Jake vs. Aflac Trivia: Part 294

Bloggified by Jake on Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Aflac Trivia question for today's Tigers/Diamondbacks game:

Name the five all-time hits leaders among catchers.

My answer:

  • Ivan Rodriguez (the old Aflac rule of thumb)
  • Carlton Fisk
  • Mike Piazza
  • Yogi Berra
  • Um... not Johnny Bench. They're hoping you pick him because he's the obvious Hall of Fame catcher, but he was a power hitter who struck out a lot and probably only batted like .260 in his career so I don't think he's on there. (Actually .267)
  • Gary Carter? How long did Bill Dickey play? Was there some guy from the 1890's who managed to ring up 2500 hits, like Chief Zimmer or Bill Dahlen? (Bill Dahlen was a shortstop so I'm not sure why I thought of him.)
  • Let's go with Mickey Cochrane

Aflac's answer:
  • Ivan Rodriguez - 2531
  • Ted Simmons - 2472
  • Carlton Fisk - 2356
  • Joe Torre - 2342
  • Yogi Berra - 2150

Hang on! Okay, I'll admit I completely overlooked Ted Simmons, and Mickey Cochrane only managed 1652 hits in his career*. But Joe Torre? Torre played 903 of his 2207 games at catcher. He didn't play a single game behind the plate after 1970, including his 1971 MVP season where he played a third base all year while accumulating 230 of those 2342 hits. In fact, he notched 1043 hits in 1969 and from 1971-1977, during which time he played a total of 17 games at catcher (all in '69).

So while it's arguable that Joe Torre got 2342 hits in his career, some of which he played as a catcher, it's more correct to say he got fewer than 1000 hits as a catcher and is nowhere near Mike Piazza on any list that tracks career hit for catchers.

If playing catcher at some point is the only stipulation to get a spot on the list, then Craig Biggio, who began as a catcher for four season and went on to finish his career ranked 20th all time among the major league hitters with 3020 hits should be on that list. Cap Anson (7th all time with 3418 career hits) played 31 games at catcher for the Cubs in 1877 (and 105 games total there in a 27 year career). In 1925, Jimmie Foxx caught a game for the Philadelphia Athletics at the age of 17, then finished his career with 2646 hits. For that matter, I guess that makes The Beast also the all-time home run leader among catchers, right?

I hate you Aflac Trivia Question.

*Cochrane only played 13 years? I always think of him as one of those guys who played forever, but I guess that's because he was MVP twice and played for two of the greatest teams in history: the 1929 Athletics and the 1934 Tigers. I guess that's only a five year gap, but in my mind it was bigger.

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