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Jorge Posada, Hall of Fame? I can see noses crinkling and eyebrows elevating across web-land. The short version of events is that after hitting .272/.400/.481 in 2004, he has compiled a little more than half a Hall of Fame career at age 32. One might think that time was liable to run out on him, but as he has caught only 955 games, he is basically where you want to be at his age.

Jorge Posada was drafted by the Yankees in the 24th round in 1990, and made very slow progress to the majors, spending 3 years in A ball and 3 years in triple A. On the great Yankee teams of 97-99, he shared catching duties with Joe Girardi, before taking the whole job in 2000. He has delivered 5 great years since then, with good power, excellent plate discipline and solid defence.

Finding comparable catchers to Posada is difficult. Most catchers who hit well reach the majors much quicker than Posada and so have completed most of their catching career by age 32. The two exceptions are Carlton Fisk and Gabby Hartnett, both Hall of Famers. I have listed them, as well as Bill Freehan (who had broadly similar ability), but came up much earlier. Lance Parrish and Darrell Porter would also fit roughly in this group. Ed Bailey is listed becase Baseball Reference has him as a comparable, but really he is not similar. Bailey was a big guy, and nowhere near the hitter that Posada is, who was quite obviously near done by age 32.

Without further ado, the chart:

Player    G     AB     H     HR    W     BA    OBP   SLUG   G. CAUGHT(AT 32)  OPS+
Posada 1003 3369 910 156 562 .270 .379 .475 134 123
Fisk 1078 3860 1097 162 389 .284 .356 .489 115 127
Hartnett 1227 3982 1154 154 447 .290 .364 .490 140 123
EdBailey 1022 3129 803 145 470 .257 .355 .440 88 111
Freehan 1583 5409 1422 181 684 .263 .344 .414 63 115

Another close comp is Javy Lopez, but because Javy's career is in progress (he's 33), I didn't use him.

Posada needs to have 3-5 years like the past 5, and 2-3 respectable ones to have a Hall of Fame career. That is the Fisk/Hartnett route to the Hall. Javy Lopez, as we shall see next, is in about the same situation. My guess is that one of the two will make it, and if forced to choose, I'd say Posada.

For the Green projection method this time, we'll leave out the salt from our curry recipe and put in a few cardamom seeds. All right, inhale and pronounce:

Posada's final career statistics- .267/.375/.460, 265 homers, 950 runs scored, 1100 RBIs.

Next up: Javy Lopez.

Other catchers in this series:Mike Piazza, Ivan Rodriguez
Hall Watch 2004-The Catchers- Jorge Posada | 31 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_Chuck Van Den C - Sunday, October 31 2004 @ 08:55 AM EST (#20548) #
History shows that catchers Posada's age start to wear down, presumably because of years of abuse. Given that Posada's career got a late start, it will be interesting to see what factor age, itself, plays in the next few years. Will he start to show signs of wear simply because he is 33? Or will his late start push that off a couple of years, as many have suggested?

An interesting contrast to Posada is Ivan Rodriguez, who was born in the same year but started his major league career at 19. Rodriguez has caught 750 more games than Posada. Posada doesn't figure to catch another 750 games in his career. What will the number be? 500 maybe?
Mike Green - Sunday, October 31 2004 @ 10:11 AM EST (#20549) #
There is a huge difference in longevity between the great catchers who were worked early and hard like Bench and Carter, and those who caught relatively few games when young like Fisk, Hartnett or even Wally Schang. Good to great catchers who were worked lightly up til 27 often catch until they're 40, and I see no reason for Posada to be any different.

Now Posada did spend 6 years in the minors, and played almost 500 games there, which is probably twice the number that most great catchers do. So, in my head, I start with the 1950 catching games that is typical of great catchers, with no injury history, and subtract 250 for Posada's extra minor league work. That leaves him with a career total of 1700. He has 955 games caught to date, so that would leave him with roughly another 750.

My guess is that Posada catches another 750 games (5 seasons averaging 120 and 3 seasons averaging 50), following the Fisk/Hartnett path. But, as I've suggested, that's pretty much a 50-50 shot.
_Chuck Van Den C - Sunday, October 31 2004 @ 10:59 AM EST (#20550) #
Am I mistaken, or do I recall Posada having made a position change in the minors, thereby perhaps lowering his games caught? I don't know why I'm thinking this.

I'm rooting for Posada to make the HoF. He has been an extremely underrated player for a long, long time.
Mike Green - Sunday, October 31 2004 @ 03:25 PM EST (#20551) #
I checked, and he was drafted as a shortstop. I don't know when he was converted to catching-why does this suggest the band Bad Religion to me?:). Can a Yankee fan help out with the particulars of his conversion?
_Jim - Sunday, October 31 2004 @ 07:07 PM EST (#20552) #
To me Posada has a couple of problems.

