Jorge Posada to Retire: Is New York Yankees Catcher a Hall of Famer?

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Jorge Posada to Retire: Is New York Yankees Catcher a Hall of Famer?
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Jorge Posada

Always overshadowed by bigger names like Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez during his career, one still has to wonder—did Jorge Posada do enough to merit eventual Hall of Fame election?

I've decided to debate myself about the reported impending retiree to find out.

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

Over the course of his career, Posada hit 275 home runs, drove in 1,065 runs and made five All-Star teams. He won five Silver Sluggers and even finished in the top 10 in MVP voting twice, placing as high as third in the balloting.

His 275 home runs are eighth-most among catchers all-time, while his 1,065 RBI are 11th-most.

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

While his home run and RBI totals are impressive, there are other catchers who had greater numbers who are not yet in the Hall of Fame. Lance Parrish, for example, hit 324 home runs and had 1,070 RBI and he received only 1.7 percent of the vote for the Hall in his only year of eligibility.

Ted Simmons had slightly fewer home runs with 248, but he had over 300 more RBI—and he eclipsed the 2,000 hit milestone, which is something Posada never did. Yet Simmons received less than 4 percent of the vote in his lone year on the ballot.

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

That may be true, but every other catcher with at least 275 career home runs is in the Hall of Fame or will likely be elected in the near future. The club includes Ivan Rodriguez (311 home runs), Gary Carter (324), Yogi Berra (358), Carlton Fisk (376), Johnny Bench (389) and Mike Piazza (427).

And outside of Parrish and Simmons, every other catcher with at least 1,065 RBI is in the Hall, or will be heading there, too. That club includes all the aforementioned catchers, plus Gabby Hartnett (1,179 RBI) and Bill Dickey (1,209 RBI).

In addition, Posada has the accolades to his name. Five All-Star selections and five Silver Sluggers is nothing to sneeze at.

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

Good point; however, you might notice one thing about all those home run hitting catchers you just mentioned—they each eclipsed 300 home runs, which Posada did not do.

I know in this advanced world of sabermetrics, milestones don’t mean as much, but there are still milestone-minded voters out there and not reaching a mark like 300 home runs (or 2,000 hits) will hurt Posada’s chances of election.

To counter another point, I’m going to invoke the “if X is not in the Hall, then Posada should not be in the Hall, either” argument again.

Did Jorge Posada have a Hall of Fame career?

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You mentioned that Posada was an All-Star five times. That’s very good. But what if I said that Elston Howard was an All-Star 12 times and is not in the Hall? Or that Bill Freehan and Del Crandall were All-Stars 11 times each, and have yet to be enshrined?

And, I might add, Lance Parrish won six Silver Sluggers, one-upping Posada.

Yes! Posada Is a Hall of Famer!

Pardon my multi-faceted response here, see if you can keep up. 

I recognize that Posada never reached any major milestones; however, like you said—we are in a more sabermetric era, rightly or wrongly, which means milestones seem to have less and less bearing. By the time Posada is eligible, they may be lent even less credence then they are now. 

And in regards to Howard, Freehan and Crandall—while they were All-Stars a lot, they were never the offensive force Posada was. Each of them had offensive Wins Above Replacement less than Posada, per Baseball-Reference.com.

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

What about the point about Lance Parrish? I’ll rebut the rest in a moment.

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

You bring up Lance Parrish again—I recognize that Parrish was a great player, but even though he had total statistics higher than Posada, does that necessarily make him better than Posada? Or did Parrish just acquire those extra counting numbers because he played longer than the Yankees catcher?

Look at their 162-game averages. Posada averaged 24 home runs and 94 RBI per 162 games, while Parrish averaged 26 home runs and 87 RBI. Plus Posada had a better batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. And OPS. And OPS+.

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

All right, all right. This isn’t an argument about whether Posada is better or worse than Lance Parrish, it’s an argument about whether Posada is a Hall of Fame-caliber player.

Let’s look at Posada through a sabermetric lens, real quick, since you brought that point up earlier. You said that Posada had higher offensive WARs than Howard, Freehan and Crandall, which is true.

Posada’s total WAR, per Baseball-Reference, is 44.7—a number that is relatively low…and that is bested by fellow catcher Gene Tenace, someone I have rarely seen on anyone’s Hall of Fame radar.

