The Dodgers are a franchise peppered with some of the greatest catchers in the history of baseball. Sluggers, athletes, and true heroes have suited up for the blue behind the dish. So we polled people on Twitter…
Who was the best Dodgers catcher of all time? #DNPoll
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) March 23, 2020
In a surprisingly close vote, 2016 hall of famer Mike Piazza snuck by 1969 HOFer Roy Campanella in the eyes of fans as the greatest Dodger catcher of all time… but was that the right call?
Let’s rank the top 5 to the best of our ability here.
5. Steve Yeager
Playgirl’s own Steve Yeager. When he wasn’t (unfortunately) modeling, he spent a whole lot of years catching in Los Angeles. Most of his time was split with Lasorda-favorite Joe Ferguson and the next guy on this list.
While not really known for his bat, Yeager posted 17.9 bWAR in 14 seasons with LA. In 1,219 games, he hit an even 100 home runs with triple slashing .228/.299/.358 with the bat. He is also part of baseball’s only three-way ownership of a World Series MVP award, who he shares with Pedro Gurrero and Ron Cey from the 1981 championship.
4. Johnny Roseboro
The Ohio native took over for the legendary Roy Campanella behind the dish after Roy was paralyzed in a terrible automobile accident in the 1957-1958 offseason — the same winter the Dodgers were moving from Brooklyn to Los Angeles.
In 11 seasons with the Dodgers, Roseboro posted 21.9 bWAR (Baseball-Reference Wins Above Replacement) while connecting on 92 home runs and slashing .251/.327/.382 in nearly 1,300 games — second most in franchise history. He also was on 3 World Series winning teams (’59, ’63, ’65), the most in franchise history.
3. Mike Scioscia
Long before he was the long-time manager of the Anaheim Angels, Mike Scioscia was manager Tommy Lasorda’s go-to catcher for 13 seasons. His 1,395 games caught are the most in franchise history. Never known as a power-threat, he’s the owner of one of the most iconic postseason home runs in Dodger history.
He spent all 13 seasons of his big league career with the Dodgers, posting 26.1 bWAR and slashing .259/.344/.356 with 68 home runs along the way. Mike was being groomed to become the successor to Lasorda, but the FOX ownership group messed that all up.
2. Mike Piazza
After Mike Scioscia the glove there was Mike Piazza the slugger. While he was voted as the best Dodger catcher in the Twitter vote above, he’s number two on this list. Why? He just plainly was not a Dodger long enough to put up the numbers.
Never known as a defensive wizard, his bat very much more than made up for it. The prolific slugger hit 177 home runs in only 7 seasons with Los Angeles. His triple slash line of .331/.394/.572 looks closer to video game numbers than that of a big league catcher at the time. His 32 bWAR in only 7 seasons still ranks him in the top 30 for most in franchise history.
In Piazza’s case, Rupert Murdoch and FOX struck once again and forced management to trade the 62nd round draft pick amid contentious contract negotiations. He went on to play 9 more seasons — mostly with the New York Mets — and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016… not as a Dodger.
- Yasmani Grandal
- Russell Martin
- Paul Lo Duca
1. Roy Campanella
You knew number one would be Campy. The Brooklyn legend should be number one for his Civil rights heroics alongside Jackie Robinson alone. But he was ridiculous with the bat as well. Campanella came to the Dodgers one season after Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier and the two together became a dynamic force for the middle of the Brooklyn order.
In 10 seasons with the Dodgers, Roy was a 8-time All-Star, a three-time MVP, and cranked a still-franchise-leading 242 home runs while slashing .272/.360/.500.
As mentioned above, the catcher was involved in an automobile accident that left him paralyzed. While he never suited up for the Dodgers in Los Angeles, he still is part of the lore. I’ll let Vin Scully tell the story.
Campy’s number 39 was retired by the Dodgers in 1972 along with Sandy Koufax’s 32 and Jackie Robinson’s iconic 42.
Do you agree with this list? Let know know in the comments below and feel free to share your stories about these Dodgers legends.