Thursday, December 4, 2014

Friday Five: Durham Bulls Catchers

What better way to spend the offseason then to remember some of the past seasons......I based my list on the players performance as a Major Leaguer.

5.  Mike DiFelice

DiFelice played a total of 13 years in the Majors for primarily for the Cardinals, Rays, and Mets.  There were another half a dozen teams mixed in there too.  Mainly a backup catcher, DiFelice never played more than 100 games in the Majors, but ended his career with almost 2000 Major League plate appearances.  His best year in the Majors was probably for the Rays in 1999 when he hit .306/.346/.469 with 6 home runs and 11 doubles in almost 200 plate appearances.  Pretty good line coming off the bench.  DiFelice actually played for the Durham Bulls at the end of his career during the 2008 season.  It's a little bit backwards, but the Bulls had David Price, Grant Balfour, and Wade Davis all play for the team that season.  A little bit Crash Davis like........

4.  Toby Hall 

Hall was one of the first Devil Rays homegrown products to go all the way through the minors with the team and land in Tampa.  Toby Hall had some great seasons in Durham, especially his 2001 campaign when he posted a .225/.385/.568 with 19 home runs, 28 doubles, and 72 RBIs.  He only struck out 22 times that season in more than 400 at-bats.  The success that Hall had in Durham never quite translated to the Majors, but he was still a solid Major Leaguer.  He played 9 years in the Majors with the Devil Rays, Dodgers, and White Sox ending with a .262 average and 46 home runs.  

3.  John Jaso

Jason spent parts of four seasons with the Bulls before finally sticking full time in the Majors.  He still one of my favorites and I was a little sad to see the Rays trade him away to the Mariners.  Jaso eventually made his way to the A's where he has spent the last two years.  Not the best defender, Jaso has a reputation as a good on-base guy.  He will be back with the A's again next season most likely.  

2.  Bob Boone
Side note- Boone appeared in Durham in 1969.  The weird thing about him appearing on this list is that the team had actually been renamed as the Raleigh-Durham Phillies.  The disappearance of the Bulls first occurred in 1968 when they were a Mets minor league team and went by the Raleigh-Durham Mets.  After spending a year as the Phillies, the team appeared as the Raleigh-Durham Triangles for the 1970 and 1971 seasons.  Greg Luzinski was also a member of the 1969 team.  

Boone played 19 season in the Majors amassing a total of 1800 hits, 105 home runs, 4 All-Star Game appearances, and 7 Gold Gloves.  While he had some fine years a the plate, Boone was mainly known as a defensive whiz behind the plate.  In fact, his career defensive WAR is ten points higher than his WAR as a hitter.  His defensive WAR places him third all-time as a catcher behind Gary Carter and Ivan Rodriguez.  

1. Javy Lopez
Lopez came through Durham while they were a Braves minor league affiliate.  The catcher went on to be the primary catcher for three Hall of Fame pitchers (Maddux, Smoltz, and Glavine) during his 15 year career.  Jay Lopez also appeared in three All-Star games and won a Silver Slugger Award in 2003.  He ended his career as an Oriole, which was weird, but also compiled more than 1500 hits, 250 home runs, and fell just short of a .500 slugging percentage (.491).  Lopez played in 60 postseason games and won the 1996 National League Championship Series MVP when he hit .542 with 2 home runs against the Cardinals.  He won a World Series with the Braves in 1995 and appeared in the Fall Classic again in 1996.  JAWS rates Javy as the 31st best catcher all-time right behind Yadi Molina and a few spots ahead of Elston Howard.  

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