Baseball, with its rich tapestry of legends and lore, has seen its fair share of iconic figures, including some of the best catchers. Catchers hold a distinct place in the baseball world. Every game depends on them; they are the field’s unseen strategists. But what exactly distinguishes a great catcher, and how do they leave a lasting impression on the game? In this blog, we shall examine the nuances of this special position, identifying the best baseball catchers of all time. Read further to know how these extraordinary men went above the duty of “backstop” to become legends in their own right.
Top 10 Greatest Baseball Catchers Of All Times:
The duties of a catcher are numerous. They must collaborate well with all starting pitchers, calling a solid game for them so they can focus on striking out batters. From receiving and signaling pitches to preventing the baserunner from advancing, these best baseball catchers contribute offensively to their team’s victories. We have evaluated these catchers based on their WAR career*, postseason success and peak five-year dominance.
Note: *WAR gives a great look at how good a catcher is compared to the rest of the league during his era. WAR is calculated differently depending on location. We had used the Baseball-Reference version.
1. Yogi Berra
Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra, an American professional baseball catcher who later served as a manager and coach, was born on May 12, 1925, and passed away on September 22, 2015. He participated in 19 MLB seasons (1946–1963, 1965), spending all but one of them with the New York Yankees.
He won three AL MVP awards from 1950 to 1956 and placed in the top four in the other four seasons. During that period, he averaged 108 RBI, 27 home runs, and a.295 batting average. In 4,272 plate appearances during these seven years, Berra struck out just 166 times in his first six years in the major leagues.
- Berra played in 62 World Series games at bat between 1950 and 1961. 11 home runs and 36 RBI total for 303.
- During 1953–1966, Berra triple-slashed. 20 games, a slash line of 400.494.671, 16 RBI, and five home runs.
Berra participated in 14 World Series with the Yankees, winning 10 of them. Berra was chosen as an All-Star an incredible 18 times, demonstrating his unwavering excellence and position as one of the top catchers in the game. Yogi Berra was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972, solidifying his status as one of the sport’s all-time greats.
|Career Stats||.285 BA||.348 OBP||.482 SLG||358 HR||1430 RBI||59.4 WAR|
2. Johnny Bench
John Lee Bench, a retired professional baseball player from the United States, was born on December 7, 1947. He spent the entirety of his Major League Baseball career (1967–1983) with the Cincinnati Reds and earned himself the position of best baseball catcher of all time.
In 11 seasons, Bench hit at least 22 home runs, but those MVP years were when he really pounded the ball. In 1970, he batted 148 runs and had 45 home runs. In 1972, he had 40 home runs and 125 runs batted in. He was the major league leader in both categories in both of the seasons. Additionally, he led MLB with 129 RBI in 1974.
- In his career, Bench participated in 10 playoff series—four World Series and six NLCS. He hit 10 home runs in 45 playoff games overall.
- In the 1976 World Series, the Reds swept the New York Yankees, thanks to Bench .533 average and two home runs.
Without its anchor behind the plate, the Big Red Machine would not have ever existed. The first of his 13 consecutive years as an All-Star, Johnny Bench won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 1968. In 10 of those 13 years, he garnered votes for NL MVP, winning the honor in 1970 and 1972.
|Career Stats||.267 BA||.342 OBP||.476 SLG||389 HR||1376 RBI||75.2 WAR|
3. Ivan Rodriguez
Iván Rodrguez Torres, a former Major League Baseball catcher from Puerto Rico, was born on November 27, 1971, and goes by the moniker “Pudge” and “I-Rod”. He spent the majority of his career playing for the Texas Rangers.
From 1997 to 2001, he hit at least 20 home runs and batted at least 308 each of those five seasons, peaking in 1999 with 35 home runs, 113 RBI, and a .332 average that earned him the AL MVP award. He led the AL in caught-stealing percentage all five years, throwing out 193 of 345 attempted base stealers or 55.9% of them.
- In the postseason, neither the Texas Rangers nor the Detroit Tigers saw much of Rodriguez. He played baseball in 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2006 together. 209 with one home run, eight RBI, and a 21.5 per cent strikeout rate.
