Who Was the Best Throwing Dodger Catcher?

With the cold winds starting to blow, Dodger fans will soon be huddled around their personal hot stove and discussing a great many things that can never be exactly determined. And with Russ Martin winning his first of perhaps many gold gloves, let us throw this into the hopper for discussion: Who was the best throwing Dodger catcher?

The older generation would quickly site Roy Campanella, who's gun of an arm could nail runners attempting larceny without getting out of his crouch.

It's hard to not agree with them but if your grandfather was also a Dodger fan, he might bring up Bill Began, who caught 1904-1911 in Brooklyn and after eight seasons and almost 2200 times at bat, left a .162 career batting average, one home run and 121 runs batted in on his sheet in the record book.

The thought is, he was such a superior catcher that they could put up with no help batting help at all. And he did throw out seven runners attempting to steal in one game.

Grandpa might also talk about Lew Ritter, Otto Miller, Hank DeBerry and Mickey Owen, throwing in Bruce Edward's name despite the sore arm that limited his play.

If you limit the discussion to Los Angeles catchers, the name of Steve Yeager is mention immediately, along with "The Rock of Chavez Ravine" Mike Sciosica.

But which one, among all the above mentioned, has thrown out the most runners stealing and has set the percentage record for runners turned away?

Well, look no further than John Roseboro, the answer to the trivia question, "Which catcher was thumped over the head with a bat by Juan Marichal in a rhubarb in San Francisco?" That's correct, of course, but he was much more than that,

Over his 11 seasons (one in Brooklyn) with the Dodgers, 1958-1967, Roseboro was well known around the National League for his strong throwing arm.

While caught-stealing records have only been kept on a steady basis since 1951, only the remarkable "Retrosheet" has searched through the records of years past to come up with catcher's caught stealing since 1957.

Their records show that Roseboro holds eight of the top 20 slots on the caught-stealing lists, including the top three, posting an all-time .604 percentage in 1964 and nailing .595% in 1959 and .562% in 1962.

However, Roy Campanella, whose stats include only the 1954 and 1957 seasons, is fourth at .537 and Steve Yeager is fifth at .512 and sixth at .509.

Campanella, who was unable to crack the major league color barrier until 1948 when he was 27 years old, still drilled over half the runners who were foolish enough to test his arm at age 33 and with battered hands and painful knees, he still threw out 15 of 36 (.417%) at age 37.

Unofficially, old Dodger yearbooks credit him with percentages of .608 (1948 - 23-38); .688 (1949 - 22-32) and .677 (1951 - 30-45). Adding the five of his 20 year career, we come up with an incredible 112 runners thrown out in 192 stole base attempts and a glistening .583 percentage.

A strong case could be made that Campanella was superior to Roseboro in cutting off runners stealing. But until the Retrosheet researchers work their way back into the 1940s, we have to give the statistical nod to Roseboro, knowing in the back of our mind that Campy's numbers must have been even glossier.
 Top 20 Caught Stealing 

 Single Season Percentages
      				cs- att         year
.604—John Roseboro		29  48		1964
.595—John Roseboro		25  42		1959
.562—John Roseboro		24  72		1962
.537—Roy Campanella		22  41		1954
.512—Steve Yeager		22  43		1985

.509—Steve Yeager		28  55		1982
.490—Rick Dempsey		25  51		1989
.479—Tom Haller			45  94		1968
.475—Chad Kreuter		19  40		2000
.467—Steve Yeager		35  75		1978

.466—John Roseboro		27  58		1961
.458—John Roseboro		27  59		1967
.452—John Roseboro		19  42		1960
.449—Alex Travino		31  69		1986
.444—Jack Fimple	        28  63		1983

.441—John Roseboro		26  59		1965
.439—Steve Yeager		36  82		1977
.438—Steve Yeager		49 112	        1983
.435—Charles Johnson	        30  69		1998
.429—John Roseboro		27  63		1963

Career Caught Stealing Pct
    (200 attempts)
pct			  att
.455 - John Roseboro 	 (554)
.404 - Steve Yeager      (866)
.361 - Paul Lo Duca      (319)
.352 - Mike Scioscia 	(1690)
.345 - Tom Haller	 (310)
.306 - Joe Ferguson	 (421)
.275 - Russell Martin	 (211)
.266 - Mike Piazza 	 (779)
.234 - Todd Hundley	 (239)
The single-season caught stealing mark is 52, set by Mike Piazza in 1992, his rookie season, when he faced 167 stolen base attempts. Mike Scioscia holds the next four spots with 55, 52. 51 and 51 runners thrown out, with runners attempting from 129 to 146 each season. By and large, this chart indicates the catcher that were run on the most.
 Single season caught stealing
				  att
59 - Mike Piazza, 1992		(167)	
55 - Mike Scioscia, 1990	(133)
52 - Mike Scioscia, 1989	(146)
51 - Mike Scioscia, 1984	(129)
51 - Mike Scioscia, 1986	(129)

49 - Steve Yeager, 1983		(112)	
47 - Mike Scioscia, 1991	(120)
45 - Tom Haller, 1968	        (94)
43 - Mike Piazza, 1996	        (156)	
43 - Mike Scioscia, 1985	(121)
43 - Mike Scioscia, 1987	(121)
43 - Mike Scioscia, 1994	(117)

42 - Paul Lo Duca, 2002	        (135)
40 - Mike Scioscia, 1982	(120)	
40 - Mike Scioscia, 1988	(121)
Martin Fourth in N.L.-- Russell Martin finished fourth in the National League, nailing 33 of 115 runners attempting to steal and led the N.L. West. Mike Liebenthal caught four of 18 (.222) but did not have enough attempts to qualify for the list.
  2007 N.L.  Stolen Base Percentages
pct	                         (att-cs)
.500 Yadier Molina, St.L 	 (46-23)
.390 David Ross, Cin	         (59-23)
.293 Brian Schnedier, Wash	 (75-22)
.287 Russell Martin, LA	        (115-33)
.282 Miguel Oliva, Fl	         (71-20)
.257 Chris Snyder, Az	         (70-18)
.250 Carlos Ruiz, Phil	         (76-19)
.243 Bengie Molina, SF	         (70-17)
.204 Ron Paulino,  Pitt	         (93-19)
.195 Brian McCain, Atl	         (87-17)
.191 Paul Lo Duca, NY	         (89-17)
.176 Yorvit Torrealba, Col       (74-13)
.161 Brad Ausmus, Hou	          (56-9)
.076 John Estrada. Mil	          (79-6)
.062 Josh Bard, SD	         (129-8)
.222 *Mike Liebenthal, LA         (18-4)
  * not qualified
The information used here was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by Retrosheet. Interested parties may contact Retrosheet at "www.retrosheet.org".

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