Earlier this week, Jorge Posada told sources that he was retiring. And rightfully so. Like every catcher before him, his skills behind the plate began to diminish and the Yankees did not value his bat enough to bring him back for 2012. Jorge showed in the ALDS that he can still hit (.429), but with the Yankees moving in a younger direction, it was time to say goodbye to Jorge. Posada will need to wait for five years before becoming eligible for the Hall of Fame. While Jorge will not be a First Ballot selection, Jorge will ultimately get in and here’s why..
Before I begin my argument, let’s start with a blind comparison..
Player A: 7,900 at-bats, 2,340 hits, 198 HRs, 960 RBIs, .295 batting average, .371 on-base percentage, .444 slugging percentage
Player B: 6,000 at-bats, 1,664 hits, 275 HRs, 1,065 RBIs, .273 batting average, .375 on-base percentage, .480 slugging percentage
Player A is the newly enshrined Barry Larkin. Player B is Jorge Posada. Add in the fact that Posada won five World Series titles to Larkin’s one and plays baseball’s toughest position for 17 seasons and it makes Jorge that much more attractive. We’ve heard how much of a ‘gentleman’ Larkin was and he definitely is. The same argument can be made for Posada. Posada was the Yankees’ Captain behind The Captain. He was the emotional leader on the field and in the dugout. He emboided what a ‘True Yankee’ should be. Time to get off of my Yankee soapbox and back to the argument..
Outside of the Larkin comparison, Posada ranks closely to baseball’s best catchers in offense and defense. In terms of OPS+ (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage with a ballpark adjustment), Jorge ranks eighth all-time among catchers. The catchers ahead of him? Mike Piazza, Mickey Cochrane, Bill Dickey, Johnny Bench, Ernie Lombardi, Gabby Hartnett, Yogi Berra and Roy Campanella–all Hall of Fame talents. The recently enshrined Gary Carter and Carlton Fisk rank behind Posada. Posada’s 275 HRs rank eighth all-time. Eight is a good number for JP.
Defensively, the aforementioned Risk and Carter were known for being excellent defensive player. So how does Jorge stack up? For this, we’ll use WAR (wins above replacement). Again, Posada ranks eighth, ranking behind Cochrane, Dickey, Bench, Hartnett, Berra, Campanella, and Ivan Rodriguez. Not bad company to be in!
With both metrics, Posada definitely belong in the Hall of Fame. But there are a few things that could derail his candidancy.
Everyone knows that Posada was the primary backstop for the late 1990s Yankee ‘dynasty’ and a regular face in post-season play. However, Jorge didn’t compile an impressive slate of statistics. In 492 plate appearances, Posada compiled a .248/.358/.387 line. Posada had his moments (double off of Pedro in 2003), but his body of work as a post-season player isn’t great. In terms of production and impact on his team, Bernie Williams is comparable to Posada in a lot of ways. Williams only earned 10 percent of votes in his first year.
While detractors will argue that Posada was never a dominant player, it’s hard to argue with his numbers and impact on the Yankees. Posada consistently posted solid numbers during a time where steroids ran rampant. Posada spent nearly his whole career behind the plate and swung the bat effectively from both sides of the plate.
I’ve already been on record saying that I don’t think Jorge Posada is a Hall of Fame worthy. To me, Hall of Fame players have to dominate their era and there should never be any question about their candidacy. However, the majority of voters do not think like I do and utilize comparative analysis. If we use that as a metric, Jorge Posada will be in the Hall of Fame one day. He won’t be a first ballot pick, but if Barry Larkin is in, Jorge Posada deserves to make it in too.