Worst Catcher in Recent Sox History

Worst Catcher in Recent Sox History?

  • Sandy Leon

    Votes: 9 5.5%
  • Kevin Cash

    Votes: 9 5.5%
  • John Marzano

    Votes: 1 0.6%
  • Marc Sullivan

    Votes: 46 28.2%
  • Ryan Lavarnway

    Votes: 5 3.1%
  • Danny Sheaffer

    Votes: 1 0.6%
  • The corpse of Tony Pena

    Votes: 4 2.5%
  • The corpse of Javy Lopez

    Votes: 29 17.8%
  • Other (Describe Below)

    Votes: 10 6.1%
  • AJ Pierzynski

    Votes: 49 30.1%

  • Total voters
    163

DanoooME

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Mar 16, 2008
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I'm hearing a lot of complaints about Sandy Leon and comparisons to Kevin Cash, which leads to the inevitable question: Who IS the worst?
 
Sandy Leon - Only the 9th worst OPS+ (so far) for Sox catchers since 1961 with at least 50 PAs, but excreable defense on top of it.
Kevin Cash - Put up an OPS+ of 3 in 2010 and wasn't much better otherwise.
John Marzano - 1st round bust and had the 2nd worst OPS+ in team history at -20 in 1992
Danny Sheaffer - Only played 1 season with the Sox and his OPS+ is the worst ever at -22.  He managed to put up a -33 two years later for the Indians.
Marc Sullivan - Nepotism at its finest
Ryan Lavarnway - 8th worst OPS+ in 2012 and was a catcher in that he put on the gear and squatted back there 
Tony Pena - Started out sucky and gradually got worse
Javy Lopez - Why did they pick him up again?
 
Swihart's OPS+ is only 28th worst so far (54), so he's got a ways to go to be the worst 1st round draft pick catcher in Sox history.
 
If I missed someone, please detail it below.
 
Edited to add AJP
 

drleather2001

given himself a skunk spot
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Jul 18, 2005
25,720
Javy Lopez was a desperation move and while he only played 18 games...
 
His OPS+ in those games was 22, and his arrival coincided with the beginning of the 2006 season spiraling completely down the toilet.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

has fancy plans, and pants to match
Dope
Apr 12, 2001
20,557
John Marzano - 1st round bust and had the 2nd worst OPS+ in team history at -20 in 1992
 
 
HOW DARE YOU? He's an Olympic Hero! AND DEAD!
 
I will await your apology in the form of one mint 1985 Topps Olympic baseball card set. Please deliver to:
 
SoSH Headquarters
C/O John Marzano Olympic Hero
9184 Lanterjaw Rd. 
Armastown, WY 27146
 

rembrat

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May 26, 2006
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Sandy Leon has thrown out 5 out 9 would be base stealers and Buchholz seems to love pitching to him.
 
Kevin Cash was fucking terrible at everything.
 

AZ09

lurker
May 28, 2015
177
Clearwater, FL
I voted Marc Sullivan. The only reason we drafted him was because he was Haywood's son.
 
Even his minor league stats are an epic 10 year career of suck.
 

DanoooME

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Mar 16, 2008
16,295
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AimingForYoko said:
But where is AJP?
 
 
BlackJack said:
The conversation starts and ends with A.J. Pierzynski.
 
Damn, I knew I forgot someone.  And I was doing so well at shutting him out of my mind.  Poll updated.
 
John Marzano Olympic Hero said:
 
HOW DARE YOU? He's an Olympic Hero! AND DEAD!
 
I will await your apology in the form of one mint 1985 Topps Olympic baseball card set. Please deliver to:
 
SoSH Headquarters
C/O John Marzano Olympic Hero
9184 Lanterjaw Rd. 
Armastown, WY 27146
 
How many do you want?  I've got some and a friend has tons of them.
 
And it's not my fault he's in rarefied air with a negative OPS+
 

AimingForYoko

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Apr 23, 2010
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Damn. I already voted for other.

I understand why one would say Cash as he was genuinely the worst hitter I've ever personally laid eyes on. But fuck AJP and his couch.
 

tims4wins

PN23's replacement
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Jul 15, 2005
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Hingham, MA
AimingForYoko said:
Damn. I already voted for other.

I understand why one would say Cash as he was genuinely the worst hitter I've ever personally laid eyes on. But fuck AJP and his couch.
 
I think this is exaggeration. His 2008 was bad - there is no arguing that. But he did get on base at a .309 clip that year. That is not stupidly bad. He had a .647 OPS that year. I know the offensive environment has changed, but X had a .660 OPS last year, with a .297 OBP.
 

RIFan

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Jul 19, 2005
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Fred Kendall with his wRC+ of 4 in 1978. They wasted a roster spot on a 3rd string catcher, but at least they has someone to carry Eck's bags from the airport.
 

radsoxfan

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Aug 9, 2009
8,805
No Guru No Method said:
 
Sullivan, and I will not even debate it.
.186 .236 .258
 
 
Not to start a debate…. but Leon this year is .167/.254/.183. Good for a wRC+ of 19.
 
