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.
Puffy, I know Pujols WAR is down this year but I find it hard to believe that he goes from the best hitter in the game to just an above average player in the span of one season. I think there were some goofy circumstances this season (broken forearm, first free agency coming up, bad first two months, etc) that play into it. Since the All Star break, Pujols has led the Cards in WAR and has looked like his old self.
I believe that Yogi Berra has a better case than Ivan Rodriguez. Taking nothing away from Pudge, I just can't put him on the level with the others due to his alleged steroid usage. Great player for his time, yes. But there's a major question of "what would he have been?" that I can't get past.
And Pujols has slowly, but surely declined the last four years. Nothing drastic, still a hell of a player and a Hall of Famer, but his peak years are behind him. I think we'll continue to see a steady and slow regression. I don't think he'll fall off a cliff and I think he'll continue to be a very productive player. But I'm not sure how many more years of "franchise caliber player" he has left in him. Could be 3-4, could be fewer. Either way, he's a good bet to be an All Star going forward.
Yes, he's declining. But the guy reached heights very few have ever seen, so even a decline for him still looks pretty damn good numbers wises.