I'm interested in hearing where people agree or differ from my projections so feel free to comment. Just click on the player’s name to view their career stats. The most useful tools for comparing player stats can be found at MLB's sortable stats engine and CNNSI's all-time stats archive.
This is probably the easiest category to judge. The line between being a Hall of Fame catcher and not being a Hall of Fame catcher is very clear. If you're a catcher and you've dominated in any way over a period of ten or more years, then you're probably going to the Hall. My apologies to Vance Wilson. He has seemingly been in the lineup as much as Pudge as of late but Vance just misses the cut.
Ivan Rodriguez “Pudge” is everything you want in a catcher. He’s a very good hitter. He’s one of the best defensive catchers in MLB history (10 Gold Gloves). He’s anchored a pitching staff that won the World Series. He’s taken a Detroit Tiger franchise from one of the worst teams in MLB history into the realm of respectability. He plays when injured. If I had to pick one guy in baseball history to be my catcher, I think I’d pick Pudge.
Mike Piazza Five years ago, it was a 50/50 proposition that Piazza would end up being considered the best catcher ever. In 2000, Piazza’s career average was an unbelievable .328. Five years later, the only "best ever" that he's in the running for is "best athlete ever to be fraudently accused of being Mick from Teen Wolf." His overall production is nowhere near what he put up in the 90’s. However, 500 home runs is still within reach which would make Piazza the first catcher to reach that milestone. Piazza is one of the worst defensive catchers in baseball. He's thrown out 24% of base-runners for his career. In comparison, "Pudge" has thrown out 48%. He was so good before that his defensive shortcomings were justified by his offensive brilliance. However, now that he isn’t producing with the bat, his poor defense is magnified.
In barring injury: (0) "Pudge" and Piazza are likely the only two catchers that will make the HOF from this era.
Will just miss the cut: (2)
Jorge Posada The most impressive note about Posada won’t be found by looking at his career stats. He’s won three World Series with the Yankees and that number will probably go up. His defense is above average with his most notable assett being his ability to call games. Posada's thrown out 30% of baserunners which is in the middle of the pack for catchers. He’s a very good hitter compared to most catchers. If he started his career at an early age, he would be in great position to make the HOF. 27 is just too late to make a significant run at the Hall. Even still, Posada has consistently been a top 5 catcher over the last decade.
Javy Lopez Lopez showed his potential in 2003 when he had career numbers across the board. Everything seemed to "click" for Lopez following that season. He's a completely different hitter. Needless to say, if he produced that way over the span of his career, he would be a “lock”. The problem is that a few very good years in the twighlight of a career usually don’t overshadow a career of average/decent hitting. Lopez has a respectable batting average with .290. His OPS of .840 is very good for a catcher. Lopez and Posada are among the best catchers in baseball today. Unfortunately, that’s not enough for a ticket to Cooperstown.