Don Slaught

That is one giant mitt.

Why we like him: Catcher, or "Hindketcher" as it's known in redneck knothole leagues around America, is obviously the most underrated position on the diamond. In the old days, the catcher's job was to handle the pitcher well and patrol the running game, first and foremost, and to chip in with a little offensive production whenever the opportunity presented itself. Like I've said before, the levels of importance on those duties have been reversed in the past two decades. I guess Don Slaught was just ahead of his time.

Don Slaught was guy who wasn't necessarily exceptional as a defensive catcher. He was average at best, but he definitely made up for any shortcomings by swinging the stick. Slaught spent his entire 16-year career behind the plate and played for the Royals, Rangers, Yankees, Pirates, Angels, White Sox, and Padres. A catcher generally doesn't have a very long shelf life like a middle reliever or a platoon infielder, but Slaught was a career .283 hitter. Was he good enough to be a franchise's premier backstop? No. But put Slaught in a platoon or let him be your second catcher, and suddenly you had a valuable asset.

Even though Slaught never appeared in an All Star game, his contributions to his team were always unnoticed but never unappreciated. He's probably best known for his years in Pittsburgh during the Pirates' early-90s success when Slaught was in his early-to-mid 30s. Platooning together with Mike LaValliere, a weak hitter but a much better defensive catcher, formed a formidable backstop combination for a very successful team. In the memorable 1992 season, Slaught batted .345 over 87 games for the NL East champs.

Slaught remained an effective hitter for pretty much his entire career, and his longevity was clearly somewhat of an exception to the rule for catchers. The only truly horrible season he ever put together was his last, batting .000 (0 for 20) in 1997 at the age of 38, which in catcher years made him 109. After his playing career, he did have a brief stint as hitting coach for the Detroit Tigers in 2005, replacing Kirk Gibson, but has since faded back into baseball obscurity. That's probably about right for a backup catcher anyway.

Ladies and gentlemen, Don Slaught, Ballplayer.

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