Introducing... Ted Simmons
Drafted in the first round by the St Louis Cardinals in 1967 (10th overall)
Major league debut, 1968, age 19
Appeared in 2456 major league games, 1771 as a catcher
Named to 8 All-Star teams, won 1 Silver Slugger, appeared in 1 World Series
Mr Simmons is not currently a member of baseball's Hall of Fame.
Introducing... Gary Carter
Drafted in the third round by the Montreal Expos in 1972
Major league debut, 1974, age 20
Appeared in 2296 major league games, 2056 as a catcher
Named to 11 All-Star teams, won 5 Silver Sluggers, won 3 Gold Gloves, appeared in 1 World Series
Mr Carter was elected to baseball's Hall of Fame in 2003
Greetings, and welcome to the first in a new series, please tell me- Who's the Man?
This matchup features two elite catchers from the 1970s and 80s, both reached the major leagues very quickly, both reached the World Series, only one of them won a championship. Both of these players made multiple All-Star teams, one was awarded multiple Gold Gloves, the other won none.
This one sounds easy right? It's Carter, he hit more home runs, he won Gold Gloves, and he played on a Series winner, Gary Carter is the man.
Or maybe it's another case of the man keeping us down- it's Simmons, the most underappreciated great catcher ever, he hit for a higher average, got more hits and drove in more runs, tell the media to stuff it, Simmons is the man.
.In Carter's case, he was certainly considered the better defender of the two, Gold Gloves don't move me much as there is no criteria for selection, but there is no question that he had the better throwing arm of the two men, and he was outstanding when it came to blocking the plate. Carter also did indeed have more home run power, retiring with 324 roundtrippers.
In Simmons' case, he was clearly the more skilled hitter, batting over .300 seven times in his career, finishing with a career average of .285. On the bases, Simmons was considered the best sign stealer of his generation. Simmons was also a switch hitter.
What do the numbers tell us in this case?
The first thing that should be noted is, Simmons played in 160 more games than Carter did, roughly one extra season. It should also be pointed out that Simmons used the DH to his advantage, playing 279 games at that position- even though the two men were catchers from the same era, there are some differences. These factors would seem to favor Carter, who gets credit for having played catcher in 285 more games than Simmons did.
Advantage Carter- additional play at the catcher position, 76 more home runs, within 49 runs of Simmons in one less season of play, and for what it's worth in this case, nearly doubled Simmons in stolen bases.
Advantage Simmons- Time spent at DH, and time spent as a reserve player late in his career led to an edge of 160 games played, which partially explains the difference of 709 at bats. Simmons has a massive lead in base hits, and doubles, 50% more triples, 164 more RBI, a batting average 23 points higher, and an edge of .13 in OBP.
This brings us to slugging percentage, where perception divorces reality. Ted Simmons had a career slugging percentage just two points lower than Gary Carter did. What percentage of knowledgeable baseball fans do you think would guess that? Home runs got Carter a lot more attention as a slugger, but they shouldn't have.
So then, the second half of the equation is, Ted Simmons had a career OPS 11 points higher than Gary Carter had.
Surprised? I know I was, I had no idea that was the case.
The purpose of this article is not for me to choose between these players for you, but rather for you to consider the facts and choose for yourself. At this point I'll stop and leave you to make your individual decisions, but once you have, please visit the fan forum and tell me... "Who's the Man?"