Jorge Posada retires – and he still isn’t Hall of Fame worthy

26 Jan

Taking heat for what you say goes with the territory. It’s possible the one thing I have said on this blog that has drawn the most ire is that Jorge Posada is not a Hall of Fame caliber player. It’s like this guy over on ESPN posting as RonBoss7 that can’t seem to accept the fact that while Jorge was nice, Jorge was not great. Jorge was not exceptional. Jorge was not the best in the game, best at his position or even the best in his lineup. Jorge was a nice complementary piece and that is about it. Before everyone goes crazy again, I’m a 35 year Yankee fan. I watched Munson, Bench, Fisk, Sundberg, Steinbach, Varitek, Dempsey, Porter, Tenace and on and on. I’ve seen good catchers and I’ve seen great catchers – Posada is okay. Just because I’m a Yankee fan doesn’t mean I can’t be objective.

Let’s face facts – Posada’s offensive numbers are pedestrian against his peers. Compare him to just the catchers to be fair and at best he is an also ran. He wasn’t the best of the 90’s because he barely played in the 90’s. 1998 was the first year he was a starter, and even in 1997, he still only got into 60 games. In ’98 and ’99 when he was the primary catcher, he still sat some 50 games a year. The reason for that wasn’t because he needed rest, it was because he was a defensive liability. There were pitchers who did not want to throw to him – Cone was noted for that as was Gooden and later on Burnett and even Sabathia did not care to throw to Posada.

Let’s be honest – Posada was a hitter that caught – not a catcher that hit.

A lot of people forget that Posada was originally signed as a second baseman back in 1990. For four years, he didn’t develop. Finally, he was given a pretty blunt choice – catch or be gone. Jorge caught. He was initially projected to be a strong hitting middle infielder – but he had no lateral moves and his arm was a bit Knoblauchish. He did have decent enough hands though, and the Yankees had no actual catching prospects, so Jorge filled the void. That is part of why it took him 7 years from his first game in the minors to land a mostly starting catching job.

By the time Posada was ready, the idea was that his offense would outweigh his defensive shortfalls until he learned the position better. It mostly did, but whether it was under Torre or Girardi (both catchers) they ALWAYS made sure they had a catcher that could actually catch a game on the bench and ready to go in any situation because Posada could not be trusted behind the plate in a close game – not in a short playoff series in particular. His offense improved, but he never improved as a defender or signal caller.

Let’s look at the claim that Posada was the catcher of last decade. To a degree, sure, if you want to play games with numbers. Posada gets that title (For offensive stats alone mind you) because aside from Ivan Rodriguez and maybe Varitek, he was the only one to play most of the decade. In the early half of the decade, Piazza and I-Rod were far superior to Posada in every aspect of the game – and that is saying something to say Piazza is the better defender. As the decade turned, Joe Mauer was obviously far better as were pretty much any of the Molina brothers – particularly Yadier. Even Russell Martin was no slouch – or lest we forget Victor Martinez kicks Posada’s butt up, down, left and right every day of the week. Posada had one thing going for him in this whole argument about best of the decade – he started all ten years of it and that was just good timing – not skill – not being the best- timing.

My final argument is that Posada was not really as valuable as everyone wants to go on about. The Yankees could win without him – they did and even in the 2009 World Series Posada made his way into the game as a pinch hitter 3 times. Jose Molina carried as much of the duties as Posada. If Posada was so indispensable, how could they limit him so much in the WS when everything was all or nothing? I won’t say Posada can’t hit, but let’s be real – he was a product of the lineup he was in. If Posada played in KC or maybe over in SD, no one would be talking about him as a 15th ballot HOF’er much less a first ballot HOF candidate.

I seriously liked the guy and enjoyed what he brought to the game, but he was not great! Get over it! If you have to start playing games like saying he had the best WAR of any switch hitting catcher between 2000-2009 that played in at least 50 games a year – you are reaching. If you have to cull Stats from Wikipedia that say he was the only catcher to do a set of several offensive accomplishments in one year while wearing pinstripes and Nike cleats – you are reaching and missing the point. The HOF is not about 1 great walk year prior to cashing in as a free agent – it is about a career. Posada had a good career. Why can’t we be content with that? Not everyone is a HOF caliber player – if they were, it would be the Hall of Everyone or the Hall of Average.

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