The New York Yankees franchise has long been associated with excellence and tradition. With 27 World Series Championships under their belt, the Yankees have brought their city more rings than any other team in the MLB.
In fact, the only other team to reach the double-digits in championships is the St. Louis Cardinals, with 11.
The Yankees astounding success and rich history has been established and continued with the help of numerous talented athletes who have worn the pinstripes proudly. The franchise has cultivated 34 Hall of Fame players, making New York City the home of countless MLB greats.
On Tuesday, January 24, 2012, Yankees catcher Jorge Posada announced his retirement from the MLB.
At 40 years of age, Posada leaves behind a legacy that will undoubtedly be difficult for any Yankees catcher to match for years to come. His positive impact on the Yankees and the city of New York has left sports fans searching for a fitting spot for Posada on the long list of all-time Yankee greats.
In his 17-year tenure with the Yankees, Jorge Posada managed to compile quite an impressive resume. Posada was drafted by the Yankees in 1991 after playing his college ball at Calhoun Community College in Decatur, Alabama. He made his MLB debut in 1995 when he was called upon to replace Jim Leyritz in the ninth inning of a September game against the Oakland Athletics.
After spending time in both the minors and majors in 1996, Posada earned a full-time role with the Yankees in 1997. Although Jorge was listed as the backup catcher for current Yankee manager Joe Girardi, he managed to appear in 52 games in his first full season with the Yanks.
With each coming season, the timeshare between the two catchers seemed to be shifting in the favor of Posada. Despite his part-time label, Jorge was seen as a pivotal factor in the Yankees World Series victories in 1998 and 1999.
After the 1999 season, Girardi left the Yankees as a free agent to become the full-time catcher for the Chicago Cubs. Once named the starter, Posada continued his rise to stardom and further solidified his spot in Yankees history.
In his career with the New York Yankees, Posada posted a batting average of .273, hit 275 home runs, and earned 1,065 RBIs. Posada's career on-base percentage is .374—higher then seven out of the 10 catchers currently in the Hall of Fame, including Yankee great Yogi Berra. Posada's slugging percentage, .474, also ranks among the Top Five catchers in Cooperstown.
Jorge was a five-time All-Star, appearing at the game in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2007. In each of those five years, Posada also earned the American League Silver Slugger Award for catchers. Posada won the the World Series with the Yankees in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009. He started in four of those championships.
Despite all of his achievements, the most impressive thing about Jorge Posada may be his leadership skills. Posada worked hard day in and day out, helping to set the bar high for any player who wore the pinstripes and took the field with him.
He has also been recognized for his work in the community. In 2000, he was the recipient of the Thurman Munson Award and in 2001 he received the Milton Richman "You Gotta' Have Heart" Award—both acknowledging his achievements on and off the field.
Ranking the greatest Yankees of all-time is no small feat.
The list, likely to include players like Babe Ruth, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Whitey Ford, is forever growing. Along with teammates Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada possesses qualities that may land him in a solid spot on many people's lists of all-time Yankee greats.
Although Posada's achievements will more than likely never eclipse those of the great Yogi Berra, it is important to point out the similarities between the two, given that they both played catcher for the New York Yankees. In 2003, Jorge tied Yogi Berra for the most single-season home runs by a Yankees catcher (30).
As mentioned before, his on-base percentage, .374, is higher than Yogi Berra's. Berra is the only catcher in Yankees history with more home runs than Posada (306 to 246), but then again, Berra also played two more seasons then Posada. Jorge's 1,574 games behind the plate ranks third only to Berra (1,696) and Bill Dickey (1,708).
Statistics aside, Posada's leadership skills, commitment and loyalty helped to exemplify what New York Yankees baseball is about, and that may just be the factor that sets him apart from others on that list of greats.
On the other hand, Jorge also had some qualities that may land him lower on lists. Although Posada was always considered a solid catcher, he was never one of the best in the game at his position. He sometimes had problems keeping the ball in front of him and his arm strength only allowed him to throw out 28 percent of base runners throughout his career.
Twice he led the league in passed balls and errors. He was also not the best in the postseason. Posada hit .248, 11 home runs and 42 RBIs in 124 postseason games.
Although people are discussing Posada as a potential Hall of Famer, his spot in Yankees history may be even more important to die hard Yankees fans. A team who's tradition runs deep, the history of the Yankees franchise is as rich as they come. Some may rank Posada in the Top 10, in the Top 50, and even in the top 100.
The fact is that Jorge deserves a spot on the list of all-time Yankee greats.
The problem is finding a place for him in a collection of players who have played for the most winningest franchise in all of baseball. There is no right or wrong answer, only opinion.
After reading, I will pose the question to you: Where would you put Jorge Posada on the list of all-time Yankee greats?