In a sense, catchers can be compared to quarterbacks. The position of catcher comes with great responsibility as they are the only ones who can see the whole defense at one time as the pitch is thrown, as well as any offensive players who may be on base. The relationship between pitcher and catcher is of utmost importance. The catcher needs to know what each batter is capable of, his likes and dislikes; and also needs to what pitch is best to retire the batter, and what the pitcher’s best choice of pitches in thousands of different situations. It’s no wonder that catchers go on to be great managers. Think Joe Torre.
In a previous post, after questioning why catchers are always judged by their offensive stats before their defensive stats, I speculated on Jason Varitek’s chances of entering the Hall of Fame some day. ‘Guest’ replied with this comment:
sorry but i completely disagre, Tek is not a HOFer. you say other stats besides batting avg (which DOES matter to some extent and he's never hit .300) but what else is there?... yes he's caught 4 no-hitters which is awesome but thats like saying DoN Larsen should be in the HoF just for his perfect game. Its one accomplishment. Teks meant a lot to the Red Sox organization and we appreciate everything he does on AND off the field, but you cannot make a case that he belongs in the hall of fame. no way, no how.
That comment prompted me into comparing Varitek’s numbers, both offensive and defensive, against 8 other catchers who are in the Hall of Fame.
I never said Batting Average does not matter. I said , “I hope that those voting come the time that ‘Tek is knocking on that vaulted door, that they will consider all of his stats equally, and not just his batting average.” Only 2 of them, Cochrane and Dickey, had lifetime batting averages over .300, while Bench, Carter and Fisk were all in the .260’s. I also consider catching 4 no-hitters 4 separate events, not 1 as the commenter did. I would think it is more comparable to a pitcher throwing 4 no-hitters in his entire career.
I took a look at the offensive and defensive lifetime season statistics of HoF catchers Bench, Berra, Campanella, Carter, Cochrane, Dickey, Fisk, Hartnett and compared them to those of Varitek. While his averages could fluctuate up or down (BA, OBP, SLG, OPS and FLD, etc.), his quantifiable stats (games, at bats, hits, runs, doubles, home runs, total chances, put outs, etc.) can only go up. Most of the catchers in the HoF have 17-24 years of MLB action, while 2 of them have fewer years than the 14 of ‘Teks.
Click on the table to make larger
Jason Varitek’s offensive numbers to date compare favorably to the lowest of the 8 HoF’ers, while his defensive numbers place him in the top 3 in 6 of 10 categories.
I know these numbers can be inspected, detected, infected, neglected, selected, bisected, and dissected in 11teen bazillion different ways, but I will leave that to the Jamesian statisticians and simply say, he’s got a shot. Check his numbers when·his career finally does come to an end, factor in his game calling skills and that 'C' on his jersey, then he has an even bigger shot. Carlton Fisk played in 2499 games in 24 seasons, and only 273 were not in the catcher position. ‘Tek won’t play another 10 years, but he’s got a lot of game left in him before he hangs up his cleats.
Note~ I started this post before it was announced that Victor Martinez was signed to a contract with the Detroit Tigers. This suggests to me, that the Red Sox FO may be looking at Varitek mentoring or even possibly platooning with Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Salty is chomping at the bit, Varitek isn’t ready to call it quits, and Salty is really looking forward to the possibility of working with ‘Tek.