By In Stuff

Ballot 19: Jorge Posada


Jorge Posada

Played 17 years for one team

Five-time all-star caught for four World Series champs. 42.7 WAR, 17.3 WAA

Pro argument: Excellent offensive catcher who was a staple for dominant Yankees.

Con argument: Does not line up favorably against Hall of Fame catchers.

Deserves to be in Hall?: Not quite.

Will get elected this year?: No

Will ever get elected?: 5-10% chance.

* * *

There are six catchers in the Baseball Hall of Fame who played their entire career after World War II. Ivan Rodriguez should soon get elected — maybe even this year on his first ballot. That would make seven.

1. Johnny Bench

2. Yogi Berra

3. Roy Campanella

4. Gary Carter

5. Carlton Fisk

6. Mike Piazza

7. Ivan Rodriguez (provisionally)

Now, you could argue pretty persuasively that seven catchers over the last 70 years is not enough. That’s only one per decade (with the potential elections in the future of active players like Buster Posey, Yadier Molina and Joe Mauer).

Is one per decade enough? Depends on your point of view. You could argue that outstanding catchers like Ted Simmons, Bill Freehan, Gene Tenace, Thurman Munson, Joe Torre (the player), Elston Howard and others deserved more consideration.There were, at times, ripples of momentum for Munson and Torre, but they did not lead to much.

But this is our current standard for Hall of Fame catchers: Bench, Berra, Campy, Carter, Pudge, Piazza and probably Pudge 2.0. Let’s face it: They are all superheroes. And even some of those guys needed to wait to get in — Bench was the only one of the six to get elected on first ballot.

What made them all so great? Well, all of them could really hit. And most of them were fantastic defenders. Only Piazza was regarded as a less-than-stellar catcher, and he was the best hitter of them all. Bench and Berra are Top 50 players all time, regardless of position, and the other four are viable candidates for the Top 100.

So, you ask: Does Jorge Posada belong in the Hall of Fame?

And the answer is: Maybe … but he doesn’t belong in THIS Hall of Fame.

This is the part of the Hall of Fame everyone instinctively understands but few consciously consider — Hall of Fame standards are not permanent and they are not well planned out. They shift and bend and tilt with every election. Every yea or nay choice of the writers and veteran’s committees sets the Hall of Fame line.

When you elect an Ozzie Smith, for instance, you open the door for electing someone substantially because of their great defense. When you elect a Sandy Koufax or Kirby Puckett, you open the door for electing someone with a great career cut short by injury.

These don’t necessarily become precedents — Omar Vizquel will not necessarily get elected because of Ozzie; Johan Santana will not necessarily get elected because of Sandy. But those doors were opened once and, as such, might be opened again. Fans of Gary Sheffield or Vlad Guerrero can point to Jim Rice. Fans of Lee Smith or Trevor Hoffman can point to Bruce Sutter.

But catcher … there’s really nowhere to point.

The voters have stubbornly kept the catcher door slammed shut.

I’m not saying this is bad … the only bad Hall of Fame standards, in my view, are the inconsistent ones. A catcher’s career is difficult to judge. It will inevitably be shorter than other careers. The wear and tear — both mentally and physically — is overwhelming. In many instances, the manager leans on the catcher to lead the team in ways that are easily seen and completely mysterious.

So you can’t just fall back on numbers or awards. Look, Mike Piazza is the greatest hitting catcher ever, most would agree. He created 1,378 runs, which is a lot of runs.

But would his offense be enough if he played, say, first base? Well, among thosse who created more: Will Clark, Lou Whitaker, Kenny Lofton, Dave Parker, John Olerud, Dwight Evans, Harold Baines, Rusty Staub, Brian Giles, Bernie Williams, Paul Konerko, Chili Davis, Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, Carlos Delgado, Mark Grace …

That’s not a fair list, of course — Piazza was a much better hitter than most of the people on it. But it’s still just a partial list of the non-Hall of Famers who created more runs than Piazza. On this year’s ballot, Edgar Martinez, Gary Sheffield, Manny Ramirez and Larry Walker were all probably about as good as Piazza at the plate with Vlad Guerrero not far behind.

But, of course, the assumption is that if Piazza HAD played first base or left field, his career would have been longer and he would have hit more. No catcher has 3,000 hits. No catcher has 500 home runs. No catcher has 10,000 at-bats. It’s plain HARDER to hit when you’re a catcher. Johnny Bench, in my view, is the greatest catcher in baseball history. As a hitter, he and George Foster were about the same.

Then this is like saying that, as pure singers, Bob Dylan and Steve Winwood were about the same. It may or may not be true, but it isn’t the point.

The Hall of Fame standards before World War II were a bit different. Roger Bresnahan and Ray Schalk are in the Hall of Fame because of their defense and the innovations they helped develop. Ernie Lombardi was not a good catcher — he might be the slowest player in baseball history — but man could he hit. Mickey Cochrane’s career was short, and he also was not a great defensive catcher,  but he also could crush the ball. Rick Ferrell is also in the Hall of Fame for some reason too.

