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Pure Backstops Who Can Stick

Posted by Steve Lombardi on March 31, 2010

A simple list via Baseball-Reference.com's Play Index Batting Season Finder -

From 1901 to 2009,
Played 80% of games at C,
Requiring OPS+ >=100
At least 1500 career games

I like to think of this as "Guys who caught a long time, who didn't really play anywhere else in the field, who were league average offensive performers or better."

Rk Player OPS+ G From To Age PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO HBP SB BA OBP SLG Pos
1 Mike Piazza 142 1912 1992 2007 23-38 7745 6911 1048 2127 344 8 427 1335 759 1113 30 17 .308 .377 .545 *2D/3
2 Bill Dickey 127 1789 1928 1946 21-39 7060 6300 930 1969 343 72 202 1209 678 289 31 36 .313 .382 .486 *2
3 Johnny Bench 126 2158 1967 1983 19-35 8669 7658 1091 2048 381 24 389 1376 891 1278 19 68 .267 .342 .476 *253/798
4 Gabby Hartnett 126 1990 1922 1941 21-40 7297 6432 867 1912 396 64 236 1179 703 697 35 28 .297 .370 .489 *2/3
5 Yogi Berra 125 2120 1946 1965 21-40 8364 7555 1175 2150 321 49 358 1430 704 414 52 30 .285 .348 .482 *279/35
6 Ernie Lombardi 125 1853 1931 1947 23-39 6349 5855 601 1792 277 27 190 990 430 262 46 8 .306 .358 .460 *2
7 Jorge Posada 124 1594 1995 2009 23-37 6312 5365 817 1488 342 9 243 964 838 1278 65 17 .277 .379 .480 *2/D3
8 Carlton Fisk 117 2499 1969 1993 21-45 9853 8756 1276 2356 421 47 376 1330 849 1386 143 128 .269 .341 .457 *2D/735
9 Gary Carter 115 2295 1974 1992 20-38 9019 7971 1025 2092 371 31 324 1225 848 997 68 39 .262 .335 .439 *29/375
10 Darrell Porter 113 1782 1971 1987 19-35 6570 5539 765 1369 237 48 188 826 905 1025 45 39 .247 .354 .409 *2D/3
11 Javy Lopez 112 1503 1992 2006 21-35 5793 5319 674 1527 267 19 260 864 357 969 66 8 .287 .337 .491 *2D/3
12 Bill Freehan 112 1774 1961 1976 19-34 6899 6073 706 1591 241 35 200 758 626 753 114 24 .262 .340 .412 *23/D79
13 Ivan Rodriguez 108 2388 1991 2009 19-37 9712 9070 1308 2711 547 50 305 1264 487 1380 56 125 .299 .336 .471 *2/D34
14 Lance Parrish 106 1988 1977 1995 21-39 7797 7067 856 1782 305 27 324 1070 612 1527 37 28 .252 .313 .440 *2D/397
15 Sherm Lollar 104 1752 1946 1963 21-38 6218 5351 623 1415 244 14 155 808 671 453 115 20 .264 .357 .402 *2/35
16 Terry Steinbach 101 1546 1986 1999 24-37 5896 5369 638 1453 273 21 162 745 418 938 48 23 .271 .326 .420 *2/3D597
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/31/2010.

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How many of the top nine here, who are not already in Cooperstown, will make it to the Hall of Fame someday? Piazza is a lock. Posada? Now, that's an interesting debate.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 at 9:41 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.

15 Responses to “Pure Backstops Who Can Stick”

  1. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I analyzed Posada a while back and decided if he can maintain his bat through 2011, he'll have a pretty good argument. Right now his career's probably still a little short, considering his deficiencies in almost all non-batting areas.

  2. Not to be too nit-picky, but I have Johnny Bench at catcher for only 79% of his career games (I checked because I remember him playing a lot of the time at 3b).

    I'd like to see the "1500 games played" requirement be changed to "1500 games played in the field, with at least 80% being at catcher," so that you don't lose a catching workshouse like Ted Simmons, who played catcher in 87% (1771 out of 2035) of his games in the field, but had another 297 games at DH, bringing his total pct down bwlow 80%.

  3. Re: Bench, never mind. I double-counted games in which he played multiple positions, so he did in fact play at catcher in 80.7% of the games in which he appeared.

