gedmen could not play for the RS the first month of the season
    - since Gedmen could not play for the RS in April, Marc Sullivan became the RS Starting Day catcher

    Anyway,James got all worked up over the idea of the son of the owner (Heyward Sullivan was a part-owner of the RS) who got this opportunity
    to be starting catcher which was totally UN-merited, batting .193 and .174 the previous two years. He also gave examples of other owners' sons who were traded away by their teams and not rewarded with starters' jobs.

    Anyone else remember this?

  50. @14 @33
    I take your point, JT, about WAR being the be-all and end-all measure of player value, but the blog was about the batting of catchers.

    By making the "gravy" remark, I was parroting Greg Zahn, an old-school guy, now a local TV commentator who believes a catcher's first job is defense, pure and simple. Preventing wild pitches not to mention pass balls, positioning the glove and body properly, throwing out baserunners. Offense, in his opinion, is purely secondary. That is, perhaps, an extreme view, but it does highlight the enigma that is the catching position.

    One expects less offense of a catcher than of any other position except pitcher. Aren't "high-offense", "poor-defense" catchers fairly quickly shuffled off to another position?

    However, come contract time, good defense as a catcher probably only earns you a backup or mentor role on some team, whereas offense adds an extra digit to your yearly salary.

    Anyway, I'm rambling. So, if you use WAR to evaluate catchers, the same as for other positions, anything above zero is good? I still think dWAR probably still struggles with the "intangibiles" of the catching position.

  51. @9 @49
    Lawrence, now that you spell it out I do remember the Red Sox catching circumstances of 1987. Although I bought the 1988 Bill James Abstract, I don't recall his rant specifically against Marc Sullivan's '87 season.

    Thank you for elaborating. Fourfriends' references in #9 went right over my head.

    I had also forgotton about what you call the "bizarre free agent rule". You're right about Rich Gedman. And it affected Rock Raines one year as well. Nice recall!

  52. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @50/ Neil L. Says: "...@14 @33 ...By making the "gravy" remark, I was parroting Greg Zahn, an old-school guy, now a local TV commentator who believes a catcher's first job is defense, pure and simple..." "...Offense, in his opinion, is purely secondary. That is, perhaps, an extreme view, but it does highlight the enigma that is the catching position..."

    Yes, I've heard that point-of-view expressed many times, i.e. "I don't care what they hit, as long as they can actually CATCH". I have also seen it applied to shortstops too. I do not believe that the speaker ever means it_ literally_ . There is a certain minimum offensive level a catcher (or SS) has to maintain, no matter how good they are defensively, to play regularly in MLB.

    If they don't meet that level, the team will eventually get someone else to play regularly, it's as simple as that. "Pitcher" is the only position where a team literally does not care what a player's offensive contributions are.

    People often cite Ozzie Smith as an all defense/no-offense shortstop, but he was far from that; from 1985 on, he was about league-average offensively, and well above-average offensively if you include his baserunning value. He certainly had more offensive value than Alfredo Griffin or the other Ozzie (Guillen).

    Neil L., your point about what teams offer "defense-only" catchers come contract time is very well-taken.

  53. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    Neil L. Says: "...@9 @49... ...I had also forgotton about what you call the "bizarre free agent rule". You're right about Rich Gedman. And it affected Rock Raines one year as well. Nice recall!"

    Thanks, Neil L. Tim Raines also missed the first month of 1987 due to collusion and signing w/his former team, which may have cost him the NL MVP that year. I recall seeing his first game back in 1987, on the Saturday Game of The Week, when he hit a game-winning grand slam HR in the 10th inning off Jesse Orosco - wow.

    James' rant re:Marc Sullivan may have been in another, later, source than his '88 Abstract.

  54. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Neil/50, I certainly don't think WAR is the final word on player value. When have I ever said that? I rarely even refer to it in my comments except when responding to others' questions about it.

    Anyway, my point was merely that the concept and basic framework of "wins above replacement" (not necessarily the exact measurement featured on this site) is useful in determining the value of a glove-first catcher. Of course you are absolutely correct that less offense is expected from the position. And I was just wondering what people actually mean when they say they don't care what a catcher hits if he can handle the position defensively. A .200 BA? A .550 OPS? I don't know if folks who have that opinion actually have a minimum threshold in mind, but surely there must be one, somewhere north of absolute zero (and south of Jeff Mathis?).

