Who Was the Best Throwing Dodger Catcher?

With the cold winds blowing in many parts of the country, Dodger fans huddle around their personal hot stove and discuss a great many things. And with rookie Russ Martin winning his first of perhaps many gold gloves in 2007, 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 great-grandfather who was also a Dodger fan (naturally), were still around he might bring up Bill Began, who caught 1904-1911 in Brooklyn and after eight seasons and almost 2200 times at bat, left a microscopic .162 career batting average, one home run and 121 runs batted in on his sheet in the record book.

However, he was apparently such a superior catcher that they could put up with his inability hit. He did throw out seven runners attempting to steal in one game. In the single season we have a complete record, he nailed 67 of 167 runners (.401) -- and it was in his final Major League season before he retired.

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 after 1947.

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 who has the percentage record for runners turned away?

Well, look no further than John Roseboro. 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 1953, 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 Los Angeles caught-stealing lists, including the top three, posting an all-time .604 percentage in 1964 and nailing .595 percent in 1959 and .562 percent in 1962.

Steve Yeager is third at .512 and sixth at .509; Rick Dempsey fourth wih a .490 in 1989 and Tom Haller fifth with a .478 percentage of runners thrown out in 1958.

But wait, Roseboro may have the best percentage of throwing out runners but Steve Yeager and Mike Scioscia each threw out over 100 more during their careers, showing how remarkable the Dodgers' catchers have been over their time in Los Angeles.

And thinking back to the Brooklyn era, Roy 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.

Brooklyn 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 stolen base attempts and a glistening .583 percentage.

A strong case could be made for Roseboro, Yeager and Sciosica and until the Retrosheet researchers work their way back into the 1940 and early 1950s to find Campanella's missing numbers, we have to give the statistical nod to Roseboro, knowing in the back of our mind that Campy's numbers must have been even more spectacular.

 L.A. Top 20 Caught Stealing 
  (min: 19 cs)

 LA Single Season Percentages
pct      			cs-att          year
.604—John Roseboro		29- 48		1964
.595—John Roseboro		25- 42		1959
.512—Steve Yeager		22- 43		1985
.490—Rick Dempsey		25- 51		1989
.478—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

.443—Alex Traviño		31- 70		1986
.441—John Roseboro		26- 59		1965
.438—Steve Yeager		49-112	        1983
.435—Charles Johnson	        30- 69		1998
.431—Steve Yeager		28- 65		1982

.431—Jack Fimple		28- 65		1983
.429—John Roseboro		27- 63 		1963
.425—John Roseboro		31- 73		1966
.414—Mike Scioscia		55-133		1990
.409—Steve Yeager		38- 93		1979

.407—Paul Lo Duca		57-140		2003
.404—Steve Yeager		36- 89		1976

 Brooklyn Single Season Percentages
 pct				att-cs		year
.688—Roy Campanella		22- 32		1949
.608—Roy Campanella		23- 38		1948
.677—Roy Campanella		30- 45		1951
.537—Roy Campanella		22- 41		1953
.537—Roy Campanella		22- 41		1954
.523—Roy Campanella		23- 44		1955
.455—Roy Campanella		20- 44		1956
.443—Otto Miller		57-132		1921
.417—Ernie Krueger		20- 48		1921
.401—Bill Bergan		67-167		1911
.354—Hank DeBerry		28- 79		1922

 LA Career Caught Stealing Pct
    (200 attempts)
pct			 att
.453 - John Roseboro 	 (250-552)
.377 - Steve Yeager	 (364-966)
.350 - Paul Lo Duca	 (187-534)
.344 - Mike Scioscia 	 (350-1452)
.318 - Tom Haller	 (107-337)
.302 - Joe Ferguson	 (148-490)
.301 - Russell Martin	 (96-319)
.258 - Mike Piazza 	 (207-803)
.234 - Todd Hundley	 (56-239)
   Incomplete
.581—Roy Campanella	(100-172)
Career Records
The all-time caught stealing-mark is 67 by Bill Bergan in 1911. The Los Angeles record is 59, set by rookie Mike Piazza in 1993, a total that led the league as did the 167 attempted steals. The .353 percentage Piazza recorded would be his best percentage as a Dodger. 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 generally indicates the catchers that were run on the most.

 Single season caught stealing
CS					 att
59 - Mike Piazza, 1993			(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)
The information used here was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by Retrosheet. Interested parties may contact Retrosheet at "www.retrosheet.org".

Martin 10th in N.L.
in 2008, Russell Martin finished 10th in the National League, throwing out 23 of 93 runners. In 2007, he had finished fourth in the National League, nailing 33 of 115, and led the N.L. West.

2008 N.L. Stolen Base Percentages
pct	                       (att-cs)
.427 Jason Kendall, Mil	        (96-41)
.346 Yadier Molina, St.L	(52-18)
.343 Bengie Molina, SF	        (104-36)
.333 Brian Schnedier, Wash	(63-21)
.310 Chris Snyder, Az	        (71-22)

.286 Paul Bako, Cin	        (77-22)
.269 Ryan Doumit,  Pitt	        (93-25)
.266 Jesus Flores, Wash	        (64-17)
.266 Geovany Soto, Chicago	(94-25)
.247 Russell Martin, LA	        (93-23)

.236 Carlos Ruiz, Phil	        (85-20)
.226 Chris Iannetta, Colo	(53-12)
.228 Chris Coste, Phil	        (57-13)

 Other Dodgers
1.000 Gary Bennett, LA	 (2-0)
 .231 Danny Ardoin, LA	(13-3)

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