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Johnny Bench might be the greatest catcher in baseball history.
Consider the resume: Hall of Famer, two-time National League MVP, 14-time NL All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove winner, the 1968 NL Rookie of the Year, two-time World Series champion and the 1976 World Series MVP. Bench, whom I sadly remember more from hosting “The Baseball Bunch” than for being a key cog in the Big Red Machine, hit 389 home runs and slashed .267/.342/.476 in his 17-year career with the Reds. His 75.1 WAR is the highest among all catchers in baseball history, according to Baseball Reference.
So, it was interesting last week to hear Bench gush about Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto, whom he considers the best catcher in baseball today.
“J.T. does so many good things, bats in the middle of the lineup, does what he has to do every day, but the durability, you also have to go with durability,” Bench said. “He caught 1,100 innings or something like that, that’s phenomenal. To try to see a guy catch 100 games, to think I caught 13 consecutive years of 100 games or more, you really didn’t have a day off.”
Realmuto caught 1,131 2/3 innings in the regular season last year, 127 2/3 more than second-ranked Sean Murphy.
Realmuto caught 1,281 1/3 innings overall, including the postseason. Only two catchers have caught more innings than that in the past 14 years: Salvador Perez (1,389 2/3 innings in 2014, and 1,334 1/3 innings in 2015) and Yadier Molina (1,309 innings in 2011).
Realmuto’s 29.7 career WAR ranks 38th all time among catchers. He averaged 4.7 WAR over the past five non-pandemic shortened seasons. If Realmuto, 31, maintains that level of production over the next five seasons -- it’s an "if" considering Realmuto’s age and the wear and tear at that position -- he would have 53.1 WAR. The average Hall of Fame catcher has 53.7 WAR.
MLB Network recently ranked its top 10 players at every position. Six Phillies made those lists:
• Realmuto, No. 1 (catcher)
• Zack Wheeler, No. 8 (starting pitchers)
• Trea Turner, No. 1 (shortstops)
• Rhys Hoskins, No. 10 (first basemen)
• Bryce Harper, No. 3 (right fielders)
• Kyle Schwarber, No. 3 (left fielders)
What catcher caught the most innings in a regular season in Phillies history?
A) Bo Díaz
B) Bob Boone
C) Darren Daulton
D) Mike Lieberthal
Before Jason and Travis Kelce become the first brothers to play each other in the Super Bowl, Aaron and Austin Nola became the first brothers to face each other as pitcher and batter in MLB postseason history. I recently spoke to Aaron, Austin and their father A.J. about the experience.
Was it fun at the time?
“No, no, no,” A.J. Nola said. “What it meant to each city, I was feeling that pressure for Aaron and the Phillies, and I was feeling that pressure for Austin and the Padres. What it meant to each of these cities … it pressured me, man.”
Aaron and Austin said the NLCS didn’t come up much during the holidays, although there was no avoiding it when “Dancing On My Own” played during Aaron’s wedding this offseason. Austin said he couldn’t get far enough away from the dance floor.
Plenty of brothers have played in the big leagues. More than a few have played for the Phillies.
Here is a list of Phillies players who had a brother who also played in the big leagues (brother’s first name in parenthesis):
• Aaron Nola, 2015-22 (Austin)
• Nick Maton, 2021-22 (Phil)
• Tim Worrell, 2004-05 (Todd)
• Jeremy Giambi, 2002 (Jason)
• Mark Leiter, 1997-98 (Al)
• Juan Bell, 1992-93 (George)
• Mike Maddux, 1986-89 (Greg)
• Rich Surhoff, 1985 (B.J.)
• Ken Brett, 1973 (George)
• Frank Torre, 1962-63 (Joe)
• Vince DiMaggio, 1945-46 (Joe and Dom)
• Bill Hubbell, 1920-25 (Carl)
• Harry Coveleski, 1907-09 (Stan)
Greg Maddux, George Brett, Joe Torre, Carl Hubbell and Stan Coveleski are in the Hall of Fame (Torre as a manager). Five sets of brothers actually played together during the same Phillies season. Read about them here.
C) Darren Daulton
Dutch caught 1,278 innings during the 1993 season, which ranks 25th since at least 1901, according to Stats Inc. Including the ‘93 postseason, Daulton caught 1,384 1/3 innings in 1993, which ranks third all time.
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