Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.
St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina through games of June 20 leads the majors with a .366 batting average. This mark is 81 points above Molina’s career batting average of .285 and 51 points above his best season when he hit .315 last year. This 2013 MLB season is a little short of being half complete, but Molina could be approaching some historic numbers if he keeps up this pace.
If Molina finishes the season above .350, he would become the ninth catcher in major league history to have a batting average of .350 or higher for a season. But what’s even more interesting is what Molina could accomplish if he can raise his average a few points and end the season at .368 or above: If he finishes at .368 or above, he would have the highest batting average for a catcher in a season in baseball history. (Note: This is based on the player playing 50% or more of his games as a catcher and having enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title.)
Here’s a look at the catchers who have had the highest single season batting averages in baseball history.
Batting Average, Catcher, Team, Year
.367 Babe Phelps, Brooklyn, 1936
.365 Joe Mauer, Minnesota, 2009
.362 Mike Piazza, Los Angeles, 1997
.362 Bill Dickey, N.Y. Yankees, 1936
.358 Chief Meyers, N.Y Giants, 1912
.357 Mickey Cochrane, Philadelphia A’s, 1930
.354 Gabby Hartnett, Chicago Cubs, 1937
.353 Bubbles Hargrave, Cincinnati, 1926
Let’s widen the parameters a bit. If we drop the batting average down to .320 or better, Molina would become the 38th catcher to finish the season with a batting average over .320 if he can keep that mark. A catcher batting .320 or above in a season has happened 77 times in baseball history by 37 different players. Mickey Cochrane had the most seasons with a .320 or above batting average with seven. He is followed by Bill Dickey with six, Ernie Lombardi, Joe Mauer and Mike Piazza with five each, and Spud Davis, Gabby Hartnett, Jason Kendall and Ivan Rodriguez with three each.
Since 2000, there have been 11 times when a catcher finished the season with a batting average of .320 or above. So far this season, we have three catchers above .320: Molina, Mauer and Buster Posey.
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Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published multiple times weekly focusing on stats that go beyond the numbers.
Rodriguez also retires ranking number one in several categories among catchers including: games caught (2,427), runs (1,354) and hits (2,844).
Here’s a few more stats that you might not know about “Pudge.”
1. Rodriguez threw out 45.7% of the runners attempting to steal. This ranks 39th in MLB history. Pudge himself stole 127 bases in his career in 191 attempts, a success rate of 66.5%. He stole 25 bases in 1999. With his 25 steals and 35 home runs that season, Rodriguez became the first catcher in history to have more than 20 HRs and 20 stolen bases in a season.
2. As mentioned above, Pudge caught a record 2,427 games. He did, however, start seven games as a first baseman for the Detroit Tigers in 2006. He committed one error in 63 chances. He also played two innings at second base that same year.
3. He wore number 7 for most of his career. Baseball-Reference.com lists Rodriguez wearing number 12 in 2008 with the Yankees and in 2009 with the Astros. It also shows Pudge wearing number 77 in 2009 with Houston.
4. Rodriguez caught two no-hitters: Kenny Rogers’ perfect game on July 28, 1994 with the Rangers, and Justin Verlander’s no-hitter with the Tigers on June 12, 2007.
5. Pudge is one of only ten catchers to have been voted a league MVP. He won the 1999 A.L. MVP. The other MVP catchers: Mickey Cochrane, Gabby Hartnett, Ernie Lombardi, Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Elston Howard, Johnny Bench, Thurman Munson and Joe Mauer.
6. He played in 14 all-star games, starting in 12 games as A.L. catcher, a record. The A.L. won nine and lost three in the games Pudge started behind the plate. He batted .306 in his All-Star Game career.
7. Rodriguez had a .296 career batting average. In games won by his team, he hit .329; in games lost by his team, he batted .261.
8. Of his 311 career home runs, he hit the most against the Minnesota Twins, 29. He hit eight off Twins pitcher Brad Radke, most against any one pitcher.
9. Pudge is one of only seven catchers to win a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger in the same season; he won both of them in the same year seven times. The others to win both in the same season: Joe Mauer, Jason Veritek, Russell Martin, Benito Santiago, Lance Parrish and Gary Carter. Mauer won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger the same year three times, most of the other catchers on the list.
10. He had 100 or more hits in 19 of his 21 seasons.
11. The only offensive statistical category he led the league in during his career was in 1999 when he led the American League by grounding into 31 double plays.
12. Pudge had 2,844 career hits, but he never had 200 or more hits in a season. He did, however, have 199 hits in 1999. He collected #199 in his next to last game. In his last game of the ’99 season, he went 0-for-4. In fact, he grounded out to second in his last at-bat to end the game.
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