The catcher is one of the most important positions in Baseball, though casual fans may find it absurd. It seems like catchers only have to stand behind the batter, but his role is more than that.
MLB is the most prestigious league of Baseball, where all the top-class players gather around. Being the best in position, therefore, is quite tough. One has to outstand all the other great players to reach the class of the “greatest.”
From Mickey Cochrane to Carlton Fisk to Salvador Perez, there have been many legendary catchers who showed their talent on the pitch. In different eras, we have seen different players dominating the game. Some of them are not forgotten with time.
Based on the performance, contribution, achievement, and statistics, we have listed the ten best MLB catchers of all time.
Best MLB Catchers of All Time
The primary role of a catcher is to catch all the pitches thrown by the pitchers. Besides, a catcher gives signals and instructions to the pitcher about throwing a pitch. Good communication between the catcher and a pitcher creates a better opportunity to retire a batsman.
To be a good catcher, one needs to have certain characteristics, including the following:
- Leadership and Good Understanding with the Pitchers
- Proper knowledge of the Game
- Being Good at Both Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication
- Mentality of Hardworking
- Quick Reaction
- The Ability to Accurate Throwing and Frame Pitches
As you can see, a player needs to have several traits to become a perfect catcher. Having all these traits is not easy, but there have been many players who were a great combination of all these qualities.
Based on the WAR, dominance, batting/slugging, and peak time, we have come up with the following list:
These players excelled in the position and were so good behind the batsman that and became the best MLB catchers of all time and helped many pitchers to become the best pitchers of all time.
1. Yogi Berra
|Full Name||Lawrence Peter Berra|
|Date of Birth||May 12, 1925|
|Place of Birth||St. Louis, MO, U.S|
|Debut||September 22, 1946 (New York Yankees)|
|Teams||New York Yankees, New York Mets|
|Last MLB Game||May 9, 1965 (New York Mets)|
|Hall of Fame||1972 (85.61% Votes)|
World Series Champion: 10 Times (1947, 1949–1953, 56, 58, 1961, 62)
All-Star: 18 Times (1948–1961², 1962²)
MVP: 3 Times (1951, 1954, 1955)
Yogi Berra had a long career of 20 years in the American League and dominated the game, especially in the early 50s. From 1951 to 1955, he won the MVP award three times.
Many believe that Berra was a lucky charm for the Yankees, as during his time, they won the World Series ten times. But the fact is that Berra had a great understanding with his pitchers and could hint to them cleverly where to pitch the ball.
In his twenty years of career, he missed the all-star appearance only twice. As a hitter, he was also much more dependable. He scored a total of 1175 runs, including 358 home runs.
Berra is also known for his wise sayings. His quotes are still used to motivate people. One of his famous sayings is, “Baseball is 90 percent mental.” Berra was an expert in playing the mind game on the pitch.
Career Stats of Yogi Berra:
2. Johnny Bench
|Full Name||John Lee Bench|
|Date of Birth||December 7, 1947|
|Place of Birth||Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.|
|Debut||August 28, 1967 (Cincinnati Reds)|
|Last MLB Game||September 29, 1983 (Cincinnati Reds)|
|Hall of Fame||1989 (96.42% Votes)|
World Series champion: 2 Times (1975, 1976)
All-Star: 14 Times (1968–1980, 1983)
MVP: 2 Times (1970, 1972)
Rookie of the Year: (1968)
Gold Glove Award: 10 times (1968–1977)
Home Run Leader: 2 Times (1970, 1972)
RBI Leader: 3 Times (1970, 1972, 1974)
Johnny Bench was a constant face in the all-star appearance during the 70s, as he had thirteen consecutive all-star appearances starting from 1968 to 1980.
The bench played his first pro match in the National League on August 28, 1968, and immediately made an impression. He was the Rookie of the year and made an all-star appearance in his first year. He sent a clear notion that he was going to rule the game.
The bench was named the most valuable player on two occasions, and he was one of the best catchers fans have witnessed in the MLB. He won 10 gold gloves in a row, a feat only a few players have achieved.
