CBS’s Jon Heyman was the first to report that catcher Ivan Rodriguez will be retiring tomorrow. Rodriguez played for six teams over his career, and spent his last two seasons with the Washington Nationals.
For his career, Rodriguez hit .296/.334/.464, won the 1999 AL MVP award, and won 13 Gold Glove awards. He won a World Series with the Marlins in 2003, and was a member of the AL pennant winning Detroit Tigers in 2006. Two of the top three most comparable players to Rodriguez on Baseball-Reference are also elite catchers: Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk, and Ted Simmons.
Rodriguez’s career fWAR of 74.1 is third all-time among catchers, behind just Johnny Bench and Fisk. His 2348 games started behind the plate is the all-time record, and it’s indisputable that he’s one of the top five catchers of all-time. His main contemparies were Jorge Posada and Mike Piazza, both of whom played less than Rodriguez, and neither of whom were quite the receiver behind the plate in comparison to Rodriguez.
There have been better hitting catchers than Rodriguez, this fact is indisputable. But he wasn’t a slouch with the bat by any means, and his defensive prowess is what makes him what of the best of all-time at the position.