  55. @54
    Johnny T., with respect, and you know I mean that sincerely, don't be so touchy.

    If my choice of words in #50 mis-represented your thoughts earlier then that was my mistake. I took your post to mean that just look at WAR for catchers and you have the answer about who is the best.

    Anyway, why are we squabbling when there are real baseball mysteries to solve? (I won't insult you with a happy face.)

  56. @55
    Actually trying to break down catcher's career WAR into offense and defense, requiring 70% games played at catcher,
    Player Total WAR Offense WAR Defense WAR
    Johnny Bench 71.3 64.8 6.5
    Ivan Rodriguez 68.0 50.5 16.7
    Carlton Fisk 67.3 64.7 2.6
    Gary Carter 66.3 56.3 10.0
    Yogi Berra 61.9 59.3 2.6
    Mike Piazza 59.1 67.4 -8.3
    Bill Dickey 54.4 54.2 2.0
    Mickey Cochrane 51.2 51.5 -0.3
    Ted Simmons 50.4 55.6 -5.2
    Gabby Hartnett 50.3 49.2 1.1

    Complete list here for total WAR:
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/play-index/shareit/LvG7I

    The breakdown done by eyeball on player pages. I assume the minor discrepancies are for base-running.

    A few miscellaneous catchers who I thought were good, Jim Sundberg (Total WAR 35.1, dWAR 10.4) and Tony Pena (Total WAR 18.7, dWAR 2.7!)

    So Ivan Rodriguez is the greatest defensive catcher all-time and Mike Piazza is the greatest offensive all-time as measured by WAR. Granted that the stats include all their defensive positions played.

    So why should a catcher even worry about his defense? Seriously. Just put your best-hitting stiff behind the plate ans let him drive in runs.

    All the top WAR catchers in history are primarily offensive.

    So is the problem in how total WAR values catchers or is it in how we, as baseball-watchers, view catchers. What I mean is accepting anemic offense from supposedly valuable backstoppers.

  57. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Neil, I think because teams *do* treat catcher as a position of high defensive importance, we don't ever see major league catchers who are truly poor defenders. The "stiffs" get filtered off to different positions in the minors. There's no telling how many runs it might cost a team to have a guy who can't block balls, can't throw runners out, and who just makes his pitchers uncomfortable.

    But by using the oWAR/dWAR breakdown, it guarantees that almost every notable player will appear to be primarily offensive, since it includes the positional value on the offensive side. Slide that to the defensive side, and I think it's a more accurate depiction of which players were reliant on their defensive value. (Though since you're comparing catcher to catcher, it won't make a big difference.)

    ***

    Sorry if I came off as overly defensive before. Obviously I post here a lot, so I want other posters to understand where I'm coming from and my thoughts on various things. If you had misunderstood my earlier post, it's my fault for not writing clearly enough, and I just wanted to clarify my opinion.

  58. @57 (last paragraph)
    Johnny T., thanks for writing. I do look up to you in BBRef and I have my attitude problems in posting that I have tried to reign in.

    The posters in so many other baseball sites spend more time calling each other names (not saying you've ever done that) than actually sharing collective observations. We've all remarked that the civility and mutual respect, even for beginners, in BR is what sets it apart and I would do anything to contribute to that.

    Besides all that, I am still interested in what I am going to call the catcher enigma.

  59. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Neil, I don't remember you ever exhibiting anything close to an attitude problem. You seem to be about the friendliest and most levelheaded poster in here.

    GROUP HUG EVERYBODY!

  60. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Below is a link of everyone who caught at least 500 games in the past 10 seasons. The worst hitters who get to keep playing have OPS+ around 65, are worth about 28 runs below average per 600 PA, and are all rated as plus defenders.

    http://bbref.com/pi/shareit/9ORh3

    This does not include Jeff Mathis, who has only caught 379 games so far. He has been a worse hitter than anyone on this list.

  61. @59
    JT, thank you. I was impatient with Timmy P in here twice in my posts and I did accuse Andy of being East-Coast centric in BBRef once. I'll confess now that my rant at Andy was after three beer. So I have stepped out out of line before.

    @60
    Amazing list, Johnny, from my point of view. I've clicked on it and will need a while to absorb the information. Gotta go water the garden and lawn but ....... Jose Molina ranked so highly? I realize the list is only since 2002, but still ......

