Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Catcher Project: Mickey Cochrane

Born: 4-6-03
Career: 1925-1937
Hall of Fame: Yes
Career highlights: AL MVP in 1928 with Philadelphia Athletics, again in 1934 with Detroit Tigers. Led American League in on-base percentage in 1933. A regular on five World Series teams in seven years, player-manager for two of them.
Lifetime slash numbers: .320/.419/.478.

Games caught after age 30 season: 231. Age in last season as regular catcher: 32. Win Shares age 30 and up: 79. Win Shares after age 33: 5.

In many ways, Cochrane is the best comp among catchers to Joe Mauer. A left-handed hitter better known for batting average and eye at the plate than for power, he scored 200-plus more runs than he drove in.

His last season as a regular was at age 32, when he caught 110 games for the Tigers (1935). He appeared in just 44 games in 1936 and 27 in 1937.

The dropoff in playing time in 1936 came from a mental/emotional breakdown apparently brought on by the strain of being a player/manager/general manager. On May 25, 1937, he was hit in the head by a Bump Hadley fastball; the beaning was nearly fatal, and he never again took the field as a player.

Career prematurely shortened, but perhaps not because he was a catcher.

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