Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez officially announced his retirement last week from Major League Baseball. Rodriquez spent 21 years in the bigs, including extensive stints with the Texas Rangers and the Detroit Tigers, will retire as one of, if not the, best catcher of all-time. He’s offensive skills have diminished over his last few years in the league, but his abilities behind the plate will always overshadow anything that he was able to do with the bat. Pudge holds the MLB record for the most career appearances behind the dish at 2,427, and that record should stand for years to come.
What separated Pudge from all other catchers was his arm. He had a cannon from behind the plate and had an uncanny ability to throw behind and pick off runners at 1st base. Pudge would catch runners off guard by picking them off from his knees and this tactic caught on with the rest of the catchers around the league. Pudge holds the record for highest career caught stealing percentage at 45.68%. During his 21 year career, Pudge grabbed 13 gold gloves and 14 All-Star appearances.
Pudge was the best defensive catcher of all-time. Never was a catcher more feared to run on then when Pudge was behind the plate. The only reason why people can debate if he was the best catcher of all-time is because of the amazing careers of Johnny Bench and Yogi Berra. Pudge has a better career average than both Bench and Berra, but falls short in his power numbers and World Series rings. Of all the positions on the diamond, catcher is the most important and it’s the reason why Pudge is the best catcher of all time.