Friday, September 28, 2007

Pudge Rodriguez: Elite Offensive Catcher

I apologize for straying slightly from the Sox for a moment, but while listening to WEEI's Big Show today one of the baseball "experts" said the following thing, when discussing how bad Jason Varitek is at the plate (paraphrased):
"There are only four elite offensive catchers in the league right now: Victor Martinez, Posada, Russell Martin, and Pudge Rodriguez."
I'm not sure which of their "experts" this was. It wasn't Sean McAdam, who is quite good, but that's all I can tell you. What I do know is that Pudge Rodriguez is not an elite offensive catcher and hasn't been for a few years. I don't argue with any of those other choices.

How bad is Pudge? He hasn't broken .300 OBP in 2 of the last 3 years. That's scary bad from a guy making nearly $11 million this season. Imagine if Varitek's OBP were below .300, heretofore known as The Pudge Line, for no reason other than I wanted a catchy name for it.

To compare, Varitek's OBP has been .366 or higher in 3 of the past 4 seasons. This season's OBP is 4th among regular AL catchers and his .783 OPS is 3rd. His career OBP is .350 and he sports 5 seasons with an OPS above .810.

So does Pudge have power? Not considerable power. His SLG is a respectable but not great .419, for an OPS of .711. Gag. He has a 1:10.5 BB:K ratio. Wow. Sure, he's a Hall of Famer, but his career OBP is .340(!). And the persistent rumors in the '90s from Rangers pitchers that he would always call fastballs when there were men on first so he could keep his caught stealing rates high, at the expense of the game and the pitcher's ERA.

Elite offensive catcher, my ass.

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