Johny was not only the best at catching, but he was also great as a batter. He scored over a thousand runs at a batting average of 0.267. The bench also contributes significantly to his team’s World Series victories.
Bench retired in 1983 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989 with an impressive 96.4% votes.
Career stats of Johnny Bench:
3. Mike Piazza
|Full Name||Michael Joseph Piazza|
|Date of Birth||September 4, 1968|
|Place of Birth||Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|Debut||September 1, 1992 (Los Angeles Dodgers)|
|Teams||Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida Marlins, New York Mets, Oakland Athletics, and San Diego Padres|
|Last MLB Game||September 30, 2007 (Oakland Athletics)|
|Hall of Fame||2016 ( 83.0% Vote)|
All-Star: 12 Times (1993–2002, 2004, 2005)
NL Rookie of the Year: (1993)
Silver Slugger: 10 Times (1993–2002)
In mid-1992, Piazza had his MLB debut, and soon enough, he became one of the league’s star players. Due to his excellent performance, he has announced the Rookie of the Year in 1993 and ensured his appearance in the all-star list.
Piazza was good at batting and catching. His performance in both positions was great, which helped him get twelve all-star appearances and ten silver slugger awards.
It is hard to claim which five years were his peak, as he was a consistent performer throughout his career. In his first ten years, he had at least hit 32 home runs in every season.
By the time Piazza declared his retirement in 2007, he had 427 home runs by his name. New York Mets retired no.31 to honor the legacy of Mike Piazza.
Career Stats of Mike Piazza:
4. Ivan Rodriguez
|Full Name||Iván Rodríguez Torres|
|Date of Birth||November 27, 1971|
|Place of Birth||Manatí, Puerto Rico|
|Debut||June 20, 1991 (Texas Rangers)|
|Teams||Texas Rangers, Florida Marlins, New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, and Washington Nationals|
|Last MLB Game||September 28, 2011 (Washington Nationals)|
|Hall of Fame||2017 (76.0% Votes)|
World Series Champion: 1 Time (2003)
All-Star: 14 Times (1992–2001, 2004–2007)
MVP: 1 Time (1999)
Gold Glove Award: 13 Times (1992–2001, 2004, 2006, 2007)
Silver Slugger: 7 Times (1994–1999, 2004)
Ivan Rodriguez had a great combination of offensive and defensive play. With the bat in hand, he hit more than three hundred home runs and stole 127 bases.
As a catcher, he was even better. His winning the Gold glove 13 times speaks for his greatness as a catcher. He also won the silver slugger seven times.
Rodriguez debuted in 1991 for the Texas Rangers. He showed great potential from the very beginning of his career. He won ten all-stars in a row from 1992 to 2001. Like Piazza, he was, too, a consistent performer. However, his peak five years was 1997-2001.
During his peak years, he would hit at least twenty homers every season and batted at least .308. In 1999, Rodriguez hit 35 home runs, 113 RBI, and a .332 average, which helped him win the American League MVP award.
Rodriguez did not have a good time in the postseason games, having hit only one home run in 4 appearances. However, his overall performance in the MLB has put him in the class of the best MLB catchers of all time.
Career Stats of Ivan Rodriguez:
5. Roy Campanella
|Full Name||Roy Campanella|
|Date of Birth||November 19, 1921|
|Place of Birth||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US|
|Debut||April 20, 1948 (Brooklyn Dodgers)|
|Retirement||September 29, 1957 ( Brooklyn Dodgers)|
|Last MLB Game||1969 (79.41% Votes)|
|Death||June 26, 1993|
World Series Champion: 1 Time (1955)
All-Star: 8 Times (1949–1956)
MVP: 3 Times (1951, 1953, 1955)
RBI Leader: 1 Time (1953)
In the long history of the MLB, there are only ten players who won the MVP award three or more times, and one of them is Roy Campanella.
After having his MLB debut in 1948, Campanella quickly climbed to the top. His peak years began in 1951, two years after joining the league. Between 1951 and 1955, he won three MVP awards and five all-stars, was one time RBI leader, and also helped the Dodgers win a World Series.
