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When I first wrote this article it was 1993 & it seemed then that we were reaching a golden age of good young catchers who had come into the game.  Barring  injuries I wrote  then that many of them would emerge as

outstanding players at that position.  Was I right? Here is the article and judge for yourself.


It seems that someone in heaven looked down and said, “Mr. Stanley, we’re going to see to it that you are going to have one of the best years that a catcher can have. “ And so he has. That seems to be the only possible explanation for what happened to Mickey Stanley this year. Coming from nowhere, he ended up hitting over.300, had close to 30 homeruns, and over 80 RBIs. His handling of a mixed bag of Yankee pitchers with considerable skill was remarkable and along with Jimmy Key he ended up being the most valuable player on the team.

Could this herald things to come?


Along with Mike Stanley, Chris Hoiles picked this year to emerge as a potent offensive force and a possible future star. His statistics for ’93 seem to point in that direction ie .310 BA, 29 Homeruns, and 89 RBIs. The defensive skills have always been apparent. He possesses a fine throwing arm, handles business at the plate with assurance, and is maybe a year or two away from being one of the best overall catchers in the game. The only thing from possibly stopping that from happening is that he is used at other positions on the field and may not remain as a catcher.


His fielding at the position is not very special but year after year he hits over .300 and gets more than a hundred RBIs. Because of his offensive arsenal he too has been used at other positions but he prefers being behind the plate. He has a strong arm and does do well with runners on the bases. This was the first year in awhile when his average wasn’t up to snuff (.240), but you can’t ignore 32 Homers and 110 RBIs.


Here comes the future and his name is Ivan Rodriguez! Playing for Texas, the 1993 American League ALL STAR starting catcher hit .277, had 10 HRs, and 66 RBIs. Not bad at all, and you know what, this baby bull (he’s only 21) will get better offensively. However it’s not his offense that the baseball world has been raving about. By popular consensus, it’s generally agreed that with the exception of Benito Santiago, nobody has better catching tools than Ivan Rodriguez! His arm is a cannon and he throws straight and true. He guards the plate better than anyone, (once again Santiago being the exception), and pitchers swear by the way he handles them. It looks like Ivan will be around for a long time.


We really can’t ignore Sandy Alomar. If he ever gets healthy again he will jump right into the near top of the list. He can hit, he can catch,  he can do everything.  Unfortunately he can also get hurt and that’s his problem. Injuries have hampered his progress the last two years and let’s hope 1994 is an injury free one for him.


He is an offensive machine and in recent years he has cleaned up his act at the plate. One of the mainstays of the Philadelphia Phillies in the last few years, Daulton along with Lenny Dykstra, has become indispensible to the team. This year he clubbed his usual 25 homeruns and 104 RBIs.


Some guys seem to be around forever and taken for granted, and then somebody realizes how good they are. Enter Don Slaught.  With his .299 BA, 10 HRs,  and 54 RBIs,  he certainly has carried his offensive load for the Pittsburgh Pirates. What makes him even more valuable is his tenacious and fine play around the plate. Even though his arm is not overtly powerful, he throws accurately and keeps runners honest. A very good and accurate catcher.


Nobody, but nobody is a better all around defensive catcher than Benito Santiago. He has the best arm in the game, blocks balls better than anyone else in the game, handles pitches like a surgeon,  can make a pitcher look like Picasso, and throws from a crouching position better than most catchers who stand up. To repeat, he has no peer, even after several years in the Majors. So where’s the problem?

The problem is his attitude and in recent years his hitting has become suspect. In fact this was his worst year as a batter. That’s still not a problem with a catcher of his ability. What is the real problem is his personality and at this point it can’t be ignored. Finally after putting up with him for years, San Diego decided to unload him and his high priced salary to the Colorado Rockies. What the Rockies got was a superb catcher and a very difficult human being. He is a detriment on the bench, questions decision after decision, and drives his managers crazy He does just about the same thing with his teammates. Off the field he is a very pleasant and charming fellow, but on the field he’s a terror. But still there is his catching……


We’ve saved the best for last. I’m going to make some predictions. Mike Piazza will be the 1993 Rookie of the Year. Here’s another one. One day Mike Piazza will lead the League in hitting, HRs, and RBIs. Here are two more. One day he will get a MVP (maybe even two), and one day he will lead the League in fielding and in getting runners out on attempted steals and in least passed balls, etc, etc, Now here’s my final prediction. One day Mike Piazza will get into the Hall Of  Fame!

Nuff said.


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