No. 121 Mickey Cochrane (Number 12 Catcher)

Mickey Cochrane was a great catcher, but his career was so short. He played only 13 years and 2 of those years were where he had a nervous breakdown the first season and received a beanball that affected his play the second season. He only played 71 games in the two seasons combined. Then he retired. Cochrane never played 140 games in a season I used to have Cochrane ahead of Bill Dickey. However, if Cochrane was greater in his prime, which I believe, it wasn’t by much. Dickey’s career was a lot longer, so he provided more value for his teams.
Baseball Reference shows Cochrane as a below average defensive catcher. However, while paying some attention to that I don’t regard it that highly. I don’t think any system can capture everything a catcher does. Also, pitchers seemed to pitch well around him, and teams played well. His teams won 5 pennants and 3 World Championships. Both were strong all around teams but were they as strong as the 1936-39 Yankees. In my opinion that Yankees team was the greatest team ever. Dickey was part of it, but he had a lot of talent around him.

Cochrane was a leader. In Philadelphia he worked around one of the most temperamental pitchers of all time, Lefty Grove. That must not have been easy. Yet he had Grove win 20 games with .700 winning percentage their last six years together. Grove never did it again, although an arm injury didn’t help. Cochrane also managed the Detroit Tigers after being traded by the Athletics. He won the pennant the first two years and a World Series the first year.

Should Cochrane get some credit for that? How much? That is the questions Sabermetrics practitioners have been trying to figure out for decades and might never figure out. Why because each catcher and pitcher are different. Cochrane might have helped one pitcher a lot. Others not so much. Some he might not been able to work with. How do you measure that? A bunch of statistics isn’t going to tell anyone. You can use the statistics to try to create a picture, but it isn’t all colored in.

It is hard to tell, but I know one thing, Mickey Cochrane was a great player for a time.

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