There's a good chance that Jason Varitek's name will be mentioned in the same breath as many of the all-time Red Sox greats.
The captain will one day enter the Red Sox Hall of Fame when his career is all said and done, but will Tek be invited to Cooperstown?
No. 33 has been a fixture in the Sox dugout and behind the dish every year since 1998 -- technically his second year with the club, after being acquired from the Mariners at the trade deadline in 1997 when he played one game with the Sox.
In Boston, Tek is a God. Throughout baseball, he's one of the most respected elder-statesman in the league and despite never hitting over .300 in any single season, he's strung together Hall of Fame catcher-like numbers during his prime.
Like all other Hall of Fame debates, it's tough to compare Tek to the 13 current Cooperstown backstops. Sure, guys like Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra and Carlton Fisk have better numbers than Varitek, but as we all know -- and have a tough time coping with, when it comes down to the old "should he or shouldn't he" debate -- it's a different game than it was when those legends manned the dish. That being said, Tek also has the edge in a few major offensive stats (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, home runs, RBIs, runs scored) against a handful of current Hall of Fame catchers.
As seen on Tuesday night, Tek's defensive prowess will only boost his chances of getting the nod to baseball immortality -- as will his two World Series rings. An MLB-record four no-hitters caught is impressive to many and will help his cause, but his importance to the Sox pitching staff can barely be summed up by numbers. That angle may be hard to fathom by some voters.
Does Jason Varitek, who owns a career .258 BA, 187 home runs, 739 RBIs, 651 runs scored and a .778 OPS, belong in the Hall of Fame?