If there is anyone who comes closer to Mike Piazza in terms of slugging catcher, it is Roy Campanella. Many thought he would one day become the greatest catcher. However, he met with an automobile accident in 1958 that made him paralyzed.
The highly potential Campanella had to retire only after playing for ten years. Because of the abrupt ending, he has a WAR of only 41.6. Nonetheless, considering his impact and successes within a short time, he surely belongs to the best MLB catchers of all time category.
To acknowledge the greatness of Campanella, the Los Angeles Dodgers retired his jersey no.31.
Career Stats of Roy Campanella:
6. Gary Carter
|Full Name||Gary Edmund Carter|
|Date of Birth||April 8, 1954|
|Place of Birth||Culver City, California, U.S.|
|Debut||September 16, 1974 (Montreal Expos)|
|Teams||Montreal Expos, New York Mets, San Francisco Giants, and Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Positions||Catcher and Rightfielder|
|Retirement||September 27, 1992 (Montreal Expos)|
|Last MLB Game||2003 ( 78.02% votes)|
|Death||February 16, 2012|
World Series Champion: 1 Time (1986)
All-Star: 11 Times All-Star (1975, 1979–1988)
Gold Glove Award: 3 Times (1980–1982)
Silver Slugger: 5 Times (1981, 1982, 1984–1986)
RBI Leader: 1 Time (1984)
Though Carter has many awards in his accolades, considering his talent and how he performed, it is not enough. It’s unfortunate that he came so close yet did not win several awards in his career. He remained the second best, sadly.
He debuted in 1974 with the Montreal Expos and had an impressive year. When it came to announcing the Rookie of the year, Carter was runner-up. He was in the top six for the MVP award four times but never won the prize.
His 18-year-long career ended with 11 all-star appearances, three gold gloves, one RBI leader award, and five silver sluggers.
After his retirement in 1992, New York Mets inducted him into the Hall of Fame, while Montreal Expos retired his jersey no.8. In 2003, he was honored with the Baseball Hall of Fame induction with 78.02% votes.
Career Stats of Gary Carter:
7. Carlton Fisk
|Full Name||Carlton Ernest Fisk|
|Date of Birth||December 26, 1947|
|Place of Birth||Bellows Falls, Vermont, U.S.|
|Debut||September 18, 1969 (Boston Red Sox|
|Teams||Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox|
|Positions||June 22, 1993 (Chicago White Sox)|
|Last MLB Game||June 22, 1993 (Chicago White Sox)|
|Hall of Fame||2000 (79.6% votes)|
All-Star: 11 Times (1972–1974, 1976–1978, 1980–1982, 85, 1991)
Rookie of the Year: (1972)
Gold Glove Award: 1 Time (1972)
Silver Slugger: 3 Times (1981, 1985, 1988)
Fisk was not unfortunate like Campanella; rather, he was a silent killer. His presence might not make a significant effect, but his absence had. He was a constant performer who had perhaps never been extraordinary or never ordinary.
Fisk played in the MLB for two decades, which helped him gain a WAR of 68.5, more than Berra and Piazza. His longevity was his greatness. Fisk had a great kickstart at the beginning of his career. He was named the Rookie of the year in 1972. Since then, he has never reached his full potential.
Fisk had his debut in 1969, and he continued to play till 1993. What a long journey he had in the MLB! Being a decent performer for such a long time is a difficult task, though. Again, Fisk was not too ordinary to overlook. He had 11 all-star appearances. One of them came in 1991. Thus he made a record of being an all-star in three different decades.
Fisk finally retired in 1993, and in 2000 he received the Hall of Fame honor. Both Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox retired Fisk’s number in recognition of his contribution to the teams.