And those stats are inflated by last game's bizarre IBB and flair single. 
 
I voted Leon. Though FWIW, I'm sure recency bias played a role. 
 

Seels

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Jul 20, 2005
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AJ P never made sense as a signing, not for a single second. A lot of those guys are 2nd or 3rd string guys that got thrown into a starting role, or guys that had a very limited appearance here. AJ was signed to be a starter and was awful.
 

ifmanis5

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Sep 29, 2007
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drleather2001 said:
Javy Lopez was a desperation move and while he only played 18 games...
 
His OPS+ in those games was 22, and his arrival coincided with the beginning of the 2006 season spiraling completely down the toilet.
Can't believe this was 10 years ago.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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Jul 10, 2007
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The wrong side of the bridge....
I'm curious about the "execrable defense" comment for Leon. My impression is that he's been framing well, and he's certainly been throwing out runners. Are you basing this on numbers or the eye test?
 
Much as my sentiment wanted to vote for AJP, I had to give the nod to Lavarnway. His contribution to the Sox in the end could be best summed up by the Roches:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rbb5mSomdV8
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Apr 12, 2001
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Dave Sax was pretty terrible but he only played in 28 games over three seasons. But man, Marc Sullivan sucked. The worst part of collusion was:
 
A. The Sox didn't sign Gedman and weren't able to until May 1, which meant Marc Sullivan had to be the starting catcher for the first month of the 1987 season. An entire month of that jackass. 
B. By the time Gedman did comeback his timing was off so bad that it effectively destroyed the rest of his career. He never played the same after that offseason. 
 
You knew you weren't going to sign Rich Gedman, how could your back up plan be: well, we'll go with Marc Sullivan for a bit and see where that takes us. As inept as the Boston Red Sox are right now, they will never reach the depths of idiocy as the 80s Red Sox. 
 
As far as Danny Sheaffer, in Spring Training of 1987 or 1988 Sheaffer won a game with a walk-off dinger. Since the 6:00 news was THE place to go for sports highlights I watched that evening as Mike Dowling or Mike Lynch proclaimed Boston, "Sheaffer City" and it filled an 11 (or 12)-year-old JMOH with a lot of excitement for the Red Sox future. And puns. Boy, did I love that particular pun. 
 

Sprowl

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Jun 27, 2006
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DanoooME said:
I'm hearing a lot of complaints about Sandy Leon and comparisons to Kevin Cash, which leads to the inevitable question: Who IS the worst?

Marc Sullivan - Nepotism at its finest
 
The sins of the father shall be visited upon the son. Haywood sucked as a GM, and that's bad enough for me.
 

PaulinMyrBch

Don't touch his dog food
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MYRTLE BEACH!!!!
I once had a girlfriend tell me that your brain doesn't remember pain over a long period of time, she did this just after having a screaming orgasm and digging her fingernails into my back. That much I do remember. But now that I think about it, she might have been talking about catchers OPS+. 
 
In that case, its Leon. Call it the Desiree effect. 
 

Tyrone Biggums

nfl meets tri-annually at a secret country mansion
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Aug 15, 2006
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Sprowl said:
 
The sins of the father shall be visited upon the son. Haywood sucked as a GM, and that's bad enough for me.
Yeah I couldn't get past this either. I watched the ESPN Classic thing on Fisk today so maybe my anger seeing him in a White Sox uniform clouds my judgment.
 

SumnerH

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Jul 18, 2005
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Coachster said:
No hate for Kelly Shoppach? No offense and a major dick-head in the clubhouse.
The only year he had double-digit ABs he was an above-average hitter for the Sox (2012: .798 OPS, 113 OPS+).
 

Coachster

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SumnerH said:
The only year he had double-digit ABs he was an above-average hitter for the Sox (2012: .798 OPS, 113 OPS+).
I just looked that up. You are right. Imagine what a mother-fucker he was to be traded for a bag of balls (actually Pedro Beato) when he was actually producing.
 

Montana Fan

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I was thinking this morning about how much the Sox miss a catcher like Varitek. This subject shines more light on that for me.


And Leather, the one that got me was that Manny DelCarmen was cut recently and hadn't pitched in the majors since 2010.
 
Nov 24, 2007
214
PBO NC
Coachster said:
I don't get it. We all know what a disaster Bobby V was. But Shoppach is a dickhead in the clubhouse for texting ownership about it? On an influential teammate's phone, with that teammate's consent? To me a dickhead in the clubhouse is someone who is selfish and divisive. I'd say the guy leading the mutiny against Bobby V was a f'in hero.
 

Andrew

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Jan 20, 2006
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drleather2001 said:
Javy Lopez was a desperation move and while he only played 18 games...
 
His OPS+ in those games was 22, and his arrival coincided with the beginning of the 2006 season spiraling completely down the toilet.
 
And we had Javy Lopez (pitcher) on the roster yet at no point did we have a Javy Lopez/Javy Lopez battery. It was bullshit.
 