- The Florida Marlins won the 2003 World Series, which was largely due to his contribution to the team. Pudge had a .313 postseason average, three home runs, and 17 RBI. He was voted the MVP of the NLCS after doing most of his damage there (2 HR, 10 RBI). He recorded at least one hit in each of the year’s 17 postseason games.
“Pudge” hit at least 10 home runs and batted at least 273 from 1993 to 2007. He also had a great arm at the plate, throwing out 661 attempted base stealers during his career and 90 additional players who strayed too far from their bases. He was selected for 14 All-Star Games, garnered seven Silver Sluggers, and won 13 Gold Gloves due to his defence.
|Career Stats||.296 BA||.334 OBP||.464 SLG||311 HR||1332 RBI||68.7 WAR|
4. Mike Piazza
He was born on September 4, 1968 in Norristown, Pennsylvania and made his MLB debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1992. From 1992 until 2007, Michael Joseph Piazza, an American former professional baseball catcher, played 16 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB).
1993-97 were the peak years of Piazza’s career. He hit at least 32 home runs in each of his first 10 full seasons in the major leagues, except for the 1994 season, which was cut short by a strike. In 107 games in 1994, he continued to crush 24 moon shots.
To win the 1993 NL Rookie of the Year award, he batted 318 with 35 home runs and 112 RBI.
- He did bat in his first postseason game, and in the sixth inning, he homered. 227 in his first 11 games, 10 of which were losses, with one home run.
- He served as the New York Mets’ shining armour in 2000. In 12 of the 14 games, Piazza had at least one hit, including four home runs. In October of that year, he batted 302 and had an OPS of 1.045. Though he didn’t get a hit, Roger Clemens’ broken-bat foul ball in Game 2 of the World Series, which he blasted back to Piazza along the first base line, is his most illustrious at-bat.
From 1993 to 2001, Piazza batted at least .300 every season and placed in the top 14 in the NL MVP race each time. In 2016, Piazza was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, underscoring his place among the all-time greats.
|Career Stats||.308 BA||.377 OBP||.545 SLG||427 HR||1335 RBI||59.6 WAR|
5. Roy Campanella
“Campy” Roy Campanella was born on November 19, 1921, and passed away on June 26, 1993. Before joining the minor levels in 1946, this Philadelphia native spent nine years playing in the Mexican League and Negro League. He played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, for whom he made his Major League Baseball (MLB) debut in 1948, and proved himself the best baseball catcher of all time.
1951–1955, during the five years of his peak performances, he won the league MVP award at least three times. He averaged 27.5 home runs across his eight-year appearances in the All-Star Games, hitting at least 19 each year from 1949 to 1956.
Campanella’s career ended prematurely after just 10 years due to a car accident in January 1958.
- Campanella contributed to the Dodgers’ five trips in the World Series throughout the course of his eight-year run of excellence. Despite only one victory (1955), they consistently fought strong against the New York Yankees.
- With a career postseason batting average of .237 and a slugging percentage (.386) more than 100 points below his regular-season average, Campanella failed to hit higher than 273 in any of those series. In 32 games, he did have four home runs and three games with three hits.
Campanella was selected as an All-Star eight times, demonstrating his standing as one of the top catchers of his period and his dedication to perfection. Brooklyn Dodgers won the 1955 World Series thanks largely to Campanella, who contributed offensively and defensively.
|Career Stats||.276 BA||.360 OBP||.500 SLG||242 HR||856 RBI||34.1 WAR|
6. Mickey Cochrane
Gordon Stanley “Mickey” Cochrane was born on April 6, 1903, and made his MLB debut with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1925. In 1934, Cochrane was traded to the Detroit Tigers, where he continued to excel and led the Tigers’ World Series victory in 1935. He was lovingly referred to as “Black Mike”.
