All-Time Best Phillies: Catcher

May 5, 2017 12:37 am0 commentsViews: 138
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MikeLieberthal

In what is really a three-way tie with Bob Boone and Carlos Ruiz, Mike Lieberthal earns the distinction of greatest Phillies catcher. Perhaps the only knock against “Lieby” was that he played for the Phillies from 1994 to 2006, an era bookended by the 1993 National league champion Phillies and the 2007 playoff team that rolled to five division titles in a row.

Lieberthal (shown here in his 2001 Fleer baseball card) holds the team record for RBIs for a catcher with 609, and home runs with 150. In 1999 he became the 2nd Phillies catcher to become an All-Star. That year, he also won the Gold Glove award with a sterling .997 fielding percentage. He became only the 4th catcher to hit 30 homers in the same year that he won the Gold Glove. (Can you name the other 3? Scroll down for the answers.)

After missing most of 2001 with injuries, Lieby rallied in 2002 to become the only catcher to win The Sporting News comeback player of the year award. He is the all-time Phillies leader in games played as a catcher. He also has the 2nd highest amount of ‘hit by pitches’ as a Phillie. (Can you name the leader? Scroll down for the answer.)

Bob Boone was well on his way to being the greatest Phillies catcher until he was traded to the Angels, where he won three gold gloves in addition to the one he won as a Phillie. “Chooch” Ruiz played in 5 playoff seasons and caught 4 no-hitters but his numbers fall short of Lieberthal’s.

And finally, what puts the icing on the cake for Mike Lieberthal’s crowning as the Greatest Phillies catcher is that it is his bobble-head doll that appears in many scenes on Michael’s desk in the television show “The Office.”

Becoming a free agent after the 2006 season and feeling the presence of a younger Carlos Ruiz on the roster, Lieby became a free agent and signed with the Dodgers. He played one year in L.A. as a back-up and in 2008 signed a one-day contract with Philadelphia so he could retire as a Phillie.

He resides in his birth-state of California with his wife Kelly Culbert. ■

—George Porgeman / Yardley

This article is the fourth in a series of All-Time Best Phillies at every position.

 

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The other 3 catchers were Johnny Bench, Lance Parrish, Ivan Rodriguez.

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Chase Utley

 

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