Counting down the top 5 best catchers in Detroit Tigers history
The Detroit Tigers have had no shortage of great players play for them over the years, and that especially rings true at the catcher position. The team has had many great backstops throughout the history of the franchise.
Today will be a fun venture into the top five best catchers in franchise history. The top three was pretty easy to narrow down, but No. 4-5 were pretty tricky.
The guidelines for this list are pretty simple. They had to have played for the Detroit Tigers for at least four seasons and their primary position had to be catcher. So for example, Brandon Inge will not be on this list despite coming up as a catcher. He later switched to third base primarily, and also played some outfield.
Before we begin, if there's anybody you feel like we missed, feel free to let us know in the comments section. I'm sure there will be lots of debate over this one. Please keep things civil, though.
With that out of the way, let us begin the top five catchers in Detroit Tigers history.
5. Alex Avila
This first one might seem a bit controversial, but hear me out. Avila, obviously the son of former Tigers GM Al Avila, made his MLB debut in 2009 and was the Tigers starting catcher from 2010-14, making the American League All-Star team in 2011. That was by far his best season, slashing .295/.389/.506 with 19 home runs and a 4.5 fWAR.
He never quite lived up to those heights again, but he was always a solid catcher who could get on base and cut down runners at a respectable rate.
He played for the Chicago White Sox in 2016 before returning a year later and having an offensive revival. He had a 125 wRC+ in 2017, the second-highest of his career. He did so well that the Tigers were able to flip him and reliever Justin Wilson as the trade deadline for INFs Jeimer Candelario and Isaac Paredes.
Avila just makes the cut here over Johnny Bassler, who played for the Tigers all the way back in the 1920s. He actually had a higher career WAR than Avila, but only hit one home run during his entire career.
That was about a century ago, and the game has obviously changed a ton since then. The competition back then was far worse than it was in the 2010s. For that reason, Avila is the fifth-best catcher in Detroit Tigers history.