  62. Nash Bruce Says:

    Just an opinion, but I think that Piazza might have been fortunate, to play in a higher-scoring era, where giving up a stolen base, might not have been as damaging, as in other eras. Also, teams just didn't run quite as much, in Piazza's day, as they had in the years previous.
    If Piazza had needed to go up against the Running Redbirds of the 1980's, for example, his defensive liabilities would have been much more of a burden to bear. On the other hand, it would still be incredibly difficult to pass up a chance to put a guy who could hit like that, at the catcher position, rather than at 1B or LF.
    So, maybe it wouldn't have mattered after all.

  63. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Neil/61, I ranked that list by ascending order of OPS+, so Molina has the worst of any catcher with at least 500 games in the past decade.

    (And I forgot about your Timmy altercations, but those can hardly be counted...)

    Nash/62, agreed about Piazza in the '80s. On the other hand, if he had caught in the '40s/'50s, when hardly anyone ran, I wonder if he'd even have a negative defensive rep.

  64. sorry but I am unable to figure out how to post my own stats so I will have to quietly appear at the end of this posting.Thank You and Good Nite. Gosh.
    Pitchers with 20 wins but an ERA+ below 100.
    Only 6 pitchers since 1970 but Stan Bahnsen appears on both lists.
    yr. pitcher ERA+ W-L ERA
    1972 Stan Bahnsen 88 21-16 3.60
    1980 Joe Niekro 93 20-12 3.55

    Pitchers with 20 losses but an ERA+ above 100.
    yr. pitcher ERA+ W-L ERA
    1979 Phil Niekro 120 21-20 3.39
    1973 Wilbur Wood 116 24-20 3.46
    1973 Stan Bahnsen 113 18-21 3.57
    1977 Phil Niekro 111 16-20 4.03
    1977 Jerry Koosman 107 8-20 3.49

  65. @63
    Darn, a reverse sort of your list, JT, doesn't make Molina look very good. You know what team I bleed for, so maybe his presence on my team's roster makes my point about bad-offense catchers.

    However, Jose Molina, is having an anomalously good year with a line of 0.302/.372/.431 in limited playing time.

  66. @64
    Gosh, thanks for posting to BBRef.

    I'm not quite sure what your post is in response to Could you tell us?

  67. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    Y'know, even if we broaden Steve's query to include all seasons of 80+ games at catcher going back to 1901 (which pulls in the incomparable career of Bill Bergen), Fosse's 1975 is still fourth worst. (Bergen has the three worst, at –4 [!!] [1911], 1 [1909], and 6 [1910].) Putting a .140 batting average in the lineup — it's as if Fosse's team were reverting to pre-DH days.

    Leave us not forget how thoroughly Bergen dominates this category, though. He holds the three lowest OPS+ spots, four of the lowest five, eight of the lowest fifteen — and he played 80+ games at catcher in only eight seasons! He had one other season where he played 76 games at catcher, and if he had qualified in that season, his OPS+ would have tied for sixteenth worst.

    One of my new favorite trivia questions: How few games played at catcher do you have to go before you find an OPS+ season worse than Bill Bergen's 1911? Answer: 58, Tim Spehr, 1996 Expos (OPS+ of –9). And in exactly half of Spehr's games at catcher that season (29), he had zero plate appearances.

  68. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    One more thing (promise). I ran a search for lowest-OPS+ seasons by players with 100+ plate appearances who played at least half their games at catcher. Bill Bergen, 1911, is fifth lowest with his –4. What nonplusses me, though, is that the second- and fourth-lowest spots are held by Ben Egan (1915 Indians, –12) and Tom Egan (1974 Angels, –6), respectively. How strange that two different players with the same (relatively unusual) surname would appear at the very top of the same list for seasons 59 years apart!

  69. @49: I remember several of Bill James' rants and there were few better than on Sullivan. I think he may have even ranted on the spelling of his name by calling him "Marckie" or "Marcie"

    Speaking of ranting on spelling of backup catchers' names, anyone remember Bill James wondering if former Reds' catcher Billardello's nickname was Dannnny? (Now there's an inept hitting trio....mid-80s Red's catchers Dann Billardello, Steve Christmas and Dave Van Gorder.)