AJP was still worse though.
 

Rough Carrigan

reasons within Reason
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sackamano said:
Salty, in terms of defensive prowess.
God, yes.  Salty stabbed at the ball even if it was right at his glove.  He made every pitch look worse. 
When pitch framing first became a recognized thing, Baseball Prospectus had a piece looking at one of the Molina brothers and how good he was at it.  They identified a few core traits to getting more calls.  A lack of movement by the catcher, especially his head were primary.  I forget the other things that catchers were supposed to do to get more calls but Salty didn't do any of them.
And he had one swing, intended to hit the ball 700 feet every time.  And he very seldom walked. 
 

rlsb

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Aug 2, 2010
1,337
Sprowl said:
 
The sins of the father shall be visited upon the son. Haywood sucked as a GM, and that's bad enough for me.
Combined OPS for father (.471) and son (.494) for the Red Sox was .965.  Mortal sins indeed.
 

ToeKneeArmAss

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Rough Carrigan said:
God, yes.  Salty stabbed at the ball even if it was right at his glove.  He made every pitch look worse. 
When pitch framing first became a recognized thing, Baseball Prospectus had a piece looking at one of the Molina brothers and how good he was at it.  They identified a few core traits to getting more calls.  A lack of movement by the catcher, especially his head were primary.  I forget the other things that catchers were supposed to do to get more calls but Salty didn't do any of them.
And he had one swing, intended to hit the ball 700 feet every time.  And he very seldom walked. 
Piling on, one could argue (and I have) that Salty's defense cost the Red Sox two consecutive WS games - game 2 where his pointless stretch led to Breslow's overthrow, and game 3 where his poor throw created the infamous obstruction call.

Few players in history (nevermind just Red Sox catchers) have done more to imperil a championship.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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Jul 10, 2007
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The wrong side of the bridge....
Rough Carrigan said:
God, yes.  Salty stabbed at the ball even if it was right at his glove.  He made every pitch look worse. 
When pitch framing first became a recognized thing, Baseball Prospectus had a piece looking at one of the Molina brothers and how good he was at it.  They identified a few core traits to getting more calls.  A lack of movement by the catcher, especially his head were primary.  I forget the other things that catchers were supposed to do to get more calls but Salty didn't do any of them.
And he had one swing, intended to hit the ball 700 feet every time.  And he very seldom walked. 
 
Salty had an above-league-average BB rate in three of his four years with the Sox. His career rate is 9.1%. And he was actually a solid-average hitter overall (103 OPS+) in his four years with us.
 
Yes, his defense was awful, but as catchers go he was actually a pretty good offensive player, albeit an often infuriating one.
 

Savin Hillbilly

loves the secret sauce
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Jul 10, 2007
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The wrong side of the bridge....
Speaking of WAR, just for giggles I went and searched on all Sox catchers from 1981 to the present with > 100 PA and ranked them by fWAR. Of course WAR for catchers needs even more asterisks than WAR for everybody else, but still this is pretty much the group we expected it to be, and my boy Big Nuthin' tops the list:
 
Sox Catchers with 0 or Negative fWAR in >100 PA, 1981-2015:
 
-1.2  Ryan Lavarnway 
-1.0  Marc Sullivan
-1.0  Kevin Cash
-0.8  Bob Melvin
-0.4 John Flaherty
-0.2 A.J. Pierzynski
-0.2 Jeff Newman
 0.0  John Marzano
 0.0  Damon Berryhill
 
If we take defense out of the equation and just rank Sox catchers with >100 PA by worst wRC+, here's the list of guys under 70:
 
18  Flaherty
30  Sullivan
43  Cash
44  Melvin
48  Newman
49  Lavarnway
57  Swihart
57  Marzano
63  Pena
 
Still pretty astonishing that the Sox sent Pena to the plate 1849 times. 
 

iayork

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Apr 6, 2006
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Savin Hillbilly said:
 
Salty had an above-league-average BB rate in three of his four years with the Sox. His career rate is 9.1%. And he was actually a solid-average hitter overall (103 OPS+) in his four years with us.
 
Yes, his defense was awful, but as catchers go he was actually a pretty good offensive player, albeit an often infuriating one.
Salty's framing history is really weird.  When I was looking at Red Sox catcher framing I found that Salty had one really good year as a framer, 2011, when the strikes he gained at the top of the zone far outweighed those he lost at the bottom.  
 

In this chart regions where Salty got more strike calls than the average catcher are in red, those where he got less are in blue (more info at the link above).  He was well above average that year, dropped back to average the following year, and became just about the worst in the league after he left the Sox.  
 
I have no idea why or what happened in that year.  It seems to be about the time the Sox were apparently becoming intensely interested in framing as a skill, and I wonder if they actually figured a way to teach it; though in that case why he lost it in following years is even more mysterious.  
 
Anyway, that year Salty was a significant contributor framing-wise, and was about league-average offensively (OPS+ of 95) so I don't think he's in the same category as some of the other sad sacks in the poll.