Ignore Pudge Rodriguez’s offense and look only at his defense. Yes, that’s like hiring Sophia Vergara strictly on her comic timing.
But do it.
While most people look at a player’s offense as the ticket into the Hall of Fame, Pudge got there because of his defense. He said so himself last night on MLB Network Radio.
And more than his defense, his right arm. Calling it an arm is like calling the Lamborghini Venono a compact car. His arm was a cannon.
Billy Ripkin pointed out that, in his entire baseball career, he never saw any single player throw as much as Pudge in spring training. He spent hours throwing from home to second. Then more hours throwing off the mound. Then even more taking infield practice so he could throw to first.
His arm was his bread and butter. And his arm was responsible for killing more rallies than Ian Kinsler.
It wasn’t just his percentage of throwing out runners—46 percent for his career; he lead his league in that stat nine times. It was his uncanny ability to shut down secondary lead offs. Runners never strayed too far off first or they would be picked off.
That was a game changer.
That meant, the runner had to stay close to first, so when the next batter hit one on the ground, he was doubled up instead of beating it out at second.
It also meant the runner was at first instead of second on a base hit, so he didn’t score.
It’s hard to say how many runs Pudge prevented in his career. But seeing as how he won thirteen Gold Gloves (including ten in a row), and was an All-Star fourteen times, and A.L. MVP in 1999, someone must have noticed.
Oh, his offense was decent.
Fifth most HRs as a catcher all time.
First among catchers in base hits and doubles.
Seven-time Silver Slugger award winner.
In fact, Pudge Rodriguez is one of five players in MLB history with a .290 batting average, 2,500 hits, 550 doubles, 300 home runs and 1,300 RBIs. Perhaps you’ve heard of the others: Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, George Brett, and Barry Bonds.
Yesterday, Ivan Rodriguez became only the second catcher ever (along with Johnny Bench) to be elected into the Hall of Fame the first year on the ballot.
It looks like he picked off another accomplishment.