SportsNation Blog Archives Ivan Rodriguez
No-hitters are rare and nifty and come with great celebrations; we get all of that. But when you get down to it, they aren't as rare as hitters going 5 for 5 and driving in seven runs at the plate. In fact, as ESPN Research helpfully point out, Twins star Joe Mauer became the third catcher ever to do just that during Monday's 19-1 shellacking of the Royals.
This hasn't even been Mauer's best season to date (although jumping from a .295 batting average to a .305 average in one night -- especially a night halfway through the season -- will do a lot to disguise that), but with the possible exception of Brian McCann in Atlanta, he's still the biggest offensive threat at his position. And as Mauer closes in on completing his sixth full season with the Twins, it seems fair to start wondering about his place among the position's all-time greats.
The All-Star Game isn't the only game in town. Forget voting for the best players of the first half of this season; we're looking for the best of 20 seasons of baseball on ESPN.
We asked you to help us narrow down the field for the best players and managers during 20 years of baseball on ESPN. The first round of voting is complete, and we've got the three finalists you selected at each position. Now it's time to pick the winners.
For this week's edition, three of the finest modern era catchers square off. The winner will be announced Aug. 2 on Sunday Night Baseball (Los Angeles at Atlanta, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN). Next Monday, you'll have a chance to vote on a first baseman to join the team. The final team will be announced Sept. 20 on Sunday Night Baseball.
Without further ado, the three catcher finalists you selected:
Mike Piazza: Arguably the best-hitting catcher of all time, Piazza is a 10-time Silver Slugger Award winner and 12-time All-Star selection. With 427 home runs under his belt, he holds the career record for most HRs hit by a catcher. Other notable achievements include his 1993 selection as NL Rookie of the Year and one as MVP in the 1996 All-Star Game.
Jorge Posada: This Yankees legend has won five Silver Slugger Awards and is the only Yankees catcher since Yogi Berra to hit 30 home runs in a season. He has won an incredible four World Series championships with the Yanks and has been selected for the All-Star team five times. Posada's best season perhaps came in 2003, when he drove in 101 runs and hit 30 home runs.
Ivan Rodriguez: With 13 Golden Glove Awards to his name, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez ranks as one of the greatest defensive catchers ever to play the game. Other additions to his résumé include his seven Silver Slugger Awards and his 14-time All-Star selection. In 1999, I-Rod took home the AL Most Valuable Player Award, and he won his first World Series title in 2003.