Who’s the GOAT? – Baseball’s Greatest, Volume 1

Posted: July 14, 2010 by The Cheap Seat Fan in MLB
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There have been generations of great players in Major League Baseball. Since the league’s official inception around 1869, there have been many different eras and changes to the game. It is difficult to place each great player against each other, but here is the CHEAP SEATS take on the greatest players, by position, the game has ever produced.

Based on an evaluation of both statistics and achievements across every era of Major League Baseball, I have evaluated the top performers at every position and placed their accomplishments into a scoring rubric to decide who the best is. There have been many different eras of the game and not all accolades have been available for all players to achieve. (Most notably, the All-Star Game didn’t begin until 1933, mid career for some players and completely afterwards for others.) This element and others have been weighted to provide as fair of an evaluation as possible across all eras of baseball. Also, presumptive achievement points have been provided as well to give fair credit to players that would have undoubtedly reach such levels as All-Star, if they were available. (Scoring Rubric is below)

**Catcher**

Catcher is one of the most diverse positions of any in sports. From behind the plate catchers are responsible for conducting the entire game, from call pitches to setting up the defense. There have been a variety different types of players that have manned the position, from heavy hitters to defensive leaders. It is the toughest position physically in baseball, due to the beating of squatting for nine innings, blocking of wild pitches and potential high impact contact with base runners.

Over the years, the position has changed from a primarily defense only one, into one that features some of the great hitters of all time. It is an evolving positon still, with 3 players below that have played with the last 10 years, one whom is still active. Also, there are two players in Roy Campanella and Thurman Munson whose careers were tragically ended early. 15 catchers have joined the Hall of Fame, with several awaiting entry now. From Mickey Cochrane to Joe Mauer, the position has a very diverse selection.

Yogi is unsurpassed as a champion in MLB history.

1. Yogi Berra: New York Yankees (1946-1965): 52 points

–          .285 Avg. 358 HR, 1430 RBI, .348 OBP, 2150 Hits, 1175 Runs, 33 SB

–          0 Gold Gloves, 10 World Series, 3 MVPs, 0 ROY, 0 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 0 Home Run, 15 All-Star Games

The great catalyst of the New York Yankees received MVP votes in 15 seasons and caught the only perfect game in postseason history. His 10 World Series wins and 14 appearances are an all-time record.

2. Johnny Bench: Cincinnati Reds (1967-1983): 50 points

–          .267 Avg. 389 HR, 1376 RBI, .342 OBP, 2048 Hits, 1091 Runs, 68 SB

–          10 Gold Gloves, 2 World Series, 2 MVPs, 1 ROY, 1 Batting Title, 0 Triple Crown, 1 Home Run Title, 14 All-Star Games

The catalyst of Cincinnati’s “Big Red Monster” teams of the 70’s. When he retired he had more home runs than any catcher ever and was named to the All-Time Gold Glove team by Rawlings.

3. Ivan Rodriguez: Texas Rangers (1991-Present): 49 points

–          .299 Avg. 306 HR, 1280 RBI, .336 OBP, 2751 Hits, 1321 Runs, 127 SB

–          13 Gold Gloves, 1 World Series, 1 MVP, 0 ROY, 0 Batting Title, 0 Triple Crown, 0 Home Run Title, 14 All-Star Games

Possess one of the most feared arms in Major League history and is considered by many as the greatest defensive catcher ever. He has caught more games than any player ever.

4. Mike Piazza: New York Mets/Los Angeles Dodgers (1992-2007): 42 points

–          .308 Avg. 427 HR, 1335 RBI, .377 OBP, 2127 Hits, 1048 Runs, 17 SB

–          0 Gold Gloves, 0 World Series, 0 MVP, 1 ROY, 0 Batting Title, 0 Triple Crown, 0 Home Run Titles, 12 All-Star Games

The greatest hitting catcher in the history of the game. He has more home runs than any catcher ever and hit .300 for nine consecutive years between 1993-2001.

Piazza's overall excellence at bat revolutionized the catcher position.

5. Bill Dickey: New York Yankees (1928-1946): 37 points

–          .313 Avg. 202 HR, 1209 RBI, .382 OBP, 1969 Hits, 903 Runs, 36 SB

–          0 Gold Gloves, 8 World Series, 0 MVP, 0 ROY, 0 Batting Title, 0 Triple Crown, 0 Home Run Title, 11 All-Star Games

Hit .300 10 times in his career and his .362 average in 1936 was the highest single season average by a catcher until Joe Mauer surpassed it in 2009.

6. Mickey Cochrane: Philadelphia A’s (1925-1937): 36.5 points

–          .320 Avg. 119 HR, 832 RBI, .419 OBP, 1652 Hits, 1041 Runs, 64 SB

–          0 Gold Gloves, 3 World Series, 2 MVPs, 0 ROY, 0 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crowns, 0 Home Run Titles, 5 All-Star Games (Presumptive 3 added)

Nickname of “Black Mike” showcased his competitive nature. He was the first catcher selected to the Hall of Fame in 1947. Career was ended early due to being struck in the head with a pitch.

7. Carlton Fisk: Chicago White Sox/Boston Red Sox (1969-1993): 36.5 points

–          .269 Avg. 376 HR, 1330 RBI, .341 OBP, 2356 Hits, 1276 Runs, 128 SB

–          1 Gold Gloves, 0 World Series, 0 MVPs, 1 ROY, 0 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crowns, 0 Home Run Titles, 11 All-Star Games

Played an outstanding 24 years at catcher. Famous for “waving fair” his home run in the 1975 World Series.

