Tonight against the Brewers, Adam Wainwright will start for the Cardinals, and most likely it will be Yadier Molina behind the plate. If they are both in the lineup, it will be the 300th time the pitcher/catcher battery has started together, making them just the fourth battery in baseball history to start together that often. Other pairs include Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan (324 starts), Warren Spahn and Del Crandall (316), and Red Faber and Ray Schalk (306).
It got me wondering, which Royals pitcher/catcher combos have played together the most? I went with innings pitched, since it is easier to tabulate on Baseball Reference, and came up with this list of the most common batteries in Royals history:
10. Paul Splittorff/John Wathan 508 innings
Split has the most innings pitched in Royals history, so it is no surprise he threw a lot to John Wathan, a loyal organizational soldier who spent his entire ten-year career with the Royals before going on to manage them.
9. Kevin Appier/Brent Mayne - 522 innings
Appier was a lone shining star in the mid-90s for the Royals, but supporting him was former first-round pick Brent Mayne. The duo hooked up from 1990-1995 for the Royals, and both returned for a reunion in Kansas City for the surprising pennant run in 2003. Appier seemed to enjoy throwing to Mayne - his 2.83 ERA with Mayne behind the plate is better than with any other catcher that caught him at least 10 times.
8. Jeremy Guthrie/Salvador Perez - 547 innings
Jeremy Guthrie is still pitching, and catching him is Salvador Perez! Salvy caught Guthrie for four seasons from 2011 to 2015, and this innings total does not count his 13 1⁄3 post-season innings from 2014-2015, including Game 7 of the 2015 World Series.
7. Mark Gubicza/Mike MacFarlane - 567 innings
Gubie was a dependable innings-eating groundball artist who is second in club history in innings pitched. The Royals never seemed all that happy with MacFarlane’s defense behind the plate and kept trying to start guys ahead of him, but he proved to be pretty solid and caught the second-most games in club history.
6. Larry Gura/Darrell Porter - 574 innings
It seemed like Gura might be washed up at age 28 when the Royals picked him up from the Yankees, but he enjoyed a career renaissance and become a vital member of several division-winning clubs and the 1980 pennant-winning Royals. With Porter behind the plate, Gura received Cy Young award votes in 1978 and 1980.
5. Paul Splittorff/Darrell Porter - 658 innings
Split and Porter played in 104 games together, including Game 1 of the 1978 ALCS, Game 3 of the 1980 ALCS, and a relief appearance by Splitt in the 1980 World Series.
4. Danny Duffy/Salvador Perez - 660 innings
Salvy has caught more games in club history than anyone else, and the pitcher he has caught the most is Duffman. Duffy has certainly enjoyed having Salvy back there - his ERA is over a run lower (3.50) with Salvy than with anyone else (4.52).
3. Larry Gura/John Wathan - 744 innings
Wathan caught Gura in Game 2 of the 1980 World Series and was the starter in the 1981 Divisional Series against Oakland.
2. Dennis Leonard/Darrell Porter - 856 innings
Dennis Leonard’s 144 wins are second-most in club history behind only Splittorff. Dennis was a three-time 20-game winner, including in 1977 and 1980 with Porter behind the plate.
1. Kevin Appier/Mike MacFarlane - 901 innings
No one has combined for a pitcher/catcher battery more times in Royals history than Ape and Mac. The duo have played together for 143 games in Royals history, and it was MacFarlane behind the plate for Appier’s terrific 1993 season where he won 18 games and won the ERA title.
Who knows, maybe Salvador Perez can catch for several more seasons and make this list with young Royals pitchers coming up now?