3rd Inning: A Modern Statistical Look at Munson’s Regular Season Career – Wins Above Replacement
From a purely statistical perspective, according to the most widely accepted regular season comprehensive modern baseball statistic, Munson produced exactly 45.6 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in the ten seasons beginning with his Rookie campaign in 1970. It may be surprising, but even though Munson lost two months of his final season due to his death, there are still only 6 Catchers in the history of baseball to produce that number over even their best 10 consecutive regular season campaigns. Their names are Gary Carter, Johnny Bench, Mike Piazza, Ivan Rodriguez, Mickey Cochrane, and Yogi Berra. This period of 10 consecutive regular seasons that Munson delivered, in terms of overall WAR productivity, has been outdone only by 6 of the best Hall of Fame Catchers in the history of baseball in their own best 10 year period!
It is worth pointing out that Munson’s WAR 7 statistic, measuring a player’s best 7 years, also ranks 7th in the history of the game at his position. But, it is more critical to point out that even with the shortened duration of his career due to his death, he still manages to rank 14th all-time in Career WAR at the Catcher position and even ranks 12th in the widely accepted JAWS metric which balances both peak years and longevity at the position.
Best CONSECUTIVE 10 Years of WAR Productivity at the Catcher Position in Baseball History
(Minimum 1,000 Games Caught) All Time
Analytical Note 1: There are 6 Catchers in the history of baseball who produced as much WAR as Munson in their own best 10 year period.
Analytical Note 2: Munson died with two months to go in the 1979 season on August 2.
Analytical Note 3: Joe Mauer accumulated 44.3 WAR between 2004 – 2013, primarily as a Catcher, but only caught 925 games and hasn’t caught a game since. Analytical Note 4: Joe Torre accumulated 41.9 WAR between 1961 – 1970, primarily as a Catcher, but only caught 903 games and never caught a game again.
Appendix One on page 19 includes an extended ranking of WAR 10 productivity by Catchers.