Now, though, the standards eliminate all but the obvious choices. Amazing defensive catchers like Bob Boone and Jim Sundberg have never come close to the Hall of Fame. Terrific offensive catchers like the aforementioned Simmons and Tenace and Munson have never come all that close either. A wonderful two-way player like Bill Freehan, no. You need to hit, you need to field and you need to have a lengthy career at least as far as a catcher goes. Your career can leave no doubt at all in the voters’ minds.

Is that the way it should be? There would be those who would say that catcher is the one position where the voters have gotten it EXACTLY RIGHT by keeping the standards extremely high and not allowing borderline candidates in. Others would say that the voters underrate the massive contribution of catchers. Either way, this is the whirlwind that Jorge Posada enters now. He certainly won’t get close to election this year, but I would not be surprised to see him get 10-15% of the vote and stay on the ballot for a good while. He will be a fascinating test case study.

* * *

There is a story about Jorge Posada that has always bugged me. I think I first read it in Tom Verducci’s excellent profile of Posada in Sports Illustrated back in 2001, but I’ve seen it many places. You might know that Posada’s father, Jorge Luis de Posada, basically raised his son to be a ballplayer. He had played baseball (and numerous other sports) in Cuba and lost his chance to play in the Major Leagues when Fidel Castro came into power. Jorge Luis’ cousin Leo played for a time with the Kansas City A’s.

The relationship between Jorge Luis and his son Jorge was, well, complicated and tense. Jorge spends several chapters in his book The Journey Home exploring how hard his father was on him and how difficult it was for him to understand their relationship. Jorge Luis had escaped Castro’s Cuba, and he intended to toughen up his son for a tough world. Jorge tells one story of boxing with his father and unleashing a clean shot to the ribs, knocking the air out of his father’s lungs. It’s unclear what lesson he took from that.

In any case, there is no question that Jorge Luis was the driving force in Jorge’s baseball life. He used to pull young Jorge off basketball courts because he thought any sport besides baseball (and cycling) was a waste of time. He forced Jorge to learn how to switch-hit. He gave Jorge numerous Mister Miyagi type tasks — paint this wall that doesn’t need painting, level our backyard that is already leveled — to strengthen him for baseball. And he served as Jorge’s agent and singular advisor — when the Yankees selected Posada in the 43rd round in the 1989 draft, Jorge Luis understood that this was not the time to sign.*

*Another pretty fair player, Jason Giambi, was selected by Milwaukee two picks after Posada; he also did not sign. 

The Yankees kept an eye on Posada as he went to Calhoun Community College in Decatur, Alabama (a place where Jorge would say he first felt real racism) and drafted him in the 24th round in the 1990 draft. Players in the 24th round rarely make it but as the story goes Jorge Luis de Posada — who had spent quite a bit of time as a Major League scout and so understood the business — cut a special deal for his son.

“As a 24th-round draft pick in 1990,” Verducci wrote, “Posada was such an uncertain prospect that he signed with the Yankees only after his father had extracted a promise from New York not to cut him in the first three seasons in the farm system.”

This story, as mentioned, has been told often. Jorge Posada was a no-hit, no-field second baseman in Oneonta, NY his first year, but given those three years his father had secured for him, he developed into a catcher. There are not many stories of a second baseman becoming a catcher — it was not an easy transition. But by the time he reached his third year, Jorge had developed into a real prospect, enough of one that many (including Jorge Luis) wondered why he was not the Yankees starting catcher over the light hitting Joe Girardi in 1996, 1997 and much of 1998.

Posada had his first 500-at-bat season in 2000, at the age of 28, and he hit .287/.417/.527 with 107 walks, 28 homers, 92 runs and 86 RBIs. It was his first of four straight All-Star seasons. His best year was probably 2003 when he hit 30 homers, drove in 101, but it also could have been 2007 when he hit .338 with 40 doubles. He had seven seasons where he created 80-plus runs — only Simmons, Piazza and Cochrane among catchers had more. He had three seasons where he created 100-plus runs, same as Berra and Dickey, one more than Carter or Fisk. For a catcher, Posada could really hit.

How good was he defensively? This is a point of contention. He never won a Gold Glove, and no one ever really talked about him being of Gold Glove quality. He twice led the league in passed balls and twice led catchers in errors, and despite his strong arm base stealers ran on him. But he was the regular catcher for four World Series winning teams and two more pennant winners. He forcefully caught some of the best pitchers of his day — nobody ever questioned Posada’s passion or toughness.

So, really, his Hall of Fame case probably revolves at least somewhat around his defense and leadership and how people choose to view those things. WAR ranks him just slightly above Piazza defensively. Posada was certainly not the hitter that Piazza was. You have to give him a lot of points for defense and leadership to get him into the Hall of Fame. There’s a decent chance that, over the years, he will get those points.

