Catchers that Won an MVP Award [Learn More Here!]

catchers to win mvp

It’s hard enough for someone to make it to the major leagues, but only a select few who make it ever come close to winning a Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. 

For those that do win an MVP award, it can be the highlight of their career. It can also hold a lot of weight when voters consider a player for election to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Since the MVP award first was awarded in Major League Baseball (MLB), 12 catchers have won the award a total of 18 times (through 2021).   

This article showcases all catchers to win MVP by summarizing their key stats and a few facts on each player’s award-winning season. 

Keep scrolling for more!

All Catchers to Win an MVP Award

1. 1926 - Bob O’Farrell (NL)

  • Team: St Louis Cardinals
  • Batting Average: .293
  • Hits: 144
  • Home Runs: 7
  • RBIs: 68
  • Defensive Games Played: 146
  • Fielding Percentage: .983

 

Interesting Fact: Bob O'Farrell not only won the MVP award but he won a World Series ring with the Cardinals in 1926. 

2. 1928 - Mickey Cochrane (AL)

Mickey Cochrane diving to make the tag

A famous picture of Mickey Cochrane diving to tag out a runner

  • Team: Philadelphia Athletics
  • Batting Average: .293
  • Hits: 137
  • Home Runs: 10
  • RBIs: 57
  • Defensive Games Played: 130
  • Fielding Percentage: .966

 

Interesting Fact: Although a catcher, Mickey Cochrane led the 98 - 55 Athletics in triples in 1928, with 12.

3. 1934 - Mickey Cochrane (AL)

  • Team: Detroit Tigers
  • Batting Average: .320
  • Hits: 140
  • Home Runs: 2
  • RBIs: 75
  • Defensive Games Played: 124
  • Fielding Percentage: .988

 

Interesting Fact: When Cochrane won AL MVP in 1934, four of the top six finishers in that year’s MVP voting were all Tigers (Cochrane, Gehringer, Rowe and Greenberg).

4. 1935 - Gabby Hartnett (NL)

Gabby Hartnett one of the few catchers to win MVP

Hall of Famer and Cubs legend Gabby Hartnett

  • Team: Chicago Cubs
  • Batting Average: .344
  • Hits: 142
  • Home Runs: 13
  • RBIs: 91
  • Defensive Games Played: 110
  • Fielding Percentage: .984

 

Interesting Fact: Hartnett, an MVP catcher in 1935, faced 1934’s MVP-winning catcher Mickey Cochrane in the 1935 World Series. Cochrane’s Tigers would go on to defeat Hartnett’s Cubs in six games.

5. 1938 - Ernie Lombardi (NL)

ernie lombardi one of two reds catchers to win mvp

  • Team: Cincinnati Reds
  • Batting Average: .342
  • Hits: 167
  • Home Runs: 19
  • RBIs: 95
  • Defensive Games Played: 123
  • Fielding Percentage: .985

 

Interesting Fact: In 1938, Ernie Lombardi became the first catcher to win MVP and a batting title in the same season.

6. 1951 - Roy Campanella (NL)

  • Team: Brooklyn Dodgers
  • Batting Average: .325
  • Hits: 164
  • Home Runs: 33
  • RBIs: 108
  • Defensive Games Played: 140
  • Fielding Percentage: .986

 

Interesting Fact: Campanella had an incredible 69% caught stealing percentage (CS%) in 1951, one of the highest single-season CS% performances in MLB history. 

7. 1951 - Yogi Berra (AL)

  • Team: New York Yankees
  • Batting Average: .294
  • Hits: 161
  • Home Runs: 27
  • RBIs: 88
  • Defensive Games Played: 141
  • Fielding Percentage: .984

 

Interesting Fact: Yogi led the World Series-winning 1951 Yankees in hits (161), home runs (27), RBIs (88), runs (92), and total bases (269).

8. 1953 - Roy Campanella (NL)

roy campanella with 1951 NL MVP award, brookyln dodgers

Roy Campanella with his NL MVP award

  • Team: Brooklyn Dodgers
  • Batting Average: .312
  • Hits: 162
  • Home Runs: 41
  • RBIs: 142
  • Defensive Games Played: 140
  • Fielding Percentage: .989

 

Interesting Fact: Campy led the entire National League with 142 RBIs in 1953.

9. 1954 - Yogi Berra (AL)

  • Team: New York Yankees
  • Batting Average: .307
  • Hits: 179
  • Home Runs: 22
  • RBIs: 125
  • Defensive Games Played: 149
  • Fielding Percentage: .990

 

Interesting Fact: Berra topped four members of the Cleveland Indians to win the 1954 AL MVP award. Those four Indians players, who finished in the top six, were Larry Doby, Bobby Avila, Bob Lemon and Early Wynn.

10. 1955 - Roy Campanella (NL)

  • Team: Brooklyn Dodgers
  • Batting Average: .318
  • Hits: 142
  • Home Runs: 32
  • RBIs: 107
  • Defensive Games Played: 121
  • Fielding Percentage: .992

 

Interesting Fact: Campanella helped the Dodgers secure a World Series title in 1955 by hitting two home runs in the Series.

