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Catcher’s Week: Jorge Posada

This past Thursday, catcher Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants announced his retirement from the MLB after one of the best seasons in his 12-year career.

That brought about “Catcher’s Week”, a time I’m taking to evaluate 7 catchers’ cases for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In today’s edition, let’s talk about New York Yankees lifer, Jorge Posada.

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See here for the introductory post for this series.

 

Jorge Posada’s Career and Stats:

Born in Puerto Rico, Jorge Posada was an all-star baseball player as the shortstop for his hometown Alejandro High School. However, low SAT scores kept Posada from pursuing a 4-year collegiate career. Luckily, however, Calhoun Community College in Decatur, Alabama took a chance on Posada without recruiting him, and Posada took the offer without first going to the school. Posada would continue to show his baseball excellence at the school, playing well enough to get drafted in both 1989 and 1990. Both times by the New York Yankees.

While the Yankees were unsuccessful in signing Posada after drafting him in the 43rd round in 1989, they drafted him again in the 24th round of the 1990 MLB First-Year Player Draft and got him to sign to play professional baseball…though originally as an infielder. After a 1991 spent as a second baseman, the Yankees transitioned Posada to the catching position in 1992 citing his slower speed for the infield. This would prove to be a worthwhile change. Jorge Posada would go on to make his MLB debut on September 4th, 1995 as a defensive replacement for Jim Leyritz in the 9th inning of a Yankees blow-out 13-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners. This would begin a 17-year career.

Jorge Posada would go on to win 4 World Series, be a 5-time All-Star, and a 5-time Silver Slugger award.

Statistics wise, Posada would go on to hit to a .273/.374/.474 (.848 OPS/121 OPS+/123 wRC+). Over 1829 games in his career (7150 PA’s and 6092 AB’s), Posada collected 1664 hits, 275 Home Runs, 1065 RBI’s, and had a walk-to-strikeout rate of 936:1453. Defensively, Posada played 1575 games at catcher, 42 at first base, and 1 at second base (for an inning in 2011). In his 12876.0 innings at catcher, Posada had a .992 fielding percentage, a DRS of -80 (which started being tracked in 2002), and a framing of -43.9 (which started being tracked in 2008).

Combined over the course of his career, Jorge Posada had a +42.7 bWAR (Baseball Reference), a +40.4 fWAR (Fangraphs), a +33.6 WARP (Baseball Prospectus), and a +37.7 JAWS (Jay Jaffe). All of these are below the average Hall of Fame catcher. Further more, Posada also has 0 Black Ink (leading his league in a statistic; average HOF ~27) and 17 Gray Ink (top-10 in a league in a statistic; average HOF ~144), though he has a 98 in Hall of Fame Monitor (average HOF = 100), and a 40 in Hall of Fame Standard (average HOF = 50).

Is Posada a worthy future Hall of Famer?

 

The Case For Jorge Posada’s Induction into the BBHOF:

Well, the case for Posada’s potential future into getting inducted into the baseball hall of fame is weak. Posada was a great offensive catcher as he ranks 9th all time in Home Runs and 10th in OPS (though also 31st in OPS+), yet over 17 seasons he is still on the wrong side of the 2,000 Hit factor and wasn’t a groundbreaking hitter. His contemporaries like Ivan Rodriguez were better hitters (and defenders) and like Mike Piazza (who was maybe the best offensive catcher ever). Posada was great, he was a beloved member of the New York Yankees, and he was a crucial part to their success in the late-1990’s and 2000’s. However, he didn’t stand out.

I argued yesterday that Thurman Munson got shafted for his playing during an era where there was a plethora of great catchers in the MLB. Jorge Posada did not play in that type of era. While he played alongside easy to see Hall of Famers in I-Rod and Piazza, other catchers of his time have similar cases to his as maybe/fringe Hall of Famers. These are the guys like Joe Mauer, Buster Posey, Brian McCann, and Russell Martin (I will have more on those later 2 tomorrow).

Posada’s legacy is akin to that of Gene Tenace: a solid catcher (he has +46.8 bWAR) who was a big part of the Oakland Athletics winning ways in the early 1970’s. He was a 4-time World Champion (3 with Oakland), though other accolades were fickle (he was also a 1-time All Star while playing in the same era as Munson and Fisk in the AL). He was a quintessential player for the “Hall of Very Good”.

Gene Tenace lasted just one year on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot, receiving 0.2% of the vote in 1989. Jorge Posada lasted just one year on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot, receiving 3.8% of the vote in 2017.

I will remember Posada fondly as a Yankees fan who grew up with him as the catcher of my youth.

He’s a New York Yankee great, but he’s not a Hall of Famer.Embed from Getty Images

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