Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez the best catcher ever?

On Wednesday night, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez caught his 2,227th career game to surpass Carlton Fisk record for most games played by a catcher. I was surprised this didn’t get more attention. I would put this milestone up there with Cal Ripken Jr. consecutive games played record. It takes a really good durable player to play for 18 years as a catcher, especially with many of those years in the Texas heat.

Ivan Rodriguez got the nick name “Pudge” because he used to be pudgy. A few years ago, he started to loose his pudginess. Rodriguez is not a great offensive player. If he was, he wouldn’t be a catcher. He would have been moved to another position. Look at Victor Martinez or the talk about moving Joe Mauer. That is because playing catcher does take a toll on the body and slow you down at the plate. Ivan Rodriguez production would not have been that good for a first basemen or outfielder, but for a catcher it is. That is because usually you don’t get that production out of a catcher.

So is Ivan Rodriguez the best catcher ever? I would argue that he is. Rodriguez is one of the best hitting catchers of all time. He isn’t the best, but among the top 20 best offensive catchers. He has 2,650 career hits, 301 homeruns, seven silver slugger awards, and won the 1999 AL MVP. He also was the 2003 NLCS MVP. He is a 14 time All-Star and started 12 of them. He has won 13 gold glove awards which is most for a catcher. Thus, Ivan Rodriguez could be the best all around catcher ever.


Sexy Rexy said...

When I think of greatest catchers of all time, five catchers come to mind that are debatable: Carlton Fisk (also called Pudge), Ivan Rodriguez, Mike Piazza, Johnny Bench, and Yogi Berra. The obvious measure to determine offense is obviously wOBA (which is essentially OPS but weights OBP more than SLG because OBP is way more important that SLG). Now for catchers, I think the best indicator for defense if CS%. Because really, the only two things C can control are passed balls (which are not objective because an umpire may call PB, WP), and how many base runners are allowed to steal.

Johnny Bench: .361 wOBA, 43% CS%
Yogi Berra: .370 wOBA, 49% CS%
Mike Piazza: .389 wOBA, 23% CS%
Carlton Fisk: .354 wOBA, 34% CS%
Pudge Rodriguez: .349 wOBA, 47%

So is Ivan Rodriguez the best catcher ever? I'd say that goes to Yogi Berra. But I think debatable who's second. Pudge has the better defense but Bench has the better offense. Mike Piazza is by far the best offensive catcher but also has the worst defense. To be honest, to determine who's the best catcher ever, or even what order the top five in is all in the mind of the debater. But is Ivan Rodriguez one of the best ever and deserve to be in the HOF? Absolutely.

The 'Bright' One said...

Bench is the best. Berra won like 10 WS. Piazza best hitter but really should have played first base. Fisk had an awesome career and is top 3. Pudge would be 2nd best ever if not for the roids.

Cubsfan4evr said...

It is really hard to determine the best catcher because you have to look at the all around game of defense and offense because not like the other position's it is very physical demanding. For defense you have to look at errors, passed balls, and throwing out base runners.

Berra did win a lot of WS, and Mike Piazza is the best hitter, but I think the best overall player looking at hitting and defense is Ivan Rodriguez.

David "MVP" Eckstein said...

as you all know, i know very little of baseball pre-2000 outside of the cubs and white sox, but Pudge is just a beast. Roids or not, his numbers make him top 5 all time because, if nothing more, he had one of the most powerful arms in baseball. No one dare run on him in his prime (or even much nowadays). Eat your heart out, Yadier Molina