But back to that story about Jorge Luis convincing the Yankees to not cut Jorge for three years. It never made any sense to me. What leverage would a 24th round pick have to get a three-year commitment from the Yankees? I figured that for the story to be true Jorge Luis must have been so respected by the Yankees — and in baseball in general — that they gave that committment as a sign of esteem.

Turns out though — if Jorge Posada’s autobiography is to be believed — the story just isn’t true. His father WANTED to get the three-year commitment but …

Posada wrote: “My dad wanted to do something to make it more difficult for the Yankees to release me if I didn’t impress them from the get-go. … He fell short of his own goal. He wanted them to guarantee they’d give me three years in the organization. That’s basically unheard of, especially for a guy drafted as low as I was.

“For their part, the Yankees did stick with standard operating procedure. They weren’t going to guarantee anything other than that I’d join the more than 1,200 guys drafted and be given a shot. What I did with that shot was up to me — not even my dad could do anything to influence that.”

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81 Responses to Ballot 19: Jorge Posada

  1. Jan Rinnooi says:

    When did Posada win a batting title? I know he finished top 5 one year, but never won a batting title

  2. Matt says:

    I think Posada gets in eventually. Most baseball dynasties have 3-4 players that make it to the Hall of Fame. He’ll eventually join Jeter and Rivera but it will probably take 8-10 years on the ballot.

    • SDG says:

      I agree with this. Especially because of the “Core Four” nickname. There’s going to be a lot of pressure to pick Posada or Pettitte, and Posada is squeaky clean and “played the right way” and it’s much harder to judge catchers (most of what they do defensively is impossible to see), so there you go.

      There will be many, many more heavy-hitting catchers in the future. As we focus on offense, and the number of strikeouts/walks/homers gores up, we’re going to see teams put big bats at every position. There are going to be a lot of Posada-type catchers in the future. That’s my concern with him. When you elect someone because they’re the best at something narrow, that gets eclipsed as the game evolves.

      Take Lou Brock – 1st ballot at the time, but borderline at best now. He went in on one thing (base stealing) and once someone does that better, where does that leave him. Same with relievers. Bruce Sutter looks increasingly like a boderline choice, and if Lee Smith shifted his career 10 years earlier, he’d be in now to, and that would look iffy. (I’m not picking on Cardinals. I swear). So in a few years I wonder if catchers who can hit will be so unusual. Besides, the position itself changed. Sports medicine means catchers perform longer. Especially for disciplined guys who take care of their bodies (more of those in the future too) so we will see more durable catchers and Posada will cease to be noteworthy there.

      • Anon says:

        I disagree about catchers in the future being even better hitters. Unless MLB does ever go to machines to call balls/strikes, teams are going to focus more and more on pitch framing regardless of offense. The Dbacks just gave jeff Mathis a 2 year, $4M deal even though he’s 34 next year and has been the worst hitting non-pitcher in the majors over the last 3 years (min. 400 PA). IN fact, he has hit about as well as Zack Greinke and Jake Arrieta and worse than MadBum. BUt the guy can frame.

        Catchers who can frame well can easily produce more value than guys who are bad framers and good hitters. Guys like Kyle Schwarber will simply never be utilized as catchers long-term.

      • Gene says:

        Brock went in on base stealing — and hitting. 3,000 hits is 3,000 hits (and should be an automatic ticket to the HoF).

      • MikeN says:

        When did this Core Four nickname start? I think it’s not going to carry much weight. Bernie was a big part of those first championships.

        That said, as a Red Sox fan, if there was one guy we didn’t want playing for the Yankees, it wasn’t Jeter or Bernie or Giambi and of course not ARod, it was Posada.

      • DC says:

        Bryce Harper was immediately converted from catcher when he was drafted. Same with Alex Jackson. Both were considered strong defensively. Teams understand that if a player is a good hitter they want him to get as many at bats as possible and to play as long as possible, so I actually think we will see fewer good hitting catchers and more defensively oriented catchers who are merely adequate hitters.

        • SDG says:

          On the other hand, Piazza and Posada were no-glove guys who were converted to the catcher position after washing out at theoretically-easier positions.

          It’s what happened with middle IF. For most of baseball they were 100 lbs speedy glove guys. Then that changed. They needed to be able to hit. It makes sense teams will try to put big bats at every position, including C.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Don’t forget Clemens and Mussina. I think both of those get in. Clemens obviously was a HOF caliber player who isn’t getting in because of PED allegations. So that would be four. And I don’t see any quota for Yankee players from those teams. I see Posada possibly being considered in the latter voting periods as the ballot is cleared of it’s log jam. But he’s too close to a lot of other Hall of Very Good catchers that Joe mentioned. I think he’ll need a Veterans Committee down the road to get in.

  3. Dr. Baseball says:

    The other position on the diamond that is under-represented (or held to the highest standards) is third base.

