SportsNation Blog ArchivesSN Blog Archives Ivan Rodriguez

Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez is calling it a career. With a 1999 American League MVP award, 10 straight All-Star Games and a 2003 World Series ring to his name, the veteran catcher will surely go down as one of the greatest backstops to ever take to the diamond. But where does he rank alongside his peers? Click the photos below to set your rankings.

Baseball's greatest catchers

Johnny Bench

Johnny Bench

Reds
1967-83
.817 OPS
10 Gold Gloves

Yogi Berra

Yogi Berra

Yankees
1946-63
.830 OPS

Roy Campanella

Roy Campanella

Dodgers
1948-57
.860 OPS

Gary Carter

Gary Carter

Expos, Mets, Giants, Dodgers
1974-92
.773 OPS
3 Gold Gloves

Mickey Cochrane

Mickey Cochrane

Athletics, Tigers
1925-37
.897 OPS

Bill Dickey

Bill Dickey

Yankees
1928-43, 1946
.868 OPS

Carlton Fisk

Carlton Fisk

Red Sox, White Sox
1969, 1971-93
.797 OPS
1 Gold Glove

Joe Mauer

Joe Mauer

Twins
2004-present
.873 OPS
3 Gold Gloves

Mike Piazza

Mike Piazza

Dodgers, Marlins, Mets, Padres, A's
1992-2007
.922 OPS

Ivan Rodriguez

Ivan Rodriguez

Rangers, Tigers, Marlins, Yankees, Astros, Nationals
1991-2012
.798 OPS
13 Gold Gloves

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No-hitters are rare and nifty and come with great celebrations; we get all of that. But when you get down to it, they aren't as rare as hitters going 5 for 5 and driving in seven runs at the plate. In fact, as ESPN Research helpfully point out, Twins star Joe Mauer became the third catcher ever to do just that during Monday's 19-1 shellacking of the Royals.

This hasn't even been Mauer's best season to date (although jumping from a .295 batting average to a .305 average in one night -- especially a night halfway through the season -- will do a lot to disguise that), but with the possible exception of Brian McCann in Atlanta, he's still the biggest offensive threat at his position. And as Mauer closes in on completing his sixth full season with the Twins, it seems fair to start wondering about his place among the position's all-time greats.

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The All-Star Game isn't the only game in town. Forget voting for the best players of the first half of this season; we're looking for the best of 20 seasons of baseball on ESPN.

We asked you to help us narrow down the field for the best players and managers during 20 years of baseball on ESPN. The first round of voting is complete, and we've got the three finalists you selected at each position. Now it's time to pick the winners.

For this week's edition, three of the finest modern era catchers square off. The winner will be announced Aug. 2 on Sunday Night Baseball (Los Angeles at Atlanta, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN). Next Monday, you'll have a chance to vote on a first baseman to join the team. The final team will be announced Sept. 20 on Sunday Night Baseball.

Without further ado, the three catcher finalists you selected:


Mike Piazza

Mike Piazza: Arguably the best-hitting catcher of all time, Piazza is a 10-time Silver Slugger Award winner and 12-time All-Star selection. With 427 home runs under his belt, he holds the career record for most HRs hit by a catcher. Other notable achievements include his 1993 selection as NL Rookie of the Year and one as MVP in the 1996 All-Star Game.


Jorge Posada

Jorge Posada: This Yankees legend has won five Silver Slugger Awards and is the only Yankees catcher since Yogi Berra to hit 30 home runs in a season. He has won an incredible four World Series championships with the Yanks and has been selected for the All-Star team five times. Posada's best season perhaps came in 2003, when he drove in 101 runs and hit 30 home runs.


Ivan Rodriguez

Ivan Rodriguez: With 13 Golden Glove Awards to his name, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez ranks as one of the greatest defensive catchers ever to play the game. Other additions to his résumé include his seven Silver Slugger Awards and his 14-time All-Star selection. In 1999, I-Rod took home the AL Most Valuable Player Award, and he won his first World Series title in 2003.

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SportsNation is pretty definitive that a lot of players with big numbers won't be making induction speeches in Cooperstown. But as more and more names are crossed off the list due to performance-enhancing drugs, will the plaque-making industry go under entirely?

It appears fans tired of disappointment are turning to Ken Griffey Jr. as a beacon of legitimacy. Among the four active players who either have 500 career home runs or are within striking distance, Griffey is the only player with anything close to unanimous support for the Hall of Fame.

SportsNation's Hall of Fame Approval Ratings
Ken Griffey Jr.: 97 percent
Jim Thome: 64 percent
Gary Sheffield: 50 percent
Carlos Delgado: 50 percent (if he reaches 500 home runs)

And what about Ivan Rodriguez, who Wednesday night set a record for career games caught? A guy with double-digit totals in Gold Gloves and All-Star appearances, Pudge has the support of a healthy -- but far from unanimous -- 67 percent of SportsNation.

fmc132

if Pudge is the greatest catcher of all time I guess we have to say Bonds and Clemens are the gretest at their positions.

-- fmc132
LL316

Pudge is not only the greatest Pudge of all time, but the greatest catcher of all time as well. The fact that there are no substantial accusations, or even anecdotal evidence, linking him to steroids makes him all the more impressive. Congrats, Pudge Rodriguez, on a great achievement.

-- LL316

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Take Kobe Bryant out of the equation and the other four Lakers starters in Game 5 against the Orlando Magic had started a total of 2,054 regular-season games in their careers. So you start to see why Ivan Rodriguez tying Carlton Fisk's MLB record by catching game No. 2,226 is worth a pause this morning.

Pudge's tally equals roughly 20,000 innings of baseball. At a brisk pace, that's nealy 375,000 minutes -- otherwise known as 6,122 hours or 255 days. At Jonathan Papelbon's pace, it's about four years. That's a lot of squatting.

owhi

I was at the game tonight. I got goosebumps when Pudge hit that homerun and we gave him a standing ovation. It was a great moment. It was nice to get the win, and it was really nice to see Pudge do so well.

-- owhi
andrewhesstx

This is so great that Pudge gets to break the mark in front of his biggest fans...still the greatest catcher in team history and well deserving of the accolades...I can still remember when they called him up in '91.

-- andrewhesstx

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