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

Nick Laham/Getty Images

Yes, his WAR would be relatively low if he hadn’t spent his career as a catcher. But among catchers, his WAR is the 12th best all-time. And once again, while he is bested by one or two non-Hall of Famers, all the rest of the players than are better than him are in the Hall of Fame.

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

You keep using Posada’s career statistics as the baseline, the bottom limit, that catchers have to meet to be “Hall of Fame worthy.” But unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily mean Posada is a Hall of Famer—it just makes him the worst of the best.

Which basically means that if Posada were to be elected, he would be among the bottom-rung of Hall of Fame catchers, with guys like Rick Ferrell (who, by the way, was an All-Star two more times than Posada).

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

Going by raw counting stats that may appear to be the case, but looking at more sabermetric values like WAR and OPS+, that is clearly not so. (Plus, Posada was a better power hitter than Ferrell and also bested Ferrell in slugging percentage and OPS.)

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

You also mentioned earlier that Posada was a better offensive force than Freehan, Crandall and Howard, but that point can easily be countered by the fact that those three were better defensively than Posada. Combined, they won 11 Gold Gloves. Posada won zero.

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

Accolades, while helpful, don’t mean everything. You must also take into consideration Posada’s postseason performance. He appeared in 125 playoff games and won four World Series rings. He hit .333 or better in five series and hit 11 home runs in his postseason career.

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

World Series victories are very team-dependent—while the number of rings looks nice, it really isn’t a great way of determining someone’s Hall of Fame worthiness.

And, as a whole, Posada hit only .248 and slugged only .387 in his postseason career.

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

Okay, well, Posada also has the benefit of playing for one team his entire career—and what a team it was! The New York Yankees! It’s not often a player sticks around with a single team anymore, and to play so long for the Yankees helps his case too—there is something of an allure to the “Yankees mystique.”

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

That is a good point, though our old friend Bill Freehan spent his entire career with one team…

Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

But it wasn’t the Yankees…

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

Thurman Munson spent his entire career with the Yankees…

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

And Elston Howard spent most of his career with the Yankees and—

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

OK! I get it.

But during his era, Posada was one of the three-best catchers in the big leagues. When you think of “best catchers, 1997-2007,” who comes to mind? Mike Piazza, Ivan Rodriguez and Jorge Posada.  

And in that stretch of seasons, Posada was arguably the best catcher in the American League, with his only rival being Rodriguez. Posada had more home runs, RBI, walks and a better OPS+.

Piazza, of course, was superior to either of them, but he spent almost his entire career in the National League.

Do you really think someone who was arguably the best American League catcher for over a decade is not Hall of Fame worthy?

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

I can cherry-pick statistics, too. From 1997 to 2007, Rodriguez had more hits, doubles, triples, runs scored, stolen bases, a better slugging percentage and fewer strikeouts than Posada.

Plus, Rodriguez has the benefit of accolades that Posada cannot match—Rodriguez was an All-Star nine times in that span. He won eight Gold Gloves. He was a Silver Slugger four times.

Posada was an All-Star only five times in that stretch. He didn’t win a single Gold Glove—and, though he won one more Silver Slugger than Rodriguez, it was just that—only one more.

If you ask almost anybody who they think was the better American League catcher, in the late 1990s and 2000s, I guarantee most will say Rodriguez.

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

But being worse than a clear future Hall of Famer doesn’t necessarily make Posada not a future Hall of Famer, right? I mean, Dave Winfield was no Willie Mays, but that doesn’t make Winfield un-Hall of Fame worthy.

Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

While that is true, there are too many other negatives that can be attributed to his career that don’t make Posada worthy of enshrinement. Whether you look at offensive numbers, defensive numbers, accolades or sabermetrics, there are too many players who are better than him that are not in the Hall of Fame—and many of those players, really, don’t deserve to be in either.

There are too many glaring weaknesses in his resume, whether it is his poor postseason performance, or his lack of milestones, or his lack of Gold Gloves.

Sure, he was a very solid offensive contributor to one team for many seasons, helping lead them to many victories. But he never quite reached the level required to make himself into a Hall of Famer.

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

I guess you’re right. While he was a great player, he did not at any point reach that zenith of excellence that you expect out of a Hall of Famer. He did not have an incredible peak, nor did he put together the kind of counting numbers we expect out of a Cooperstown-ee.

Jorge Posada is not a Hall of Fame-worthy player.

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