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The All-Time MLB Team, Catcher: nominations and ballot

Here are the candidates after our dive into the catching pool

Portrait of Josh Gibson in Grays Uniform

It was quite fascinating to read the discussion. I just sat on the sidelines, since I am entirely aware of my almost total ignorance in regard to the history of baseball. So I’ve no problem deferring to the collective wisdom of the SnakePit, where there were five players who each received three or more recs.

Johnny Bench

AzCutter: “As time has passed since his playing days whose name is mentioned? Good ol’ number 5.” Chuck: “Bench is #1 or close to it both analytically and traditionally and changed the position more than any other. He was the first “athletic” catcher who moved around, revolutionized the one handed scoop of pitches in the dirt, as opposed to stationary blocking. Also consider Bench played the formidable part of his career in pitching dominated era as opposed to the other guys in the discussion who played in an era spiked by offense.” MrMrrbi: “Bench also played in an era, particularly the National League, in which great base stealers like Brock were abundant, and the running game was quite popular. Most thought twice before running on Johnny.”

Yogi Berra

kilnborn: “Because he needs to be on the ballet. If we’re gonna put Pudge and Carter on the ballot, Yogi definitely needs to be there. Plus, he’s the all time leader in career Yogisms Above Average (YAA) - Zack Greinke is a distant second. And the most incredible thing about that is that he continued to increase his YAA totals after he retired.” But Berra was not just a quote machine. He was an iron man: from 1950-56, he averaged 144 games per year - in a time with no DH, and a 154-game schedule. Over those seven seasons, Berra was worth 38.3 bWAR, more than Ted Williams in the same time. He also made 15 consecutive All-Star appearances and owns a record, unlikely ever to be broken, 10 World Series rings.

Gary Carter

Xerostomia: “I saw Gary Carter play a lot. Outstanding defensive catcher, and even better hitter. I thought he was robbed of the league MVP in 1982. Being obscured in Montreal for years probably did not help his recognition, but he became better known when he went to NY. I never saw Bench play, but Carter in his prime was a 7-8 WAR player for several years in a row.” Jack adds: “Carter definitely in this conversation. He’s second behind Bench in JAWS, but he actually pips Bench in WAR7 (7 best peak years) 48.4 to 47.2. At the very least, his peak years were pretty darn close to equal of bench, and perhaps even better going by WAR. Another point in Carter’s favor is that he stayed at catcher much longer.”

Josh Gibson

Jack Sommers: “Career 215 OPS+. 39 WAR in 2511 PA. 10 WAR per 650 PA. Led the Negro National League in WAR 10 times, in HR 11 times, in OPS 9 times, in RBI 7 times…. In short, he was the greatest player in Negro League History. And he was a catcher. Before he spent seven seasons in Major League Baseball, Hall of Fame outfielder Monte Irvin played nine years in the Negro Leagues. As an MLB star, Irvin played alongside Willie Mays and against Hank Aaron. In the Negro Leagues, he played against Gibson.”

”They were tremendous players,” Irvin was quoted as saying long ago about Aaron and Mays. “But they were no Josh Gibson.” He reiterated that thought to San Francisco Chronicle writer Ron Kroichick in a story in 2006. “Oh, yeah, Josh was better than those two.” Hall of Fame pitcher Walter Johnson described Gibson’s defensive style as so smooth that he “might as well be sitting in a rocking chair.”

Ivan Rodriguez

Justin27: “For me, it was Pudge. But I never saw Gary Carter or Bench. Lots of people say Bench was best, I can only look at numbers. I believe Stu said Bench was the best, but Shoe could correct me on that.” Both Pudge and Bench reached the majors while still teenagers, but Rodriguez lasted longer, becoming the only catcher to make 10,000 PA in the majors. He also won ten consecutive Gold Gloves, tied with Bench for most at the position, and an MLB record 13 in all. During his career, he had the best caught stealing percentage of any major league catcher, at 45.68% (versus a league average of 31%), and he had nine seasons with a caught stealing rate of 50% or higher

The poll is below. I’m optimistic I can skip the “SnakePit member” requirement for this post, and see where it takes us! But, of course, I resolve the right to declare the result null and void, in the event of suspicious shenanigans!


Who was the best catcher of all time?

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    Johnny Bench
    (54 votes)
  • 16%
    Yogi Berra
    (19 votes)
  • 3%
    Gary Carter
    (4 votes)
  • 26%
    Josh Gibson
    (31 votes)
  • 6%
    Ivan Rodriguez
    (7 votes)
115 votes total Vote Now