Posted on 24 April 2012.
Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez was honored today before the start of the Texas Rangers game with the New York Yankees as he announced his retirement from baseball, and this baseball fan couldn’t be happier.
Pudge will go down as one of the all-time Rangers greats, and easily the greatest catcher of our era. He played 21 seasons breaking into the major leagues at the age of 19. He was a 14-time All-Star and a 13-time Gold Glove winner, including 10 in a row.
He set the standard for catchers defensively during his time. Over the course of his career he had a caught stealing percentage of 46%. That is 15% higher than the league average over the same time period. He led the league 9 times and had 7 seasons where his percentage was over 50%, including 1 season at 60%. He was simply the best defensive catcher I’ve ever seen.
During the 90’s fans go so much pleasure out of seeing him throw a runner out or even better pick a runner off first base. His throws were not only hard but very precise which was what made him so good.
Don’t let his defense fool you though. Most catchers who are great defensively aren’t as good offensively. This wasn’t the case for Pudge. When he first came up to the Majors he was strictly a defensive call up. However, that soon changed as he continued to better himself at the dish culminating in his 1999 MVP season.
In his MVP season, Rodriguez hit .332, 35 home runs, 113 RBI, slugged .558, stole 25 bases, won a gold glove, a silver slugger, and was an all-star. It was quite the year for Pudge. And he would have had a better year in 2000, but he was sidelined late in the year with a broken hand.
In his career he hit 311 home runs, drove in 1332 runs, hit .296, and had an OPS of .798. Not bad for a defensive catcher.
He’ll always have a place in the hearts of Rangers fans. He was a huge part of the Rangers 3 AL West Titles in the 1990s, and he is a sure fire Hall of Famer.
Thanks for the memories Pudge. You will be missed.