Several of these guys are from the early age of the game. Bresnahan and Ewing, in particular, finished their careers before the 1920’s. Then there’s the fact that the stats for the negro league players are incomplete, so it’s hard to compare Molina to them. Finally, if we’re going to do this, we need to be able to compare the defensive value of all of these catchers, as Molina is known for his defense, and for that, we’ll use gold gloves. In a later post perhaps i’ll scour the dWar database on the pre-1958 HOF Catchers and see where they rank.
So that leaves the following catchers who started their careers after 1958: Gary Carter, Johnny Bench and Carlton Fisk. All 3 have WAR above 68, but only Bench has more Gold Gloves. I think it’ll take Molina getting 10 or so Gold Gloves and 40 plus WAR to merit consideration.
Then there’s what I call the Ozzie Smith factor: Molina is becoming a bit of a Folk Legend for his pitcher management skills, like Smith was for his defense. Joe Posnaski wrote about Smith “Late at night, in dark bars, baseball players sit over empty beer bottles and tell the stories of the hits Ozzie Smith stole from them” Well, the same thing could be said about the performances Molina gets out of his pitchers. Nobody shakes him off (well, except Shelby Miller, who acts like a stubborn teenager sometimes, and has notably dropped off this year) and he’s constantly going to the mound to coach his pitchers when they need it. He’s a pitching coach who wears a catchers mask. So I can see some players sitting around a table, grumbling about how Molina coaxed yet another great performance out of his pitcher against their team.
But is being a Folk Legend enough to get you into the Hall of Fame? We’ll see.