As the MLB postseason begins tonight, I thought it would be fun to pick a catcher from each team and have them face off against each other. Each series, or wild-card game, will feature two teams, and for each team I will pick the catcher that I believe had the greatest impact.
First, the rules for this face(mask) off:
1. For a player to be eligible, he must have played for the team a minimum of 3 years.
2. Only the stats and accomplishments of his tenure with that team will be looked at.
3. If the team has moved cities, previous locations will not be allowed. Players are only eligible that played at the current location.
As tonight’s game features the Kansas City Royals and Oakland A’s, I will begin with those two teams. This should be an interesting comparison, as these two teams have some similarities as far as history and market size. The Royals first season was 1969, and the A’s moved to Oakland in 1968, so the amount of players and data is virtually identical.
Kansas City Royals: This was a difficult decision, as there hasn’t been a lot of dominate catchers to play for the Royals. Jason Kendall did play there at the end of his career, but his skills were much diminished, and his time there was limited to only one year. The same can be said for Bob Boone, though in his two years in Kansas City he did earn his final Gold Glove. Really, the choice came down to only two players: Darrell Porter and Salvador Perez. This was a tough decision. As it stands, both players spent 4 years with the Royals, so the comparisons are very close, both in time spent and importance to the team. While I wanted Perez to represent the Royals (having a current player would be a nice outlier), Porter deserves to be the representative as the Royals best catcher. The main reason is that Perez is just in his fourth year, so his dominance has been limited to two years. This time next year, and the results would be different.
1978 Topps Darrell Porter, #19
Porter played for the Royals from ’77-’80, and in that time was named an All-Star three times: ’78-’80. He played in the 1980 World Series, though he had a terrible series. In ’77 and ’78 the Royals lost in the ALCS to the Yankees, but Porter played well in both series, batting .333 and .357 respectively. His best season with the Royals was in ’79, when he hit .291, with 20 HR and 112 RBI’s. He was never the face of the franchise and was far from the best player on the team, but his work during his tenure with the Royals has narrowly earned him the title of the best Royals catcher.
Oakland A’s: Before we begin, I must refer you back to rule #3. The translation of that rule means that only Oakland A’s catchers are eligible, sorry Mickey Cochrane. Once we narrow the search down those players who played from 1968 to the present, we are left with really only one contender, Terry Steinbach.
1989 Fleer Terry Steinbach, #22
For 11 season, Steinbach was the primary catcher of the Oakland A’s. In that time he played in three consecutive World Series, 1988-1990, winning in ’89. He was a 3x All-Star, winning the MVP of the All-Star game in 1988. On June 29, 1990, he caught Dave Stewart’s No-Hitter. His best season in Oakland was also his last; in ’96 he hit .272 with 35 HR’s and 100 RBI’s.
Placing these two against each other is more difficult, as Steinbach played for Oakland for much longer than Porter played in Kansas City. Now I could look at four specific years of Steinbach’s time with Oakland, but to be fair they would have to be consecutive years. But I don’t need to do that. Once I have the catcher from each team it comes down to a gut feeling, an eye test (though if it were just an eye test, Porter would win hands down, those are amazing glasses).
The winner of the first round of Face(mask) off: Oakland A’s, Terry Steinbach.
I am no soothsayer, but if there was ever a way to predict the winner of a playoff game, this is it. Oakland will win tonight.