Kaiser: The catchers in the Hall of Fame

From SABR member David Kaiser at Baseball Greatness on December 9, 2019:

The unfortunate selection of Ted Simmons to the Hall of Fame yesterday has led me to do something I have never done before, a thorough comparison, using my standard methodologies, of all the catchers in the Hall of Fame, as well as a few that are not.  I have decided to present the results.

I must begin with a point I made in Baseball Greatness:  there is far less variance in the ability of catchers than in the ability of players at any other position, and the greatest catchers in history have contributed much less to their teams’ success than the greatest infielders, outfielders, and pitchers.  My definition of a superstar season is 4 Wins Above Average (WAA), computed without position adjustments, and with Michael Humphreys’s DRA to measure fielding contribution.  For a first baseman or an outfielder to have an excellent chance of reaching the Hall, he needs 5 superstar seasons in his career.  Quite a few infielders and pitchers have at least that many, and most infielders or pitchers, I believe, have at least 3.  An all-time team based on the highest numbers of seasons of 4 WAA or more would include Ruth (17), Barry Bonds (17), and Speaker, Mays or Aaron (16 each) in the outfield; Gehrig (12) at first; Hornsby (11) at second; Wagner (10) at short; Mike Schmidt (11) at third; and  a pitching staff of Clemens (12), Lefty Grove (10), Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson (9), and Grover Cleveland Alexander (8).  The catcher, however, would be Johnny Bench, with 3 such seasons.

Read the full article here: http://www.baseballgreatness.com/2019/12/the-catchers-in-hall-of-fame.html

Originally published: December 10, 2019. Last Updated: December 10, 2019.