Detroit Tigers All-Time Lists

Detroit Tigers: Top Ten Catchers in Franchise History

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CLEARWATER, FL - MARCH 3: Catcher Ivan Rodriguez #7 of the Detroit Tigers waits for a pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies during MLB Spring Training action at the Bright House Networks Field on March 3, 2005 in Clearwater, Florida. Detroit Tigers defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 9-1. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
CLEARWATER, FL - MARCH 3: Catcher Ivan Rodriguez #7 of the Detroit Tigers waits for a pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies during MLB Spring Training action at the Bright House Networks Field on March 3, 2005 in Clearwater, Florida. Detroit Tigers defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 9-1. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Tigers
DETROIT, MI – OCTOBER 18: A detail of a Detroit Tigers hat with an official postseason logo is seen on the bat rack in the udgout againstthe New York Yankees during game four of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park on October 18, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

Johnny Bassler

Detroit Tigers: 1921-1927

One of the most forgotten Tigers stars, Bassler finished in the top seven in MVP voting three times in his nine-year career. Bassler originally made his big league debut with the Cleveland Indians in 1913 as an 18-year-old. He played in one game in 1913 and 43 games in 1914, before taking seven(!) years off from the big leagues.

He resurfaced with Detroit in 1921, slashing .307/.401/.379 with a 101 OPS+.

1922-1924 was an excellent three-year stretch for Bassler. During those three seasons, he finished sixth, seventh and fifth in MVP voting, respectively. Although he had virtually no power (1 career home run) he managed an .801 OPS in those three years. He also slashed a robust .322/.426/.376 with a stellar 112 OPS+.

Although he wasn’t in MVP consideration from 1925-1927, Bassler still posted strong numbers. He was a starter in 1925 and a part-time player in his final two years. Across 268 games in those three years, Bassler slashed .287/.420/.345.

Bassler finished his Tigers career having caught 729 games. He posted a 19.5 bWAR, third all-time among Tigers catchers (in a Detroit uniform).

His career .416 on-base percentage is second all-time among catchers, behind the great Mickey Cochrane. So the two most prolific on-base machines behind the plate both played in the Motor City.

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