Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Catcher Project: Bill Dickey

Born: 6-6-07
Career: 1928-1946
Hall of Fame: Yes
Career highlights: Eleven All-Star teams. Runner-up once in MVP voting, top ten five times. Regular catcher for eight World Series teams, winning seven titles. Had four consecutive seasons of at least .300 average, 20 homers, 100 RBI for the greatest Yankee dynasty, 1936-39. Set a record by catching at least 100 games a year for 13 straight seasons.
Career slash line: .313/.382/.486

Games caught after age 30 season: 648. Age in last season as regular catcher: 34. Win shares after age 30 season: 120. Win shares after age 33 season: 53

An interesting career pattern — a Mauer-esque left-handed singles hitter the first half of his career, then a power spike from age 29-33, then a decline. The conventional explanation is that he learned to pull the ball into Yankee Stadium's short right-field porch.

Like contemporaries Mickey Cochrane and Gabby Hartnett, Dickey didn't carry the workloads that their modern counterparts frequently do. Dickey had just one season of 130 games caught and was frequently under 110. The difference is probably a combination of better protective gear today and a schedule in the 1930s heavy with double-headers.

Dickey had finshed his age 34 season when Pearl Harbor was attacked. He played two more seasons as a half-time starter, missed two seasons to serve in the Navy, then played a little in 1946, when the war was over. My guess is that the war extended his career slightly.

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