As the Minnesota Twins coming up on their 120th season, we look back at the five best catchers in franchise history.
The Minnesota Twins are one of the oldest franchises in baseball, dating back to 1901, when they were the league bottom-dweller known as the Washington Senators. Since that time, the team has won three championships, six pennants, and eleven division titles.
It has also suffered through seven 100+ loss seasons, fourteen playoff defeats, and have lost over 1100 games to the New York Yankees. The team has had some really good seasons, and some really bad seasons. Throughout it all, there have been some excellent players who have carried the team.
These excellent players deserve some recognition , so Puckett’s Pond will be putting together a list of the top players at each position to get ready for the top 50 players of all time. In order to make it on this list, players need to have played over 400 games, been excellent on offense and defense, and played an important role for the team. We’ll be starting with catcher, so let’s get to it.
Years: 1916-1923, 1929-1930 (10 seasons)
Patsy Gharrity was one of the best catchers in the league during his time with the Washington Senators, catching 3,542 innings over his lengthy tenure with the team. Though he only played five games during his second tour with the team, he led the team in innings in the 1920s.
He also was easily one of the best offensive catchers the team had while playing in Washington. Gharrity’s career batting average of .262 was an exceptionally high mark for the time he was playing. He also batted in 249 runs over 676 games, another high mark for catchers while the team was still in Washington.
His WAR (Wins above Replacement) of 7.9 is ok, but not great, but his dWAR is where he stands out. 2.3 is not an elite number, but its way above average and deserves recognition. Patsy Gharrity may not make any lists of all-time greats, but he was solid for a long time for a struggling team.
Years: 1998-2003 (6 seasons)
One of the most hated players in baseball for a while, especially by Minnesota Twins fans, Pierzynski started his career with the Minnesota Twins and was there when the team started to turn around in the early 2000’s. He was a key piece of the team that beat the Moneyball A’s in 2002, but was traded to the San Fransisco Giants after the 2003 season.
Pierzynski does not deserve as much hate as he gets, as in the 430 games he played with the Twins, he hit .301, had 193 RBIs, a 9.5 WAR, a 3.1 dWAR, and an all-star game in his short tenure. He was arguably one of the top catchers in the game, but was traded so a spot would be opened for some kid named Joe Mauer.
Pierzynski was saddened by the trade and still remained close with his Twins teammates afterwards, and the deal brought back Fransisco Liriano, Boof Bonser, and Joe Nathan, setting up the team for years to come, so maybe he deserves a break. Pierzynski did go ahead to sign with the Chicago White Sox and be a pain for years afterwards, so also, maybe not.