Top Five Catchers in Pittsburgh Pirates History
By Noah Wright
Number 3 – Tony Pena
Tony Pena was not only an All-Star catcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first half of the 1980s, but he was also a one of the better catchers in the game. Pena stepped to the plate 3,091 times in a Pirate uniform and batted .286/.327/.411. That’s good for a 104 wRC+ and OPS+. From 1982-1986, Pena’s wRC+ (104) was the 10th best among MLB catchers.
While Pena was definitely a contributor with the bat, it was his glove that was his main calling card. Between 1982 and 1986, the defensive wizard posted a 15.6 defensive WAR. His lowest full season dWAR total was 1.3 in 1983. He also caught 39.5% of all runners trying to take an extra base on him.
Pena made four All-Star Games with the Pirates. Overall, he had a 20.5 fWAR, and a 91 defensive fielding positional adjustment on FanGraphs. Not only is that the 2nd highest among Pirate catchers, but 10th highest in Pirates history in general.
Even on his way out the door, Pena continued to contribute to the Pirates. In one of the most well known trades in franchise history, Pena was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in a deal that saw the Bucs receive center fielder Andy Van Sylke. Van Slyke went on to become one of the best outfielders in franchise history, while helping to lead the Pirates to three consecutive division crowns from 1990-1992.