In 1928 and 1934, Mickey Cochrane won the AL Most Valuable Player award. He was statistically superior in the years between those prizes, which is weird. Cochrane’s WAR was 4.1 in 1928 and 4.0 in 1934, but from 1929 to 1933, he had WARs of 4.7, 5.5, 5.5, 5.6, and 6.3, respectively. He hit 72 of his 119 career home runs and batted.330 during that five years.
- Cochrane participated in five World Series during his career, taking home the trophy with Philadelphia in 1929 and 1930 and Detroit in 1935.
- He hit 400 in 1929 but only .221 overall in the following four years. In his 31 career games, Cochrane managed two home runs, one in each of the first two games of the 1930 World Series.
In recognition of his outstanding contributions to his team’s success, Cochrane received the AL MVP award twice, in 1928 and 1934. Cochrane’s career was marked by his ability to walk a lot and seldom ever strike out. His exceptional batting eye is still often talked about.
|Career Stats||.320 BA||.419 OBP||.478 SLG||119 HR||830 RBI||52.1 WAR|
7. Gary Carter
Gary Edmund Carter, born on April 8, 1954, and remembered with great reverence in the baseball world even after his passing on February 16, 2012, was one of the best baseball catchers ever. His 19-year Major League Baseball (MLB) career was primarily devoted to the Montreal Expos and New York Mets.
From 1980 to 1986, he received four NL MVP votes, placing him in the top six of the National League (NL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) voting. Carter was strong defensively and had a cannon behind the plate. In his career, he only caught 35% of base stealers, but he threw out 810 of them, more than every other catcher on this list combined.
- The success he had in the postseason nearly catapulted Carter into our top five. He only played in three October, but in 1981, he hit 15 for 35 (.429) with two home runs, and in 1986, he helped the New York Mets win the World Series with two home runs and nine RBI.
- In Game 4 in the series, Carter hit both of those potatoes, but his biggest at-bats occurred at other times during the postseason. First, in Game 5 of the NLCS, he had the game-winning single in the 12th inning. Later, in Game 6 of the World Series.
He finished second in voting for the 1975 National League Rookie of the Year. He had four seasons with at least 100 RBI and nine seasons with at least 20 home runs, including three in a row between 1984 and 1986. He participated in the Midsummer Classic for ten consecutive years, from 1979 to 1988, and was an All-Star as a rookie.
|Career Stats||.262 BA||.335 OBP||.439 SLG||324 HR||1225 RBI||70.1 WAR|
8. Bill Dickey
William Malcolm Dickey was a renowned American professional baseball catcher and manager who made his MLB debut with the Yankees in 1928 and spent most of his career with the team. Dickey’s legendary career spanned 19 seasons, all of which he played for the New York Yankees, helping the team in multiple World Series championship victories.
Dickey never received the MVP award, but from 1936 to 1939, he consistently placed in the top six. He batted at least.300, hit at least 22 home runs, and drove in at least 105 runs each season. He hit 100 home runs in the last 13 years combined and 102 during these four years. Those two were the only seasons of his career where he had more than 97 RBI.
- He played 38 games in his career, batting 255 with a 7.5% strikeout percentage. In his first World Series in 1932, he hit 438 (seven singles in 16 at-bats).
- Dickey’s final postseason(Game 5 of the 1943 World Series) resulted in a 2-0, series-clinching victory when he launched a two-run home run in the sixth inning.
In ten seasons, he batted at least 310. Only three seasons had a strikeout rate higher than 4.3, and his career strikeout rate was just 4.1 per cent. Dickey consistently produced on offence throughout his career. He produced a lot of RBIs, had several seasons with great hitting averages, and was a key player for the Yankees in many games.
|Career Stats||.313 BA||.382 OBP||.486 SLG||202 HR||1209 RBI||55.8 WAR|
9. Carlton Fisk
Former professional baseball player Carlton Ernest Fisk, sometimes known as “Pudge” and “the Commander,” had a lengthy career from 1969 to 1993. He played for two illustrious Major League Baseball teams, the Boston Red Sox (1969, 1971–1980) and the Chicago White Sox (1981–1993).