    I do wonder, though, if Ron Santo’s election changes that a bit for third base.

    As a life-long Yankees fan, I would love to see Howard, Munson, Posada, or Graig Nettles in the Hall. They, though, appropriately, will all probably reside in the Hall of Very Good.

    In regard to Nettles, knowing that the Hall-of-Fame isn’t likely, it would be nice for the Yankees to recognize him in Monument Park. He was the Captain. He was on 4 American League Pennant winners and two World Champions. He hit, I believe, more home runs than any 3b in AL history and was among the top home run hitters of the 1970’s. He won two gold gloves – and probably would have won more if not for a guy named Brooks Robinson…

    The Yankees could easily retire his number as well. (Nettles wore #9. It’s already retired in honor of Roger Maris.)

    Many consider Nettles to be the greatest third baseman in Yankees history…or at least he was until A-Rod.

    • Phil Gaskill says:

      Nettles also led the AL in homers in 1976.

    • Rob Smith says:

      If you elect Nettles, it brings in other 3rd basemen into the discussion. Ron Cey, Buddy Bell and Ken Boyer. The issue is that Nettles is too much like those players in terms of WAR. He’s especially similar to Bell and Boyer who were good defensive players…. Bell being outstanding. So, they’ve all been considered next tier type players. Santo, I agree, was cast in that group & eventually got in, though he was the “best of the rest” guy. So, I’d say Nettles could get there some day. But given the torturous route to get in via the oddly defined veterans committees these days, I wouldn’t hold my breath for it to happen soon.

      • Dr. Baseball says:

        I agree.

        They all make the Hall of Very Good.

        I wasn’t arguing that Nettles belongs in the Hall. I do think he deserves a place in Monument Park (a strictly Yankee honor)though.

  4. SDG says:

    I think Posada will get in because of how baseball culture puts a clear demarcation line between players in the Hall of Fame, and not. Posada played for a dynasty that nearly won 5 rings in a row, something that won’t be repeated for a long time. So there is a sense that those Yankees need to be loaded. But in reality, it’s better to have 7 Hall of Very Good guys than two HoFers and a bunch of replacement-level scrubs. We might know this intellectually, but we don’t see it. Arguments for Posada are going to be “Team X had 5 players in the Hall and they didn’t do half as well as Posada’s Yankees.” So that will be Posada’s ticket. Especially as that era gets further in the past and we get more sentimental about it. (He won’t get in by the BBWAA, though, at leadt not for awhile. That group is tough on catchers and his career overlaps Piazza’s and I-Rod’s).

    I also think if it came out tomorrow that Posada was dealing drugs or had a secret family in Jersey his candidacy would lose steam. He’s that kind of candidate. There is an argument for putting in more catchers, but it can’t be “He was a great hitter for being a catcher, a position that has been historically where you put all-field no hit guys.” It has to be based on a more complete understanding of what they do defensively, not just comparisons to guys who played before protective equipment.

    • Rob Smith says:

      I don’t see anyone comparing Posada to players on other championship teams. I think his rings will obviously help him, especially since he was considered a “leader” on those teams. That gives him exposure and prestige that he wouldn’t get if he was on a bad team.

      But once you look at him, the entire case for him is built on his excellent offense at his position, and who played on championship teams. I don’t see anyone looking at other teams and saying somehow that because the Yankees had fewer HOFers that somehow Posada made a lot of difference & therefore should be in. It’s not even true. The Yankees had very good teams with very good players and at least three HOFers. So there is no argument that Posada was THE key piece. He was one among several high level players that weren’t necessarily HOF players (Williams, O’Neil, Tito Martinez, Pettite etc.) along with HOFers Jeter, Rivera, Clemens and possibly eventually Mussina.

    • invitro says:

      “Especially as that era gets further in the past and we get more sentimental about it.” — But as that era gets further in the past, other 1996-2000 Yankees will be elected. You guys that predict Posada will make it: in how many years are you predicting it’ll take? Because if you’re talking 50 years, and I think that number is as likely as any, here’s the 1996-2000 NYY HoF’ers I think you’ll be looking at: Boggs, Jeter, Rivera, Raines, Clemens, Pettitte, maybe Cone. That’s 6 or 7 HoF’ers, and the Yankees will be *very* well represented. (And are people here forgetting that Boggs was very much part of the Yankees’ dynasty?)

      • invitro says:

        And if you extend the dynasty to 2009, you add Cano, Mussina, ARod, maybe Kevin Brown, maybe Giambi, maybe Sabathia…

      • SDG says:

        Yes. Except Raines will be in, but not as a Yankee. Same with Clemens (eventually), Cone (maybe), Mussina, and Boggs. So it will just be Jeter and Rivera of the homegrown players, and since people always attach some sort of narrative to Yankees winning teams, there will be a sense that they won because they are True Yankees with Character and Will and blah blah we’ve all read the profiles. People see Yankees that way, especially clean-cut guys who don’t say dumb shit in the media and win a lot.

