Chooch's Historical Greatness

Happiness is historical greatness. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Do you realize how good a season Carlos Ruiz is having? I mean, do you really appreciate it? Because I'm guessing that you, like me before today, thought he was having an excellent season, but had no idea he was having a historically excellent season.

Let's start with the basics:

Stat # ML Rank NL Rank
BA 0.361 1 1
OBP 0.427 3 3
SLG 0.579 8 5
OPS 1.006 4 2
fWAR 3.8 5 5
wOBA 0.428 2 2
OPS+ 171 4 3

I want you to take a step back here and look at that chart again. This is a Phillie we're talking about but it's not Chase Utley. Not Ryan Howard. Not Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, or Hunter Pence. Carlos Ruiz. He's got the highest batting average in baseball. His on-base plus slugging trails only Joey Votto in the NL and Josh Hamilton and David Ortiz in the AL. His wOBA is behind only Votto. His OPS+ surpasses everyone except Votto and David Wright in the NL.

Carlos Ruiz.

It's amazing, and something no one could have ever predicted.

But here's where it gets even better - looking at history. Why? Because our beloved Chooch is on pace to put up numbers that rank with the best seasons by a catcher over the past 30 years. Chooch's almost-midpoint WAR is 3.8. If we assume he keeps up this pace through the end of the year, he'll finish with just under 8 WAR. Only four catchers in the past 30 years have put up seasons of about 8 WAR or higher:

Catcher Year Age WAR
Mike Piazza 1997 28 9.4
Gary Carter 1982 28 8.3
Joe Mauer 2009 26 7.9

That's some pretty good company Chooch would be keeping. It's also some pretty young company. At this pace, Chooch would be putting up numbers at age 33 that only three others have put up in the last 30 years -- all in their prime late 20s.

In fact, if the season ended today, only 3 catchers ever in the history of baseball would have had better age-33 seasons than Chooch's stats halfway through this year:

Catcher Year Age WAR
Roy Campanella 1955 33 6.4
Elston Howard 1962 33 4.8
Javy Lopez 2004 33 4.6

(As an aside, not being an expert on Yankees history, I had never heard of Elston Howard before, but he's actually a very interesting comparison for Chooch. This chart shows their career progression. Shift either line so their start age is the same and you get pretty similar trajectories.)

Chooch has been spectacular this season - among the best in baseball. But, he's been even better than that. What we are witnessing is historical greatness from a catcher.


And vote.

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