Career Stats of Carlton Fisk:
8. Mickey Cochrane
|Full Name||Gordon Stanley “Mickey” Cochrane|
|Date of Birth||April 6, 1903|
|Place of Birth||Bridgewater, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|Debut||April 14, 1925 (Philadelphia Athletics)|
|Teams||Philadelphia Athletics and Detroit Tigers|
|Last MLB Game||May 25, 1937 (Detroit Tigers)|
|Hall of Fame||1947 (79.5% Votes)|
|Death||June 28, 1962|
World Series Champion: 3 Times (1929, 1930, 1935)
All-Star:2 Time (1934, 1935)
MVP: 2 Times (1928, 1934)
The two-time American League MVP was a victim of the irony of fate. He received the MVP award in 1928 and 1934. However, none of them were his best performance. In 1928, he recorded 4.1 WAR and 4.0 in 1934. But he recorded above five on four occasions but did not win the award.
After debuting in 1925, he played for the Philadelphia Athletics till 1933 and helped the team win twice the World Series. After joining the Detroit Tigers, he helped Detroit win the World Series; he was an all-star in that season.
Cochrane was difficult to strike out. It was a tough challenge for the pitchers; he scored over a thousand runs with the bat and recorded a .320 career batting average.
Cochrane competed in the World Series five times and won it three times. He played his last game on May 25, 1937. Ten years later, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The legend died in 1962, leaving behind an inspirational career.
Career Stats of Mickey Cochrane:
9. Buster Posey
|Full Name||Gerald Dempsey “Buster” Posey III|
|Date of Birth||March 27, 1987|
|Place of Birth||Leesburg, Georgia, U.S.|
|Debut||September 11, 2009 (Francisco Giants)|
|Positions||Catcher and First Baseman|
|Last MLB Game||Right|
|Retirement||October 3, 2021 (San Francisco Giants)|
World Series Champion: 3 Times (2010, 2012, 2014)
All-Star: 7 Times (2012, 2013, 2015–2018, 2021)
MVP: 1 Time (2012)
NL Rookie of the Year: (2010)
Gold Glove Award: 1 Time (2016)
Silver Slugger: 5 Times (2012, 14, 15, 17, 2021)
After Bench’s winning of the MVP award in 1972, no other catcher could not win the prize in the National League for another four decades. The curse was finally broken in 2012 when Posey was named the MVP.
For years, the award was being bagged by the pitchers or the hitters. So, Posey did something that hardly catchers do. He was a phenomenon with the bat and became the NL batting leader in 2012, which helped me win the award.
Posey showed high potency at the very beginning of his MLB career, and he was named the 2010 Rookie of the Year.
With an MVP award-winning performance, his peak years began. He won three sluggers in 2016, the gold glove award in 2016, and two of his three World Series.
Posey retired from the game in 2021 and surely will be a Baseball Hall of Famer soon.
Career Stats of Buster Posey:
10. Bill Dickey
|Full Name||William Malcolm Dickey|
|Date of Birth||June 6, 1907|
|Place of Birth||Bastrop, Louisiana, U.S.|
|Debut||August 15, 1928 (New York Yankees)|
|Teams||New York Yankees|
|Last MLB Game||September 8, 1946 (New York Yankees)|
|Hall of Fame||1954 ( 80.16% Votes)|
|Death||November 12, 1993|
World Series Champion: 7 Times (1932, 1936–1939, 1941, 1943)
All-Star: 11 Times (1933, 1934, 1936–1943, 1946)
New York Yankees signed Bill Dickey in 1928 as a catcher, and he remained an integral part of the team till his retirement in 1946.
The seven times World Series champion had never been an MVP in his career, though he was voted among the top six on four occasions from 1936 to 1939. During his peak years, he batted at least .300 and hit 20+ homers at least.
Dickey was a left-hand batter and right-hand thrower. Like Campanella, he was also primarily a good performer but never reached the top position in the league. He hit a total of 202 home runs in his career, along with 930 runs and 1209 RBI, with a career-best 97 RBI.
Dickey retired in 1946 and was announced a Hall of Famer in 1954 with 80.16% votes. The Yankees retired no.8 to acknowledge their long-time catcher.
Career Stats of Bill Dickey:
Catchers contribute both with their defense and offense; therefore, being a great catcher is difficult. The players mentioned above were great in both positions. They were assets for their teams and made several records that earned them the best MLB catchers of all time reputation.
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