Jaffe: On the retirement of Ivan Rodriguez

From SABR member Jay Jaffe at Baseball Prospectus on April 20, 2012:

Ivan Rodriguez is scheduled to announce his retirement on Monday, closing the curtain on a 21-year career in which he set standards for all-around play and longevity among catchers. Rodriguez played just 44 games with the Nationals last year, and while his name surfaced as a potential stopgap for the Royals when Salvador Perez went down with a knee injury in mid-March, the 40-year-old backstop apparently did not receive a formal offer from the club. No matter, his career is as complete as a Cooperstown résumé need be without crouching around waiting for Jonathan Sanchez to find the strike zone.

The Puerto Rico-born Rodriguez signed with the Rangers in 1988, four months before his 17th birthday, and one year before Puerto Ricans became subject to inclusion in the amateur draft (props to Kevin Goldstein, because the New York Times dated the inclusion to 1990). Already nicknamed “Pudge” at a time when the original Pudge, Carlton Fisk, was still active, Rodriguez reached the majors on June 20, 1991, at the tender age of 19, marrying on the morning of his promotion.

While his performance with the bat in his first year was nothing to write home about (.264/.276/.354 with three homers in 288 plate appearances), he threw out 49 percent of would-be base thieves, making enough of an impression to rank fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting behind the Twins’ Chuck Knoblauch, the Blue Jays’ Juan Guzman, and the Tigers’ Milt Culyer. Even then, he was regarded as something special. Bill James rated him fifth among AL catchers in The Baseball Book 1992 behind Mickey Tettleton, Brian Harper, Fisk/Ron Karkovice (James included other duos as well), and Terry Steinbach.

Read the full article here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=16541

Originally published: April 20, 2012. Last Updated: April 20, 2012.