1974-78 were considered his best years. In two seasons, he reached the top in 1971, when he hit 313 in 49 plate appearances. In 19 seasons, he hit at least 10 home runs, and once, in 1985, he exploded for 37 home runs and 107 RBI. He was in the top seven in the AL MVP race when he took fourth in 1972 and third in 1983.
- Fisk was responsible for one of the most iconic World Series memories. Fisk blasted a walk-off home run in the 12th inning of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.
- Fisk made a bat 259 with six RBI and two home runs. He also had three strikeouts in the contest that followed his historic home shot, which the Red Sox lost 4-3.
He played for 24 seasons while squatting behind home plate until he was 45 years old. Fisk played at least 134 games in each season while hitting 18 home runs at ages 42 and 43. Carlton Fisk’s exceptional performance in 1972 earned him the AL Rookie of the Year award, which recognized him as the top rookie player in the American League.
|Career Stats||269 BA||.341 OBP||.457 SLG||376 HR||1330 RBI||68.5 WAR|
10. Buster Posey
Gerald Dempsey “Buster” Posey III, an American former professional baseball catcher, was born on March 27, 1987. From 2009 to the end of the 2021 season, he played his entire twelve-year Major League Baseball (MLB) career with the San Francisco Giants. His defensive skills, field leadership, and ability to handle the pitching staff effectively make him the best catcher of all time.
He saw extraordinary success from 2012 to 2016. He ended a four-decade catchers’ award drought in 2012 by taking home the NL MVP honours with a batting average of .336, 24 home runs, and 103 RBI. He routinely finished in the top 20 of the NL MVP voting over these five years while maintaining a good performance, averaging a.309 batting average, 19 home runs, and 88 RBI per year.
- In 145 plate appearances during the NLCS and World Series, he batted just 208 with two home runs.
- Posey was a key player in the San Francisco Giants’ championship runs in 2010, 2012, and 2014. His contributions were crucial to the team’s success during these “even-year” victories, even though he did not get MVP recognition in any postseason series.
Posey’s 2012 NL MVP victory was historic because it was the first time an NL catcher had won the award since Johnny Bench in 1972. Since the bicentennial, the only catchers in the AL to accomplish the same accomplishment were Ivan Rodriguez (1999) and Joe Mauer (2009).
|Career Stats||.308 BA||.376 OBP||.474 SLG||128 HR||594 RBI||38.3 WAR|
With this, we conclude our list of top 10 catchers in baseball history. It is clear that these exceptional people were more than simply great athletes; they were game-changers and iconic personalities in the development of baseball. Each catcher on this list exhibited attributes that made them the best MLB catchers ever. They will always have a special place in the Hall of Fame of baseball’s finest catchers. These players are still an inspiration to many, and their unmatched legacies will continue to influence future generations. Their contributions as a catcher serve as a testament to the enduring appeal of baseball.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Question1: Who is the greatest catcher in baseball history?
Piazza is the all-time best offensive catcher. He has 427 career home runs, which is 51 more than Fisk, and a. 308 career batting average, making him the greatest catcher in history.
Question 2: Which catcher caught the most perfect games?
Jason Varitek of the Boston Red Sox and Josh Thole of the Toronto Blue Jays each caught four perfect games to set the record for the most perfect games caught by a catcher.
Question 3: Who is the number one catcher in MLB?
Realmuto, J.T. is considered as the top defensive catcher in 2023. Three Silver Slugger trophies, two Gold Glove awards, and three All-Star selections have all been given to the 32-year-old. 23 fWAR have been produced by Realmuto throughout the last five years.
Question 4: What catcher caught 4 no-hitters?
Jason Varitek and Carlos Ruiz are the two catchers with the most no-hitter catches. Ruiz and former Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek share a Major League record by catching their fourth career no-hitter.
Question 5: Who is the only catcher to catch 4 no-hitters?
Jason Varitek is the only catcher in Major League Baseball history to catch four no-hitters. He witnessed the no-hitters thrown by Hideo Nomo on April 4, 2001, Derek Lowe on September 28, 2002, Clay Buchholz on September 1, 2007, and Jon Lester on May 19, 2008.