        I’m just saying Posada is the kind of guy that gets VC attention. If there’s a sense we aren’t putting in enough catchers, that helps him too. But it’s all narrative stuff.

    • Rick Rodstrom says:

      The greatest Yankee dynasty of the all was the Mantle-Berra-Ford teams that dominated the 50’s. Mantle-Berra-Ford were the only Hall of Famers on that team.

      • Stephen says:

        Well, along with Phil Rizzuto (who probably doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame but who was elected).

        And didn;t Enos Slaughter play for a couple of those NY teams in the late fifties?

    • Rick Rodstrom says:

      Just a note, but Posada wasn’t on the post-season roster in 1996, as he was only a September call-up that year for a couple of games. As such, he is very much the junior member to Jeter, Rivera and Pettite.

  5. Rob Smith says:

    In looking at Posada, it’s really hard to find a good comp. Certainly Posada is not any of the top 7 guys. The other guys Joe mentioned: Freehan, Tenace, Simmons and Munson are not the same player. Freehan, compiled 45 WAR which was gained by good hitting and really good fielding. Simmons compiled 50 WAR with very good hitting, not much defense, and a 21 year career. Tenace compiled a 47 WAR with power & the ability to get on base with not much defense. Munson is not in the same WAR category, but obviously had his career cut short. He was a combination of good hitting an excellent defense.

    So you could make the case that Posada is a better hitter than any of the above. And at least not worse defensively than Tenace or Simmons. Freehan and Munson being top notch defenders, would be tough to match for anyone. So, he could be kind of the “best of the rest” as far as Catchers. But there is still a pretty big chasm to get to the Bench, Berra, Fisk, etc. level.

    So it seems voters would have to drop their standards for recent players to elect Posada. But it’s not out of the question. An .848 lifetime OPS is pretty stout for a catcher.

    • SDG says:

      Except if you’re going to judge someone purely on their bat, you have to stop comparing them to other catchers and start comparing them to all hitters. Piazza passes that comparison. I can’t think of anyone else who does.

    • Darrel says:

      848 OPS lifetime isn’t nearly as great when you factor in the era that he played in. His OPS+ is fine too by the way but the raw numbers from that time period nee to be taken with a grain of salt.

    • Rick Rodstrom says:

      The guy who Posada most reminds me of is Simmons. Professional hitter, so-so defender, very much a leader on the field and off. I think Simmons was the tougher out (he only struck out 46 times a year, always putting his bat on the ball), but Posada had more pop. Simmons was the better catcher, but Posada had the better arm. It’s close.

  6. Dano says:

    Posada never did all that much for me. Put him on a mediocre team and we wouldn’t be having much of a discussion in my opinion. There’s already too many Yankees that wouldn’t have made it had they been on any other team. Per JAWS, Posada is just a bit better than Jason Kendall and Darrell Porter, two good catchers but I doubt there is much clamor for them for the Hall of Fame.
    As for Kirby Puckett, he’d have never gotten in w/o his great personality, which turned out to be less than great after he retired.

    • Karyn says:

      I think he’s a little short, too–but he wouldn’t embarrass the Hall if he was enshrined.

    • Matt says:

      I hate when people make this argument. It’s just simply not true. Name a player on the Yankees that is in the Hall of Fame that wouldn’t make it if they were on another team.

      If anything, it’s HARDER to make the Hall of Fame by playing on the Yankees. Don Mattingly got compared to Kirby Puckett all the time and hasn’t sniffed the Hall whereas Kirby made it easily. Mussina isn’t in. Neither is Cone; he is already off the ballot. Bernie is off the ballot. Mussina should be in the Hall, but not the others. But if what you said was true, these players WOULD be in the Hall of Fame.

      • Stephen says:

        Well, Phil Rizzuto, whom I mentioned upstairs.

        Not at all sure that Joe Gordon gets in if he hadn’t been a Yankee, though that’s probably not as clear a case.

        Tony Lazzeri had two or three really good years and not much more than that, but he was the SS for a team that usually won the pennant, and he’s now a Hall of Famer.

        You’re of course right that this tendency has been less pronounced among more recent players such as Mattingly and Williams (though I would not go as far as to say that playing for NY makes getting into the HoF harder). But I sure can’t imagine Phil Rizzuto coming anywhere near election if he’d spent his career with the Senators, the Tigers, or the Braves.

        • Stephen says:

          Lazzeri was 2B, of course, not SS. Still, good-hitting middle infielder; close enough.

        • Patrick says:

          “But I sure can’t imagine Phil Rizzuto coming anywhere near election if he’d spent his career with the Senators, the Tigers, or the Braves.”

          Me either, but is that Yankee bias or “playing on a Pennant/World Series-winning team” bias?

