10 Best Hitting Catchers of All-Time
In 2001, the Minnesota Twins drafted a local HS prospect #1 overall named Joe Mauer. It turned out to be a decision they never regretted. Mauer was offered a scholarship to play football at Florida State, but turned that down when the Twins came calling with millions of dollars. Mauer is a career .868 OPS hitter, an MVP and has already supplanted himself as a Minnesota Twins legend.
Mike Piazza was a 62nd round draft pick in 1988, and was only selected because then manager Tommy Lasorda was doing a family friend a favor. By 1993, Piazza was a star power bat in the middle of the Dodgers lineup. If this were a list of best fielding catchers, Piazza wouldn't even scrape the bottom of the list. But he was far and away the best hitting catcher in the 1990's.
It's a close race between Joe Mauer and Ivan Rodriguez for best overall catcher of all-time. Pudge, as he was so affectionately referred as, was one of the top hitters in Texas' potent lineup during the 1990's. He also had some great years with Detroit and Florida this century. Rodriguez was a career .296 hitter and blasted 311 homers.
Joe Torre was more than a great manager. He was a solid offensive catcher for many years in the 1960's and 1970's for the Braves and Cardinals. Torre batted .297 in his career and had a lifetime .817 OPS. He could hit for average and decent power and didn't strikeout much.
Brian Harper played for 7 teams during his solid 16-year big league career from 1979-1995. His best seasons were in Minnesota, where he played a key role in the Twins 1991 World Series title. Harper batted .295 during his career. Most of his hits came during his Minnesota Twins days from 1988-1993.
Jason Kendall was a decent fielding catcher, but his true strength was as a hitter for the Pittsburgh Pirates. From 1996-2004, Kendall was a consistent .300 hitter in Pittsburgh. He didn't possess much power, but made up for it with a high batting average and 15-20 stolen bases each season.
Javy Lopez' bat played a key role in the great Atlanta Braves teams of the 1990's. Lopez hit for power and a decent average. He twice drove in 100 runs and hit 43 home runs in 2003. Lopez' career concluded after the 2006 season. He finished with a lifetime .828 OPS and 260 home runs.
In 1995, the New York Yankees called up 3 prospects you may have heard about - Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada. This trio, along with Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill, Roger Clemens and many more led the Yankees to many legendary seasons. Posada was a quality defensive catcher and provided some power for the Yankees lineup.
The only people that don't hate A.J. Pierzynski are his teammates. A.J. thrives on making others mad. But the fact of the matter is he has been a solid hitter ever since 2001 with the Minnesota Twins. He is most known for his days with the Chicago White Sox from 2005-2012, including playing a key role on the White Sox 2005 World Series championship team.
Johnny Bench is one of the greatest overall catchers of all-time. He could hit for power, a decent average and got on base. And, as you probably know, he was incredible behind the dish. Offensively, Bench eclipsed the 2,000 hit mark from 1967 to 1983, all with the Cincinnati Reds.