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  • Bench/Carter

    Looking at the stats of Johnny Bench and Gary carter, it is surprising to find that they are remarkably similiar. Bench had a little more power, but the batting average and on base percentages were almost the same, in about the same amount of games (Carter actually played more). Both are considered among the best fielding catchers ever in the game. My question is: why is Bench considered by many to be among the 20 or so best players of all time, while carter would have problems cracking the top 200 most of the time ? I think the answer is twofold: 1) Bench had a better peak..a couple of monster MVP seasons very early in his career, and he is seen as being on that level as a hitter, even though career-wise he really wasnt. 2) Exaggerated RBI numbers due to the teams he was on. Being in the middle of the big red machine with Rose, Griffey and Morgan to drive in, bench had over 120 RBI 3 times and over 100 6 times. But if you cover up the RBi and look at the other stats, there really isnt that much to distinguish between the two players.
    Yes, Bench is a notch above Carter both at the plate and probably in the field as well....but it just seems to me that the difference between the two is magnified by most people. Is Bench overrated or is Carter underrated, or both?
    Last edited by willshad; 04-30-2008, 11:54 PM.

  • #2
    Carter is underrated. Understand though, that I say this as a fan of Bench and would in no way imply that he was not as good as he will always be in my mind.
    The Writer's Journey

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    • #3
      Yeah, you might have a point. Bench leads Carter in career win shares 355-339 and WARP3 120.8 - 117. That certainly points to the over value of their careers as being very similar. On the other hand a big reason the Big Red Machine was the Big Red Machine was Johnny Bench.
      Buck O'Neil: The Monarch of Baseball

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      • #4
        I was (and technically still am) a big supporter of Carter. There was a time here a few years ago when it seemed nobody here thought of Carter in their top 10 of Catchers, and even a few that didn't think he should be in the hall. Carter has always been borderline top 6 for me. I don't know if the animosity still exists here, but I hope more people acknowledge his greatness.
        AL East Champions: 1981 1982
        AL Pennant: 1982
        NL Central Champions: 2011
        NL Wild Card: 2008

        "It was like coming this close to your dreams and then watching them brush past you like a stranger in a crowd. At the time you don't think much of it; you know, we just don't recognize the significant moments of our lives while they're happening. Back then I thought, 'Well, there'll be other days.' I didn't realize that that was the only day." - Moonlight Graham

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        • #5
          Carter is underrated. At one point I didn't see him as a valid hall of fame candidate! but now I think he is EASILY top 100, and probably in the lower 70s. I have also tended to drop Bench slightly from as high as 14-15 to the lower end of the top 25.

          but it is important to know that Bench was a monster through 1972 after which he had invasive lung tumor surgery that would have ended most players careers back then. He was just entering what should have been his prime ages 25-28 and he really was never as good again as he had been in '70 or '72.

          In '72 many considered him to be the most feared hitter in the national league, and he had a career throwout rate of right at 50% right on with I-Rod's amazing rate.

          He claimed that after the surgery he never got around on the fastball quite as well again, and that he never threw as well again.

          If his years in '74, '75 and '77 had been more like .300 with 40 home runs which would be a reasonable adjustment for a normal career peak, he would rank much higher statistically. I would even suggest that he was on track to become the only catcher with 500 home runs and probably would have finished around 450.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by brett View Post
            Carter is underrated. At one point I didn't see him as a valid hall of fame candidate! but now I think he is EASILY top 100, and probably in the lower 70s. I have also tended to drop Bench slightly from as high as 14-15 to the lower end of the top 25.

            but it is important to know that Bench was a monster through 1972 after which he had invasive lung tumor surgery that would have ended most players careers back then. He was just entering what should have been his prime ages 25-28 and he really was never as good again as he had been in '70 or '72.

            In '72 many considered him to be the most feared hitter in the national league, and he had a career throwout rate of right at 50% right on with I-Rod's amazing rate.

            He claimed that after the surgery he never got around on the fastball quite as well again, and that he never threw as well again.

            If his years in '74, '75 and '77 had been more like .300 with 40 home runs which would be a reasonable adjustment for a normal career peak, he would rank much higher statistically. I would even suggest that he was on track to become the only catcher with 500 home runs and probably would have finished around 450.
            brett,

            In your opinion how much of Bench's decline was because of his surgery and how much was because of the large workloads he handled as young catcher. Here are his games played through age 26. The number in parenthesis are his games at catcher.

