New York Yankees : Jorge Posada, New York's Next Hall of Fame Catcher

Harold FriendChief Writer IMay 31, 2011

A Frustrated Jorge Posada
A Frustrated Jorge PosadaAl Bello/Getty Images

Jorge Posada was a Hall of Fame catcher who will be voted into the museum a few years after he retires. Posada should have retired after last season, but few individuals would turn down $13.1 million.

In the championship season of 2009, Posada hit .285 with a .363 on-base average and 22 home runs. He slugged .522.

Posada had the best season of his career in 2007. He batted a robust .338, hit 20 home runs, slugged .543, batted in 90 runs and produced a Mickey Mantle-like .426 on-base average.

He is the only major league catcher to ever have hit .330 or better with 40 doubles, 20 home runs and 90 RBIs in a single season.

Last season was an indication that the 38-year-old backstop was nearing the end. He hit only .285 with 18 home runs and a .454 slugging average, but his refusal to acknowledge that the end had arrived, as well as the money, resulted in Posada embarrassing himself this season.

Posada's horrible 2011 season will be forgotten with the passage of time.

The great Henry Aaron hit .234/.332/.355 and .229/.315/.369 his last two seasons, with a total of 22 home runs for those seasons.

The greater Willie Mays (maybe not) hit .211/.303/.344 his last season, and his friend, Mickey Mantle, hit a combined .241/.388/.416 his last two seasons.

Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter was offensively challenged his last two seasons (.246/.323/.375 and .218/.299/.340). Neither Johnny Bench nor Carton Fisk tore up the league during their final season.

The last season(s) of Aaron, Mays, Mantle and Carter have not tainted their legacies. Those seasons have become an afterthought that almost no one mentions. It is not unusual for players, the greats and the not-so-greats, to hang on too long.

Jorge Posada has a career .273 batting average, which tops that of Hall of Famers Carlton Fisk (.269), Johnny Bench (.267), Gary Carter (.262) and Ray Schalk (.253).

Posada has an excellent career .375 on-base average and a solid .475 slugging average. He averaged about 25 home runs over a 162-game season.

The argument against Posada's inclusion is that he was no better than average defensively, but it is difficult to compare catchers' defensive skills statistically.

Handling a pitching staff, blocking pitches in the dirt, stopping potential base-stealers, pouncing on bunts, trying to pick off runners, calling a game and hiding signs are all involved, so one must rely on one's own judgement and that of managers, players and reporters.

Thanks to Yankees coach Tony Pena, Posada has become a better defensive player. Still, he ranked no better than average on defense.

Posada was not the best catcher of his era. Ivan Rodriguez was a better hitter and there is no comparison between his defense and that of Posada.

For the first few few seasons of his career, Mike Piazza was a good defensive catcher, but that soon ended. However, Piazza was the greatest offensive catcher in baseball history. Many believe that will not be enough for him to get into the Hall of Fame. They are wrong.

When Piazza played for New York's most beloved team, the New York Mets, he was considered more valuable than Posada, although the only time the Yankees and Mets met in the World Series, it was Posada who worked out a key walk against Al Leiter that led to the game-winning and World Series-winning run.

With two outs and the bases empty in the top of the ninth of a 2-2 game, Posada fell behind in the count, but in a gutsy, gritty at-bat, he worked out a walk. Scott Brosius singled him to second, and he scored on a Luis Sojo single.

In the bottom of the ninth, with a runner on and two outs, Piazza hit what at first seemed to a potential game-tying home run to center field, but the ball died in the cold air. Bernie Williams caught it and the Yankees won their 26th world championship.

Posada has had a fine career. He was a member of five world champion teams, although he appeared in only eight games in 1996. He has been an all-Star five times. He is a leader and an outstanding competitor who hates to lose.

There are only 13 catchers in the Hall of Fame. Posada should become No. 14.


Baseball Reference