LA Angels: Who is the greatest catcher in franchise history?
2) Bengie Molina
Benjie Molina holds a special place in the hearts of Angel fans. It was hard not to root for the lovable catcher who was behind the plate when the Angels won their first World Series in 2002.
Molina, who was considered a “glove only” catcher as a prospect in the Angels system, proved he could handle the bat pretty well, too. In the Angels’ Game 7, championship-clinching victory, Molina went 2-3 at the plate, including a key double in the bottom of the second inning that wiped away an early Giants lead.
The Puerto Rican catcher won back-to-back Gold Glove Awards in 2002 and 2003, proving himself to be one of the elite backstops in baseball. During his Gold Glove years, he led the American League in catching base runners, allowed the least pass balls, and ranked first in total zone runs, an advanced statistic that measures a catcher’s fielding impact in terms of runs above or below average.
His defensive accolades speak for themselves, but any reputation as a defense-only player, he made sure to disprove.
Molina ranks second in franchise history with 65 home runs as a catcher. During his final two seasons in Anaheim, he batted .279/.308/.425 with 24 home runs and 125 RBIs in 216 games played. He had developed into a consistent hitter, who rarely struck out.
Unfortunately, Molina’s divorce with the Angels would end ugly. He became upset when the team let him walk away as a free agent without making him an offer in 2005. He signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the Blue Jays.