            19-26 (26)
            20-154 (154)
            21-148 (147)
            22-158 (139)
            23-149 (141)
            24-147 (129)
            25-152 (134)
            26-160 (137)
            Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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            • #7
              Originally posted by SABR Matt View Post
              Gary Carter was an outstanding receiver, kept down the baserunning game, and prevented WP and PB better than normal too. There's a reason he was looked at as a leader and revered in NY on that '86 team. Here's Carter's PCA line:
              Code:
              Yr	EqG	Wins	PCA-BA
              1974	5	0.11	0.328
              1975	52	0.67	0.277
              1976	57	0.81	0.283
              1977	140	1.96	0.283
              1978	148	3.51	0.336
              1979	133	3.69	0.359
              1980	146	4.30	0.368
              1981	95	2.70	0.363
              1982	151	4.70	0.378
              1983	140	4.41	0.380
              1984	134	2.36	0.302
              1985	137	2.02	0.286
              1986	123	0.75	0.238
              1987	129	1.38	0.264
              1988	109	0.58	0.234
              1989	39	0.28	0.244
              1990	63	0.45	0.244
              1991	56	0.86	0.290
              1992	74	0.47	0.240
              Here's Bench:
              Code:
              Yr	EqG	Wins	PCA-BA
              1967	25	0.53	0.321
              1968	145	3.50	0.339
              1969	138	3.24	0.335
              1970	133	3.17	0.337
              1971	133	1.51	0.268
              1972	127	2.72	0.324
              1973	127	2.49	0.313
              1974	128	2.62	0.318
              1975	120	3.07	0.347
              1976	117	2.58	0.327
              1977	122	1.32	0.265
              1978	97	1.59	0.295
              1979	119	1.29	0.265
              1980	90	0.39	0.229
              1981	7	0.06	0.249
              1983	3	0.05	0.294
              Both outstanding fielding catchers...Carter definitely appears to have had the better peak and been more durable...Catching is tough to get exactly right so there's room for disagreement...I do think Bench's legend is more impressive than his actual on-field accomplishments, not that he wasn't a first ballot HOF slam dunk stud.
              Through PCA it looks like neither declined well. Carter had a 6 year stretch that averaged .364. I believe only Ivan has a better 6 years stretch in history at .372.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
                brett,

                In your opinion how much of Bench's decline was because of his surgery and how much was because of the large workloads he handled as young catcher. Here are his games played through age 26. The number in parenthesis are his games at catcher.

                19-26 (26)
                20-154 (154)
                21-148 (147)
                22-158 (139)
                23-149 (141)
                24-147 (129)
                25-152 (134)
                26-160 (137)
                Bench discussed his hitting in 1972. He said that up until then, he basically focused on his ability to hit the fastball, and then recognize the breaking ball as well as possible. He stated that in 1972 he finally had reached a level where he could turn on any fastball so well that he actually started looking for the breaking ball first, and then just flipping the switch on the fastball. He believed that he controlled the at-bat, rather than the pitcher for the first time in his career. He lead the league with 23 IBB's and reached 100 walks for the one time in his career.

                He said that in '73 he could no longer get around on the best fastballs and had to go back to his previous approach. We are talking about a 25 year old at this point. '73 was an obvious drop-off year.

                In '72 the guy only allowed 24 steals in 129 games caught, allowed 2 passed balls, and lead the league with 8 pickoffs.

                With pickoffs and caught stealing he recorded 39 outs on the bases and allowed just 24 steals!. That's about 50 steals below the break-even point!


                I think he would have had a faster decline than most, but '73-'75 should have been tremendous years. The guy peaked by 24 and at that point was probably the youngest "sure thing" hall of famer ever.

