Originally Posted by MikeThierry
Considering that Rodriguez is a better defensive catcher than Bench, Bench certainly does take a back seat to someone. Comparing and contrasting their defensive skills is like comparing two high performance race cars. Both had stellar defense so you would like to have both of them behind the plate but I-Rod stands out from the rest of the pack when it comes to defense.
I think you completely underestimate I-Rod's offensive abilities as well. Even if you take into account Rodriguez's offensive decline around age 36, he still has a career .297 batting average compared to Bench's .267. Bench had more power but I-Rod batting 30 points higher for a career than Bench is something to note and shouldn't be dismissed as "being a good hitter for a catcher".
Batting average is the only
offensive category in which Rodriguez rates higher, and that's even more important when you consider that batting average is easily the most useless wide-spread rate stat we can use when comparing the value of players. Bench got on base more frequently and hit for more power in an era that was much more offensively starved. Rodriguez may have been better defensively, but he was much worse offensively when you take league factors into account. As stated earlier, their wRC+ is very different, with Bench coming in at 25% above league average for his career, compared to Rodriguez only being 4% above league average. You may say that's because Rodriguez played many years past his prime, but even in their prime, Bench fared much better. Bench posted six seasons of 130+ wRC+; Pudge, two. Both were really good, but there really is no comparing their offensive numbers. Bench wins in a landslide.
And for all the love Pudge gets for being a great base stealer, his career SB% is 66.5%. That means his attempts at stealing bases actually cost his teams more runs than they earned, considering 75% is the break-even rate.