8. Joe Mauer: Minnesota Twins (2005-Present): 33 points

–          .326 Avg. 74 HR, 421 RBI, .407 OBP, 898 Hits, 445 Runs, 35 SB

–          2 Gold Gloves, 0 World Series, 1 MVP, 0 ROY, 3 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crowns, 0 Home Run Titles, 3 All-Star Games

At only 27 years old he has won three batting titles, a record for catchers. His .365 average in 2009 is an all-time record for the position.

In only 7 years Mauer has already had a historic career at the plate.

9. Thurman Munson: New York Yankees (1969-1979): 31.5

–          .292 Avg. 113 HR, 701 RBI, .346 OBP, 1558 Hits, 696 Runs, 48 SB

–          3 Gold Gloves, 2 World Series, 1 MVP, 1 ROY, 0 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 0 Home Run Titles, 7 All-Star Games

Before he was killed in aircraft accident at age 32, Munson had a .357 career postseason batting average. Also he was the first Yankee to win both the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards during his career.

10. Roy Campanella: Brooklyn Dodgers (1948-1957): 31.5 points

–          .276 Avg. 242 HR, 856 RBI, .369 OBP, 1161 Hits, 627 Runs, 25 SB

–          0 Gold Gloves, 1 World Series, 3 MVP, 0 ROY, 0 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crowns, 0 Home Run Titles, 8 All-Star Games

After beginning his career in the Negro Leagues, he became the second African-American player elected to the Hall of Fame. His career was ended early after being paralyzed in a car accident.

– Close runners up: Gary Carter, Ernie Lombardi, Ray Schalk

Batters Study Rubric

Batting Average– .350 & above (10 pts), .349 to .330 (9 pts), .329 to .320 (8pts), .319 to .310 (7 pts), .309 to .300 (6 pts), .299 to 290 (5 pts), .289 to .280 (4pts), .279 to 270 (3 pts), .269 & below (2 pts)

Home Runs– 600 & above (10 pts), 599 to 550 (9 pts), 549 to 500 (8 pts), 499 to 450 (7 pts), 449 to 400 (6 pts), 399 to 350 (5 pts), 349 to 300 (4 pts), 299 to 250 (3 pts), 249 & below (2 pts)

Runs Batted In– 1900 & above (10 pts), 1899 to 1800 (9 pts), 1799 to 1700 (8 pts), 1699 to 1600 (7 pts), 1599 to 1500 (6 pts), 1499 to 1350 (5 pts), 1349 to 1200 (4 pts), 1199 to 1050 (3 pts), 1040 & below (2 pts)

On Base Percentage– .470 & above (10 pts), .469 to .450 (9 pts), .449 to .430 (8 pts), .429 to .410 (7 pts), .409 to .390 (6 pts), .389 to .370 (5 pts), .369 to .340 (4 pts), .339 to .320 (3 pts), .319 & below (2 pts)

Hits– 4000 & above (10 pts), 3999 to 3600 (9 pts), 3599 to 3300 (8 pts), 3299 to 3000 (7 pts), 2999 to 2700 (6 pts), 2699 to 2400 (5 pts), 2399 to 2100 (4 pts), 2099 to 2070 (3 pts), 2069 & below (2 pts)

Runs– 2100 & above (10 pts), 2099 to 2000 (9 pts), 1999 to 1900 (8 pts), 1899 to 1800 (7 pts), 1799 to 1700 (6 pts), 1699 to 1600 (5 pts), 1599 to 1500 (4 pts), 1499 to 1400 (3 pts), 1399 & below (2 pts)

Stolen Bases– 1,000 & above (10 pts), 999 to 850 (9 pts), 849 to 700 (8 pts), 699 to 550 (7 pts), 549 to 450 (6 pts), 449 to 300 (5 pts), 299 to 150 (4 pts), 149 to 50 (3 pts), 49 & below (2 pts)

Accolades

Gold Glove Awards: .5 point

World Series Championships: .5 points

Most Valuable Player Awards: 2 points

Rookie of the Year Awards: 1 point

Batting Titles: 1 point

Triple Crowns: 3 points

Home Run Champion: 1 point

*All-Star Appearances: 1 point

*Presumptive All-Star points are given to a player whose careers either proceeded or largely was played before the All-Star Game began in 1933. Formulated as 60% x the total number of years played.

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Comments
  1. Samuel says:

    I can’t argue with the numbers on your scale at all. Yogi’s a great pick. As much as I’ve read about old time stats I’m surprised I didn’t know Johhny Bench had a career batting average in the .260’s .

  2. With no slight to Bench at all, as he was a tremendous overall player, he can’t touch Piazza has an overall hitter. In the end, Pudge or Mauer may have to be considered better as well.

  3. Gator says:

    No Josh Gibson?

  4. Very interesting article, thanks. Keep up the good work.

  5. Josh Gibson was undoubtedly a great of mythical proportions, but that’s the problem. His numbers are incalculable and it wouldn’t be fair for me to level him against guys that actually did play the MLB.

    So essentially, it’s an MLB study because I’m not counting numbers from other leagues because the majority did not play in them. (i.e. Ichiro’s Japanese numbers were not factored into his measure)

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