Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday Five: Top 5 Cardinals Catchers

5. Tom Pagnozzi

I could have gone with Mike Matheny here too, but Pagnozzi had a higher defensive WAR then Matheny for his career and was not an automatic out at times.  Pagnozzi did not win as many Gold Gloves as Matheny, but Pagnozzi also had the disadvantage of playing for some of the worst Cardinals teams during the 30 years.  His rookie season he was the backup for Tony Pena on a National League Championship team.  His final season as a full time player the Cardinals went back to the National League Championship and lost to the Braves in seven games.  I think a good team Pagnozzi would have been appreciated more.  His dWAR of 3.0 in 1991 is higher than any anything posted by Yadier Molina in his career to this point.

4.  Walker Cooper 

Cooper was an important cog on the 1940s Cardinals teams.  His career basically ran the same length of time as Stan Musial with his career starting in 1940 and ending in 1957.  Musial first appeared in 1941 and played until 1963.  However, both players became full time starters in 1942 and the team went to the World Series and took home the crown.  Cooper was also a member of the 1943 National League Championship team and the 1944 World Series winner.  He made 3 All-Star teams and finished in the top ten voting for the National League MVP twice during a three year span from 1942-1944.  Cooper was sold to the Giants, where he had some fabulous years, then ended up drifting around the league before retiring as a Cardinals in 1957.

3.  Tim McCarver

We are not here to talk about McCarver the announcer.  McCarver, the catcher for the Cardinals, was an important cog on a lot of good teams.  Much like Walker Cooper, McCarver was not the best player on the 1960s Cardinals, but he had some good seasons for the club in 1964, 1967, and 1968 in helping the team to two World Series titles and a National League pennant.  McCarver made two All-Star games and somehow managed to lead the National League in triples, with 13, in 1966.  The 1967 season was probably his best when he posted a .295/.369/.452 line with 14 home runs and 69 RBIs.

2. Yadier Molina

Molina still has the potential to be first on this list in the long run, but for now he is second.  I also think of Molina having a career which very much parallels Ozzie Smith.  Molina first came up to the Cardinals in 2004 and was an all glove, no bat player.  Tony LaRussa considered any offense that Yadi provided strictly as a bonus as long as he was in the game defensively.  It was a little painful at times to see the Cardinals have Molina and a pitcher hitting at the bottom of the lineup, but he has really improved his offense.  In 2012 Molina posted a .315/.373/.501 line with 22 home runs and 76 RBIs.  Not sure what Molina has left in the tank, but a few more seasons of above average defense, and decent offense should put him in the Hall of Fame conversation.  He has 7 Gold Gloves, 2 World Series rings, 2 National League pennants, 6 All-Star Game selections, and a Silver Slugger.

1.  Ted Simmons 

Simmons is the best catcher in the history of the team.  He was a different player than Molina, but Simmons is in a different class.  Molina is working towards being a Hall of Famer, Simmons should be a Hall of Famer.  JAWS has Simba rated as the tenth best catcher of all-time.  He is 10th all-time in home runs by a catcher, 2nd all-time in RBIs, and second in hits.  When he retired he was the all-time hits leader for catchers.    The players in front of him in the JAWS ratings, minus Joe Mauer, are all in the Hall and there are seven catchers behind him in the rankings.  Simmons is just short of 2,500 hits and 250 home runs.  He never won a Gold Glove, but made 8 All-Star teams and won a Silver Slugger with the Brewers.  

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