11. 1955 - Yogi Berra (AL)

yogi berra in color

Baseball legend Yogi Berra

  • Team: New York Yankees
  • Batting Average: .272
  • Hits: 147
  • Home Runs: 27
  • RBIs: 108
  • Defensive Games Played: 145
  • Fielding Percentage: .984

 

Interesting Fact: Yogi hit .417 with a team-high 10 hits in the 1955 World Series - the famous Series in which the Dodgers finally got the best of the Yankees.

12. 1963 - Elston Howard (AL)

  • Team: New York Yankees
  • Batting Average: .287
  • Hits: 140
  • Home Runs: 28
  • RBIs: 85
  • Defensive Games Played: 132
  • Fielding Percentage: .994

 

Interesting Fact: Howard led the AL pennant-winning 1963 Yankees in home runs, finishing that year ahead of Pepitone, Maris and Mantle.

13. 1970 - Johnny Bench (NL)

Johnny Bench early in his career (image source: Getty Images)

  • Team: Cincinnati Reds
  • Batting Average: .293
  • Hits: 177
  • Home Runs: 45
  • RBIs: 148
  • Defensive Games Played: 139
  • Fielding Percentage: .986

 

Interesting Fact: Bench led all National League batters in 1970 in home runs (45), RBIs (148), extra base hits (84) and sacrifice flies (11).

14. 1972 - Johnny Bench (NL)

  • Team: Cincinnati Reds
  • Batting Average: .270
  • Hits: 145
  • Home Runs: 40
  • RBIs: 125
  • Defensive Games Played: 129
  • Fielding Percentage: .992

 

Interesting Fact: Johnny Bench’s 8.6 bWAR in 1972 is tied with Gary Carter’s 1982 season for the highest bWAR in a single-season by a catcher.

15. 1976 - Thurman Munson (AL)

Former New York Yankees Catcher Thurman Munson throwing the ball

  • Team: New York Yankees
  • Batting Average: .302
  • Hits: 186
  • Home Runs: 17
  • RBIs: 105
  • Defensive Games Played: 121
  • Fielding Percentage: .981

 

Interesting Fact: Despite the Yankees’ loss in the 1976 World Series, Munson had a phenomenal postseason at the plate. He hit .435 in the 1976 ALCS and .529 in the World Series that year.

16. 1999 - Ivan Rodriguez (AL)

  • Team: Texas Rangers
  • Batting Average: .332
  • Hits: 199
  • Home Runs: 35
  • RBIs: 113
  • Defensive Games Played: 141
  • Fielding Percentage: .993

 

Interesting Fact: Pudge’s 199 hits in 1999 were the highest single-season hits total of any MVP catcher on our list.

17. 2009 - Joe Mauer (AL)

Former legendary Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer in catcher's gear

  • Team: Minnesota Twins
  • Batting Average: .365
  • Hits: 191
  • Home Runs: 28
  • RBIs: 96
  • Defensive Games Played: 109
  • Fielding Percentage: .996

 

Interesting Fact: In 2009, Joe Mauer had one of the best all-around seasons of any catcher in MLB history. Not only was he solid defensively and earned a gold glove, but his MLB-leading .365 batting average that year was the highest of any catcher in modern history (minimum 502 at bats).

18. 2012 - Buster Posey (NL)

buster posey mvp

Posey receiving his 2012 NL MVP Award (image source: Getty Images)

  • Team: San Francisco Giants
  • Batting Average: .336
  • Hits: 178
  • Home Runs: 24
  • RBIs: 103
  • Defensive Games Played: 114
  • Fielding Percentage: .991

 

Interesting Fact: By any measure, Posey had a storybook year in 2012. 

Not only did he win an MVP award and set career-highs in home runs (24) and RBIs (103), but he also won the NL batting title and a World Series championship that year.

Key Stats About MVP Catchers

Looking back at all the catchers to win MVP across baseball history, a few trends, stats and/or facts jump out to us.
Here are just a few…

  • Four catchers have won multiple MVP Awards. Those catchers are Mickey Cochrane, Roy Campanella, Yogi Berra and Johnny Bench. 
  • Of the 12 catchers to win MVP, seven are in the Hall of Fame. Two who are not in the Hall of Fame (Mauer and Posey) are not yet eligible for induction. 
  • Four catchers have won a World Series championship the same year that they won an MVP award. They are O’Farrell in 1926, Berra in 1951, Campanella in 1955 and Posey in 2012.
  • The team that has the most MVP-award winning seasons by a catcher is the New York Yankees with five seasons (1951, 1954, 1955, 1963 and 1976).
  • Yogi Berra is the only catcher to win an MVP award in back-to-back seasons (1954 and 1955). 
  • Both the National League and American League have had a catcher win an MVP award in the same season twice - in 1951 and 1955. Both times the award winners were Roy Campanella and Yogi Berra.
  • Roy Campanella was the first African-American catcher to win an MVP award (1951). This occurred just four years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.
  • Of the 18 times there have been MVP catchers, approximately half of the instances were National League catchers and the other half were American League catchers.
  • Two teams have had more than one catcher win an MVP award. The New York Yankees (Berra, Howard, Munson) and the Cincinnati Reds (Lombardi and Bench).

 

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