  4. The question, in my mind, comes down to what people think about Carlton Fisk. Why is Fisk a Hall of Famer? Was it mostly because he was great in Boston? How big a factor was his longevity? If you compare Posada's 2000-2007 seasons with Fisk's Boston years, the sample size is very similar and while the results are close, they are almost certainly in Posada's favor. (I particularly like that Posada's OBP is very, very high for a catcher, and he still has good pop.) I think that if he is productive for another two or three seasons, it'll be a fairly open and shut case, but it wouldn't surprise me if the BBWAA said he'd already done enough.

  5. I'm curious as to how many catchers have met all of these requirements except for the 100 OPS+

  6. I'm surprised you'd say Piazza is a lock, but not Posada. Jorge played for the Yankees. New York players always get special consideration cause of the stupid "mystique" of the Yankees. Piazza should be a lock, but some writers probably think he did steroids.

  7. Jorge plays*

  8. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Who got elected due to Yankees mystique? Not Mattingly. Not Keller. Not Maris. Not Howard. Not Munson. Not Guidry.

  9. Rizzuto?

  10. The next couple of HoF elections are going to be very interesting. But, at this point it seems clear than no one can be considered a "lock" if they have been linked to steroids. And Piazza certainly has:

    "He's a guy who did it, and everybody knows it," says Reggie Jefferson, the longtime major league first baseman. "It's amazing how all these names, like Roger Clemens, are brought up, yet Mike Piazza goes untouched."

    "There was nothing more obvious than Mike on steroids," says another major league veteran who played against Piazza for years. "Everyone talked about it, everyone knew it. Guys on my team, guys on the Mets. A lot of us came up playing against Mike, so we knew what he looked like back in the day. Frankly, he sucked on the field. Just sucked. After his body changed, he was entirely different. 'Power from nowhere,' we called it."

    When asked, on a scale of 1 to 10, to grade the odds that Piazza had used performance enhancers, the player doesn't pause.

    "A 12," he says. "Maybe a 13."

  11. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Yeah, I figured Rizzuto would be the guy mentioned. Did he get elected because he was a Yankee? Who can say? Maybe he got elected because he remained in the public eye as a broadcaster, and had a loyal group of supporters pushing for his election for many years. Or maybe he got elected because if one considers that he lost three prime seasons to the war, suffered from malaria after returning home, and was an outstanding defender, there's more to his case than the numbers appear to show.

    Anyway, Rizzuto's election alone doesn't prove anything about how the electorate considers Yankees. I listed a bunch of players for whom cases could be made, but who haven't been elected. Are there a lot of Yankees in the HOF who don't belong? Combs? He's more a case of inflated '20s numbers, imo. How do people expect Bernie Williams to do? I doubt he'll get many votes, but there's certainly a HOF case that could be made for him too.

  12. I'd actually like some, you know, evidence before throwing Piazza out. The outrageously egotistical Reggie Jefferson and an opponent are not the best sources. Piazza was a home run hitter from day one (just look at his minor league stats), his numbers were never preposterous, and he fell off in his mid-30s before the big testing started. He also wasn't mentioned in the Mitchell Report, for what that's worth. None of that screams 'Roider!' to me, so until there's some evidence, I won't hold it against him. As it stands, he is - by far, I think - the best hitting catcher in major league history.

  13. I wasn't necessarily saying Piazza should be in or out. But, I'm guessing HoF voters will say "out". Personally, I think he should be in, along with Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, etc. Jeff Pearlman had some first hand accounts about Piazza's alleged steroid use that he included in "The Rocket That Fell To Earth". That is where those quotes came from. A reporter claims that Piazza actually admitted his steroid use to him. This isn't hard evidence, but usually where there's smoke, there's fire.

  14. Piazza has never been officially linked to steroids. I think the writers will give that far, far more weight.

    I don't want to derail this thread anymore, though, so I leave it at that.

  15. A simple statement, Johnny Twisto; Maris {whom you listed as not having reached the HOF} is in, primarily for his part of the "M-and-M" tandom {with Mantle, of course} as a YANKEE. Also; that "Yankee Magic" does add to a player's mystique; but that is primarily because {and as a Reds fan, this hurts me to admit} the Highlanders/Yankees have always been a well-managed and well-run organization.