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                • #9
                  --Carter is underrated. If there really are people who doubt he is one of the top 200 players of all time, as suggested in the opening post, those people are simply ignorant. Anyone who doesn't have him in theor top 100 needs to do some more homework.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I agree Carter is within the top 200 players ever, but I dont think anyone would put him close to the top 20 or even top 50. I guess we must admit that, if Bench and carter are very close, then perhaps Bench is a bit overrated. Maybe when making their list, they think that there MUST be a catcher within the top 20 or 30, so they just put Bench, who is universally regarded as the best ever. Maybe it's possible that no catcher deserves to be that high? I know that the damands of the position make it difficult for them to have the career value (or even single season value ) of other positions. Yet, how much do we adjust for this? Is it not possible that you can be the best catcher ever, yet not be as valuable as the 20th best first baseman ever careerwise?

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                    • #11
                      --No I don't agree that its possible (well maybe its theoritically possible, but not in the real world) for the 20th best firstbaseman to be better than the best catcher.

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                      • #12
                        When Carter was called up in 1974, Bench was in his 7th full season, so they are pretty much players of at least a similar generation (the first generation of divisional play and the second NL expansion in the 20th Century).

                        Another contemporary of Johnny Bench, and also a catcher, Ted Simmons, doesn't garner as much respect as Bench or Carter. Of the three, Ted was the best contact hitter, and finished his career with a .285 average and his on base percentage was higher than Carter or Bench. During his catching days with the Cardinals, he was usually over .300 (.332 in 1975. Now he didn't have the power of Bench or Carter - and during his time with the Cardinals, definitely didn't play in a stadium condusive to homeruns, but he had fair power and hit 248 career HR's - he was capable of 20-26 HR's, and went over the 100 RBI mark three times and over 90, eight times. Bench and Carter were better overall defensively than Simmons, and had better cannons at gunning down SB types, but Simmons was not bad defensively.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by willshad View Post
                          I agree Carter is within the top 200 players ever, but I dont think anyone would put him close to the top 20 or even top 50. I guess we must admit that, if Bench and carter are very close, then perhaps Bench is a bit overrated. Maybe when making their list, they think that there MUST be a catcher within the top 20 or 30, so they just put Bench, who is universally regarded as the best ever. Maybe it's possible that no catcher deserves to be that high? I know that the damands of the position make it difficult for them to have the career value (or even single season value ) of other positions. Yet, how much do we adjust for this? Is it not possible that you can be the best catcher ever, yet not be as valuable as the 20th best first baseman ever careerwise?
                          I have Carter in the 70s somewhere among major league position players. I generally give catchers about a 20% bonus for time played because they have to do so much on off days, and in game preparation whether they play or not.

                          So if Carter is in the 70s with a 115 OPS+ with about 2300 games and another 400 worth for wear and tear that has him with really outstanding longevity (equivalent to about 2700 games) at the toughest position and playing it well. He didn't steal bases, nor was he adept at taking too many bases on the hits of others which hurts him compared to other players but if a true gold glove second baseman had a 115 OPS+ for 2700 games, he would be inside the top 100.

                          Lou Whitaker generally gets ranked in the 100-110 range around here-at least by the stat folks-and he had a 116 OPS+ with about 2400 games, and was not as good a second baseman as Carter was a catcher (though he WAS good and ran the bases better in all phases).

                          So if Carter is a legit low 70s is Bench that much better to be top 25. Yes. Bench had a 126 OPS+ to Carter's 115 which is pretty significant though he played less. I have him equivalent to about 2500 games. Plus while Carter was an all time great defensive catcher, Bench's arm was probably the best ever. Find a second baseman with a 126 OPS+ with 2500 games.

                          Gehringer is a little below that standard, 2300+ with 124. Gehringer surely ran the bases much better, and was at least on reputation as good a second baseman as Bench was a catcher. I still rate catcher's defense a little higher than second base though but this is the big question as some evaluations have the actual defensive value of a catcher lower down on the scale. It might not be fair to rate catcher as the most important position AND to give a longevity/playing time bonus at the same time. That being said, I think that I probably rank Gehringer a little too low and Bench too high. I had bench as high as 16 and Gehringer maybe 45th, but maybe it should be more like 25 and 35-40. Bench does get a little added boost for me though because his peak was huge-especially before the surgery. I think he gets overrate because people don't always consider that catchers are usually the least adept at garnering extra bases with their legs. We just kind of throw everyone in the same pot there, but a good baserunning second baseman may be worth around 120 extra runs, or 300 extra bases taken on a slow footed catcher over a 15 year career.

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