          But suppose it is pro-Yankee bias. If the strongest cases of pro-Yankee bias are three guys who never even came close to election via the writers, and then took decades to get in via the veteran’s committee, that’s pretty weak evidence. There are lots of questionable HOFers that got elected a lot quicker than the half-century it took Joe Gordon

      • SDG says:

        The tendency to say that comes from the Murderers Row era players, many of whom are in who shouldn’t be, and Rizzuto. Recently, I don’t think it’s been the case that Yankees face higher standards than other players (although it’s not any harder for them either). We’ll see. This is the first Yankee dynasty in a while and its main players are now coming up for election. Let’s see if some future VC puts Posada in.

  7. SDG says:

    This isn’t really about Posada, but I think there should be more catchers in the Hall. The catching equivalent of Ozzie Smith or Bill Mazeroski. It’s by common consensus the most important position, and there are no all-glove no-bat guys who come close to the Hall, (excluding VC picks who played before television and top every list of “Hall of Fame mistakes”). Even the near-miss guys like Munson or Tenace – it’s purely about their offense.

    I’m not sure how we’d do it though. The only defensive thing we can quantitatively judge a catcher on is throwing out runners, and people don’t steal much any more. I know fangraphs is doing some cool stuff with pitch framing. Catcher ERA remains a black box.

    • invitro says:

      “It’s by common consensus the most important position” — Is this true? I’m thinking that as many people might choose shortstop as catcher.

      • Richard says:

        Well, if you don’t have a catcher, you’re going to get a lot of passed balls……

        • Hudson Valley Slim says:

          Ha! But it is equally true for middle infielders – underrepresented in the Hall. Offense rules for the voters. How many votes did Mark Belanger get or Sundberg get? This has all been rifled through. I hope Posada makes it through the first pass and warrants more discussion. Hall of Very Good in my opinion.

          • SDG says:

            There are 20 2B, and 23 SS compared to 17 C and 16 3B. C and 3B also have more Negro Leagues players in there than 2B and SS (so the differences are more stark if you look at just the writer picks).

  8. Mike says:

    Why do people seem to ignore Jorges OBP and slugging / OPS? .374 .474 .848 and OPS+ of 121. Much better than Pudge. Really not close. .334 .464 .798 106.

    Why is Pudge a lock HOF? Is it simply longevity? Reputation similar to Ozzie vs. Trammell?

    • Douglas Bisson says:

      Rodriguez has 13 Gold Gloves and Posada has none. Pudge is 8th in career defensive WAR and first among catchersIn career WAR, he ranks 3rd while Posada is 17th. Pudge won an MVP award and was selected for 15 All-Star teams. Posada was a very good player; Pudge was great.

      • Matt says:

        Yea but that shouldn’t come at the expense of Posada. It’s like saying Tom Glavine was never the best pitcher on the Braves when Greg Maddux was his teammate.

        No one is considering that Posada should be in because of his defense.

        • Patrick says:

          I think lots of voters are considering that his poor defense was an issue. As they should. It’s not necessarily a disqualification (See, Mike Piazza) but the idea that all we should consider from any player—let alone a catcher—is offense seems misguided.

    • invitro says:

      Longevity is not a major factor with IRod… his WAR7 is #4 all-time. IRod was of course a much, much better hitter than Ozzie, and since he won 13 GG’s, and Ozzie won “only” 14, it’d be very hard to suggest that Ozzie can make up the difference with defense. To say that IRod isn’t a lock, you’d have to deny not only his dWAR, which may be easy, but also those 13 GG’s, which is not easy… heck, it’s impossible. A 106 OPS+ combined with 13 GG’s is a HoF lock at any position, let alone catcher. (Of course, steroid rumors will be a problem, and I suppose we’ll talk about that in a couple weeks.)

      • invitro says:

        I forgot about Keith Hernandez, of the 128 OPS+ and 11 GG’s. So strike the “lock at any position”, please. 🙁 🙂

    • Darrel says:

      I think people might be surprised by Pudge’s lack of HoF support. I’m not sure there has ever been a more obvious steroid user, this side of Bonds, without a positive test. Starting with Canseco’s book to the massive weight loss right after testing began to the sharp downturn in offensive production that accompanied that weight loss. This is more than a whisper about Jeff Bagwell. I-Rod was almost certainly a PED user and I’d be surprised if those not voting for Clemens, Bonds et al voted for him.

      • jpdg says:

        I totally agree. And he was featured prominently in the Mitchell Report. Piazza, a guy who should have sailed in on the first ballot, was in neither Canseco’s book nor the Mitchell Report and he took a few years to get in. The closest thing to a steroid connection that existed was being Murray Chass up his bacne.

        • SDG says:

          I think it was more the perception he was weak on defense and that the writers really don’t like electing catchers that kept Piazza out more than the bacne rumors. He still got in faster than any catcher besides Yogi, Bench, and Fisk. He got in faster than Gary Carter (higher career and peak WAR, won a world series instead of losing one), than Campanella (3 MVPs, part of a dynasty).

