I wondered if I had Darrell Porter rated too high, but I looked at Bill James list of catchers from his last Historical Baseball Abstract and he has Porter at number 18. With some young catchers passing him we have Porter about the same.
I wonder if I had Porter too high, because Baseball Reference says a WAR for a season of 5.0 or higher is an all star like season. Porter had only one of those in his career in 1979. His total for that year was 7.6 which is a really great year. He not only played the most games that year with the most at bats his rate stats for hitting were higher than normal.
He is shown in Baseball Reference WAR as being a tiny bit above average on defense, but I trust defensive stats for catchers less than for the other positions. He had a fine reputation when he played. He also played on some great teams with the Royals and Cardinals. Those teams relied on pitching and defense a lot and I think Porter being the catcher was a great help to both staffs.
Darrell Porter basically had a prime at age 26 and 27 in 1978 and 1979. In 1978 he had a solid year catching, hitting and was voted 10th in the MVP voting. That was reasonable for the year he had. In 1979 he had a lot better season. He had the third highest WAR in the league. He finished 9th in the voting.
Of course, we know that writers then didn’t have the analytical tools they have these days. One other thing was that Porter spent 4 years with the Royals and they won their division three times. Porter had his best year on the year they didn’t win their division, although it was no fault of his, but it cost him votes. The other thing was that one of the top two players in WAR in the American League that year was his teammate George Brett. He finished third in the voting. Fred Lynn who was first in WAR (and should have won the MVP) finished fourth in the voting. It was a strange year in voting and the writers would do a lot better now.
One thing I noticed was that when Porter went to the Texas Rangers for the last two seasons of his career, he was older and wasn’t starting anymore. However, Porter played quite a bit and his batting statistics were really good for his age and limited playing time. I figured his manager deserves some credit for this as he seems to have batted against pitchers he could handle. His manager both years was Bobby Valentine. I never liked Valentine as a manager, but I think he was very analytical and knew the players’ weaknesses and strengths. I have to give him credit it looks like he got everything possible out of Darrell Porter at this time of his career.