clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ten Best Seasons: Catcher

I had originally planned to start this series a week or so ago, but then the Coco Crisp melodrama ignited.

In an attempt to bring some Indians historical talk to this site, I've combed through all 105 seasons and identified the ten best seasons at each position. This first segment will focus on the catchers. In reverse order:

(10) Einar Diaz, 2001

437 AB, .277/.328/.387, 34 2B, 4 HR

Honors: None

Although he had filled in often for the oft-injured Sandy Alomar, 2001 marked the first season the starting catcher's job was his. And Diaz made the most of it, appearing in 134 games.

In 2002, Einar hit .206/.258/.284, earning him a ticket out of town: he was dealt to Texas (with Ryan Drese) for Travis Hafner and Aaron Myette. In the spring of 2004, the Rangers dealt him to Montreal for Chris Young (the pitcher).

(9) Sandy Alomar, 2000

356 AB, .289/.324/.404, 16 2B, 7 HR

Honors: None

In his swan song with the Indians, Alomar had one of the best seasons of his career. Sandy only appeared in 97 games, but made the most of them, especially since it marked the first extended opportunity for him to play alongside his brother Roberto.

(8) Sandy Alomar, 1997

451 AB, .324/.354/.545, 37 2B, 21 HR

Honors: All-Star, All-Star MVP, 14th on MVP Ballot

Alomar was one the driving forces on a 1997 team which underachieved in the regular season but won the pennant. Alomar posted career highs in home runs, doubles, hits, at bats, and RBI. His home run in the All-Star game held at Jacobs Field earned him MVP honors. His home run against Mariano Rivera in the ALDS helped to keep the Indians alive in the series. He also hit in 30 straight games, which fell one game short of the team record.

(7) Frankie Pytlak, 1937

397 AB, .315/.404/.390, 15 2B, 6 3B, 1 HR, 16 SB

Honors: 7th Stolen Bases

Durability was also a problem for Pytlak over his career, but in 1937 he appeared in 125 games and posted career numbers in a number of categories, including stolen bases. Pytlak had a great eye at the plate, as evidenced by his strikeout/walk numbers (15/52).

In 1938 Pytlak caught a baseball dropped from the Terminal Tower (706 feet). He was traded to Boston in 1940.

(6) Victor Martinez, 2004

520 AB, .283/.359/.492, 38 2B, 23 HR

Honors: All-Star, Silver Slugger, 21st on MVP Ballot, 10th in RBI

2004 was Victor's first full season in the majors, and he impressed, settling in as the team's cleanup hitter for a vastly improved offense. He appeared in an amazing 141 games, no small feat for a full-time catcher.

(5) Jim Hegan, 1948

472 AB, .248/.317/.407, 21 2B, 6 3B, 14 HR

Honors: 19th in MVP Voting, 6th Power/Speed Number

Hegan gets extra marks for playing time and defense. 1948 was his best season offensively and defensively. Hegan was never a good offensive catcher, but in an era where offensive backstops were rare, Hegan carved out a long career for himself thanks to his game-calling and defense.

(4) Johnny Romano, 1962

459 AB, .261/.363/.479, 19 2B, 25 HR

Honors: All-Star, 10th Slugging, 10th OPS, 9th Adjusted OPS, 9th AB/HR

Romano led the 1962 Indians in home runs, which I believe is the only time in club history that a catcher was the team's home run leader.

Johnny was involved in two of the more famous trades in team history. He was acquired in 1959 from Chicago in the Minnie Minoso deal, and was traded in 1965 back to the White Sox in the re-acquisition of Rocky Colavito.

(3) Steve O'Neill, 1920

489 AB, .321/.408/.440, 39 2B, 5 3B, 3 HR

Honors: 10th OBP, 7th 2B, 8th BB

O'Neill was a key part of the Indians' 1920 championship team, and later became a tremendous manager, helping to develop the careers of both Lou Boudreau and Bob Feller.

(2) Johnny Romano, 1961

509 AB, .299/.377/.483, 29 2B, 21 HR

Honors: All-Star, 24th MVP Voting, 8th AVG, 10th OPS, 10th 2B, 9th Adjusted OPS

More of the same from Romano, although he hit for a higher average in 1961. The 1961 team also featured a slugging shortstop (Woodie Held) who slugged 23 homers, and a first baseman (Vic Power) who only hit 5 home runs.

(1) Victor Martinez, 2005

547 AB, .305/.378/.475, 33 2B, 20 HR

Honors: 18th MVP Voting, 7th AVG

Martinez's 547(!) at-bats really helps him out here, but his rate stats are still very good. Especially considering that he was struggling to hit .200 through the first couple months of the year.