          Rodriguez gets in but he goes several rounds in the balloting. My sense is that for a guy whose rep is almost purely defensive, the steroid moralists aren’t going to care as much. It will take time, he will be kept of a few ballots to “send a message”, like how a bunch of people refused to vote Alomar in the first time, but he didn’t break any sacred records so the writers won’t see him the same way.

      • Patrick says:

        “I think people might be surprised by Pudge’s lack of HoF support.”

        He’s at 83% through 63 ballots. Bonds/Clemens are at 71%!7731&ithint=file,xlsx&app=Excel&authkey=!AE2Lu5P1f92OW8o

      • MikeN says:

        I’d agree except he had no business winning that MVP award. I remember Rob Neyer had an article a few days before they announced, evaluating the top 8 candidates, I think it was Jeter #1 and Pedro 2nd. Where did IRod rank on Neyer’s list? He wasn’t even included in the article!

      • Simon says:

        Agreed. This is a year-by-year list of Pudge’s OPS+ from age 19. Try to guess when steroid testing was introduced:

        Here’s OPS+ for another player, whose career mostly overlaps, who has not been the subject of roid rumors. Guess when testing started?
        85 (in injury-shortened 60 game season)

        Let’s do it again:

        Maybe it’s just a coincidence.

  9. Ian says:

    Does Mauer get in?

    • Darrel says:

      Only if people see his career as that of a C and not a 1B.

      • Karyn says:

        He has more than twice as many innings as catcher than as 1B. And more than twice as many games at catcher than at all other positions combined (1B, DH, and once at RF).

        He’s a catcher.

        • Patrick says:

          “He has more than twice as many innings as catcher than as 1B. And more than twice as many games at catcher than at all other positions combined (1B, DH, and once at RF). He’s a catcher.”

          Right, except his career is not over. If he plays another two years, mostly at first, and winds up with 885 games at C and 650 elsewhere, it gets a little trickier to draw that distinction.

          • Karyn says:

            If he puts in 2,000 more innings at 1B, he still has an extra 2,500 innings at C.

            If the man retired tomorrow, he’d be a Hall of Famer at catcher.

    • poscastfan says:

      Maybe, if he can hold down a job fixing other players plaques on the wall.

      • Karyn says:

        How is Joe Mauer not a Hall of Fame player? He has been a great hitting catcher, and was around league average defensively for the position. He won an MVP, as well as several Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards (for whatever they’re worth). He’s still relatively young–2017 will be his age 34 season. If he hits a few milestones in the next couple of years, he should get in just fine.

        • Douglas Bisson says:

          Mauer’s peak was impressive. He’s ninth in career WAR among catchers. He has separated himself from the likes of Posada, Munson and Tenace. But he is now a replacement-level first baseman with little power, so it is not certain how long he will continue to play and compile stats (even at $23 million a season). I believe he will make the Hall (but it may take some time).

          • Karyn says:

            If he can get to 2,000 hits, 1,000 R, and 1,000 RBI (that last might be a stretch), I think he’ll get in. He’s signed through 2018, and he’s basically untradeable–so he’s likely to retire as a Twin. Two more decent seasons of around 2.0 bWAR, and I think he’s in.

  10. ajnrules says:

    My favorite nugget of information from the Verducci article was that Posada’s wife was a softball pitcher whose games he umpired when he was in high school. I just think that’s so great.

  11. Alter Kacker says:

    Of course Posada gets in eventually — high caliber performer at a key position and highly respected leader of a New York Yankee dynasty. It’s hard to check more BBWAA boxes than that.

    • SDG says:

      Except the BBWAA doesn’t like voting for catchers. The few that do get in wait years. Besides that, I agree with you. Writers care mostly about offense (and Posada’s looks better than it is due to era and position). He absolutely brings it on “intangible” stuff – leader rep, durable, played for a dynasty, no scandals, stayed in playing shape, never said anything controversial in interviews. On the other hand all that applies to Dale Murphy and he never got close.

    • Darrel says:

      Why is playing with good teammates any more reason to elect a guy to the HoF than playing with bad teammates is a reason to not vote for a guy for MVP. I can’t make sense of the fact that because the Yankees were able to put a bunch of superstars around him makes him a better player and a more likely HoF’r.

    • Patrick says:

      The level of certainty expressed in this comment really doesn’t match up with what’s actually occurred so far. He’s appeared on just 8% of the ballots thus far. He’s much more likely to be one-and-doned than elected, at least by the BBWAA

  12. :-) says:

    A great defensive catcher is not that much better for a team than a serviceable defensive catcher. A truly bad defensive catcher is a disaster. So you need to put someone back there that is at least servicable (but being above average isn’t going to help the team but so much so shouldn’t make you HOF worthy)

    Once you have narrowed down to the group of serviceable catchers, you now have some who can hit better than others. Since it is a specialized position (like pitching), it is somewhat a coincidence when it happens to line up that someone can be a serviceable catcher and an above-average MLB hitter.

