Jorge Posada Retires: Great Player but Not Hall Worthy
Long-time Yankee catcher, Jorge Posada, announced his retirement from baseball yesterday. A seventeen year veteran, the five-time all-star will hang them up widely regarded as one of the greatest players in Yankee history. It's safe to say that Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey are still the top two catchers in franchise history, however, Posada's intangibles makes him an important figure in Yankee lore. He personified what the Yankees were about; a professional in every facet of the game. He was a solid offensive catcher, winning five Silver Sluggers and his .848 career OPS is actually higher than Berra's. Besides his offensive prowess, Posada was a great leader on and off the field. He managed his staff well and was an integral part in a bevy of successful Yankee teams. In all, Posada's teams made the postseason 15 out of his 17 professional seasons, winning four World Series rings in the process. Posada was a good player for a long-time and I would be shocked if he didn't remain around the game for years to come as a manager or bench coach.
Despite all of that high (deserved) praise, I'm sort of shocked to hear all of the chatter supporting Posada's eventual Hall of Fame candidacy. To be frank, I just don't see it. Because he's a catcher and because he played in the steroid era, it would be safe to assume that he could receive a little extra consideration but the biggest gripe that I have with Jorge Posada is Javy Lopez.
Javy Lopez was up for Hall of Fame consideration for the first time this year. In his first year of eligibility, Lopez fell well shy of the 5% required to remain on the ballot and thus will no longer be on the ballot moving forward. When you compare the numbers, Lopez had a higher career batting average, he averaged more HR per 162 than Jorge (and fell only 15 HR shy of Jorge's cumulative HR total despite playing 2 fewer seasons), he was more successful in the postseason (hit 10 HR in 15 postseason series compared to Jorge hitting 10 in 15; he also had a higher triple slash line in the postseason) and from what I saw, Javy was a better defensive catcher (had a higher career fielding percentage, better range and caught some of the greatest pitchers of this generation with the Braves). To make my point clear, in no way am I insinuating that Javy Lopez belongs in Cooperstown but given the facts, I don't see how you make the leap from Javy Lopez earning 0.2% support to Jorge Posada being a Hall of Famer. One might assume that the writers connected their own dots with Javy to explain his surprisingly low Hall of Fame support. Although Lopez was never formally implicated as a PED-user, he did make some bizarre comments about a race car driver using "nitro" to help win races. He subsequently hit 43 HR in a contract year, 2003 at the age of 32, besting his previous career high of 34, which came five years earlier. I don't know if that is the case. I just think that the writers looked at the body of work and said that Javy Lopez, the three-time all-star, was just not in the same class as the thirteen other catchers enshrined in Cooperstown, and I agree with that. And if you agree with that, it's hard to not to come to the same conclusion regarding Jorge Posada.