Originally Posted by MikeThierry
Bench's OBP is just nine points higher than Rodriguez so its not exactly like comparing Pujols OBP to Bench's. I'm also taking defense into account in this debate. Bench was an brilliant defensive catcher but Rodriguez might be the greatest defensive catcher in the history of the game. The thing with Ivan is that he is pretty much played Catcher his whole career where as Bench played other positions including in his last days where he mostly played first base and third base. If the question is "who is the best catcher in the history of the game", longevity at that position has to be taken into account. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Bench isn't the greatest catcher in the history of the game, my point was that there is an argument to be made that Rodriguez is and it isn't as much as a shut case as it is being made out to be here. Granted, I know it will fall on a lot of deaf ears here considering this is a Reds forum so its difficult for some to be objective about the topic.
Their OBPs are similar, but they played in completely different eras. If we look at wRC+, which is both league and park adjusted and based on wOBA, we get a completely different story. Bench posted a 125 wRC+ for his career, whereas Rodriguez comes in at 104 wRC+. Bench was 25% above average offensively for his career, whereas Rodriguez was only 4% above average. WAR is also very much in Bench's favor. Their overall WAR is reasonably close (81.5 for Bench, 73.4 for Rodriguez), but you have to consider that Bench played in roughly 400 fewer games over his career. When we adjust this to a per 162 games number, again, we get a much clearer picture. Bench's WAR/162 is 6.2, where Rodriguez weighs in at 4.7. You can make the argument that Rodriguez's improved longevity should be factored in when determining who should be named the best catcher of all time, but given the fact that Bench was much more effective on a per game basis and still
put up a higher career WAR despite playing in 400 fewer games, I do, indeed, think it's a pretty open-and-shut case.
I'd even argue that Piazza was better than Rodriguez. His overall WAR comes out a bit lower (66.7 to Pudge's 73.4), but he played in roughly 600 fewer games than Pudge. Piazza's WAR/162 comes out to 5.7, even with his horrid defense. The guy was a beast at the plate.