    If you do have a guy who can go back there an catch decently and is a good hitter (not necessarily HOF numbers if he was playing 1b), then he may be HOF calibre because you have to consider that, if he wasn’t catching, someone else would be who would be hitting like an average catcher hits.

    I.E. you should compare a catchers hitting production with that of the average catcher. If it is considerable higher then he should be HOF.

    The comment in Joe’s article about comparing Posada’s offense to Will Clark shows the potential error one can make. If Posada was playing 1b, then his team would have to find another servicable catcher who would hit like catchers do. Since he was playing catcher (and still producing offensively) he opened up a spot on his team to hire a 1B who should be a better hitter.

    Catchers like Lance Parrish, Javy Lopez, Jason Kendall and Benito Santiago should all be considered for HOF based on their offense compared to an average catcher.

    • Karyn says:

      Parrish, Lopez, Kendall, and Santiago were not quite similar; Lopez was the most balanced as a hitter and as a defender. If you include Posada in that group, he’s clearly the best hitter. The others did not do enough defensively to overcome their relative lack of hitting–to be considered for the Hall of Fame, I mean. They were valuable to their teams and had great careers. Just not quite top tier. And I think Posada falls short as well.

  13. birtelcom says:

    Most baseball-reference WAR by a catcher who finished his career having played for only one franchise:
    American League
    Bill Dickey 55.8 WAR
    Thurman Munson 45.9
    Bill Freehan 44.7
    Jorge Posada 42.7
    Jason Veritek 24.3
    Chris Hoiles 23.4
    Ron Karkovice 14.7

    National League
    Johnny Bench 75.0
    Roy Campanella 34.2
    Mike Scioscia
    Harry Danning 15.3
    Wes Westrum 12.1

  14. Rick Rodstrom says:

    If by “catcher” you mean “catching the ball”, Posada really was lousy. Not only did Posada lead the league in passed balls twice, he came in second five other times (it helped that Tim Wakefield was driving Red Sox catchers nuts during that time). Posada’s poor pitch framing inspired a whole cottage industry who wanted to know how many runs a catcher could lose by clumsy handling of borderline strikes (the answer was a lot). According to one report, “Jorge Posada could hit like Albert Pujols and Jose Molina could hit like Jose Molina, and Molina would still be better.” So until Jose Molina gets into the Hall, Posada will just have to wait.

    • Stephen says:

      That’s a remarkably…peculiar…statement, about Molina being better than Posada if Posada hit like Pujols. I know WAR is not the be-all and end-all by any means, but, good grief, Posada’s WAR total (as Posada, not as Posada-behind-the-plate-and-Pujols-at-bat) stands at 42.7 for his career, Molina’s at…2.9.

      Not to mention that Posada played regularly for one of the best (and richest) teams in recent history, a team that could easily have replaced him with Jose Molina or the general equivalent, but never chose to do so. (Indeed, when they did get Molina they used him sparingly as a backup.) As for Molina, he never played more than 102 games in a season and only played as many as half the games in a year three times.

      To think Molina was better than Posada-as-Posada requires a complete rejection of everything to do with WAR, and flies completely in the face of the way the two players were actually used. I know Posada was never considered a good defensive catcher, but this is exaggerated beyond all reason.

  15. Donald A. Coffin says:

    I’m interested that no one has addressed this (or did I miss something?):

    The Father’s Story:
    “As a 24th-round draft pick in 1990,” Verducci wrote, “Posada was such an uncertain prospect that he signed with the Yankees only after his father had extracted a promise from New York not to cut him in the first three seasons in the farm system.” “As a 24th-round draft pick in 1990,” Verducci wrote, “Posada was such an uncertain prospect that he signed with the Yankees only after his father had extracted a promise from New York not to cut him in the first three seasons in the farm system.”

    The Son’s Story:
    “My dad wanted to do something to make it more difficult for the Yankees to release me if I didn’t impress them from the get-go. … He fell short of his own goal. He wanted them to guarantee they’d give me three years in the organization. That’s basically unheard of, especially for a guy drafted as low as I was.
    “For their part, the Yankees did stick with standard operating procedure. They weren’t going to guarantee anything other than that I’d join the more than 1,200 guys drafted and be given a shot. What I did with that shot was up to me — not even my dad could do anything to influence that.”

    Two possibilities: The Father’s Story is true, but The Son has to deny it to assert his independence from (dominance over?) his Father. The Son’s Story is true, but The Father feels a need to take credit for The Son who has surpassed him.

    Not to go all Freudian on you all…

  16. […] he has a case, and that case deserves to be debated. Many writers over the past few weeks, from Joe Posnanski to Grant Brisbee to Jon Heyman, have presented the argument for Posada, who was one of the […]

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