1. He seems to me to be right on the brink of a huge slide. Just from watching the Yankees on television more then any other team he just seems to be abused more then any other catcher in the game. The Yankees refuse to get anyone else that is worthy of even 2 starts a week.

2. Jeter, Rivera, Williams, O'Neill, ect.
Posada has never been looked upon in his own city as one of the key players in the franchise's playoff run. Many sabrmetric types will look at the numbers and believe that Posada has a better case than O'Neill. Most people you talk to at Yankee stadium would put O'Neill in the HOF before Posada. There might also be a bit of a backlash from the voters as Jeter and Rivera are sure fire hall of famers and Williams has an outside (and better then Posada) chance to get in. Throw in the other 'non-core' Yankees from the era who will get in or get a lot of support (Clemens, Cone, Giambi - ignoring even his latter teammates like A-Rod and Sheffield) and I think there is at some point be a definite 'backlash' against the Yankee teams that were put together with such a huge salary advantage. Posada has been underrated like Williams, but I think most Yankee fans would agree that Williams was the better player (through 2004).

Maybe it was just the huge start after which he really slowed down that makes me feel like he'll start to fall apart quickly, but I wouldn't want to have huge money left on a contract to Posada if he was my catcher.
_Jim - Sunday, October 31 2004 @ 07:07 PM EST (#20553) #
I would agree that Posada has a better chance then Javy at this point in time.
_Mick - Sunday, October 31 2004 @ 07:49 PM EST (#20554) #
Posada moved from short because the Yankees supposedly had a massive successsion of future All-Stars at short ahead of him in the system, including Jeter, D'Angelo Jiminez and Cristian Guzman.

I don't see him making the HOF. If the Yanks had won the last three WS to get themselves into late 1940's Yankee dynasty range, then sure; his multiple rings will already help himm though Girardi and Leyritz were both ahead of him on the '96 title team and he only caught 99 and 109 games for the '98 and '99 champs. He wasn't really a regular catcher for a champ until the 2000 NY/NY matchup and he fell short by comparison to his crosstown rival, Mr. Piazza, in that one.

Speaking of suffering by comparison, in my 2004 Yankee Preview for Batter's Box, here's part of what I wrote about Posada: "Best Case Scenario: Posada solidifies his position as an All-Star and the fifth best catcher in Yankees history (seriously ... Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Thurman Munson)" -- and only two of those guys were Hall of Famers.
Mike Green - Sunday, October 31 2004 @ 08:29 PM EST (#20555) #
Here are Howard's and Munson's career numbers through age 32. As you can see, Posada is substantially ahead of them offensively.

Bill Dickey did have better numbers, as of course, did Yogi.
Mike Green - Sunday, October 31 2004 @ 08:43 PM EST (#20556) #
Paul O'Neill clearly does not belong if Fred Lynn and Reggie Smith, who had substantially better offensive numbers and more defensive value, aren't there. Bernie Williams has, as Jim points out, an outside shot. I like Posada's chances better than Bernie's when all is said and done.
_Jim - Sunday, October 31 2004 @ 08:49 PM EST (#20557) #
I don't think that O'Neill belongs in the discussion, but I believe the average Yankee fan would say that O'Neill would belong in the Hall before Posada. I would disagree with them, but I also don't think that Posada will be a major candidate when it's all said and done. I do think that Williams will be a good candidate, but probably won't get in either.
_Jim - Sunday, October 31 2004 @ 08:51 PM EST (#20558) #
Posada is a better player then Munson in my opinion. I'm 30, so the only thing I remember about Munson is his death. I don't see any way that Munson could have gotten into the Hall even if he had been able to finish his career.
Craig B - Sunday, October 31 2004 @ 10:10 PM EST (#20559) #
I don't see any way that Munson could have gotten into the Hall even if he had been able to finish his career.

I see one. If Munson had converted to 1B/DH/RF, as he probably would have done in another year or two, and he had kept his established performance level of 185 hits a year, it would have taken him 7 to 7.5 seasons to reach 3,000 hits. That's a longshot... if we say he'd have ended 1979 with 180 hits, he'd have been 1,372 hits away from 3,000.

And I have no doubt that if Munson had gotten to age 38 with 2,750 hits, he'd get whatever time was necessary to get to 3,000 barring injuries ending his career. Basically, if he'd kept up at 180-185 hits a year, he'd have got there.

That's a tall order.... James's "Favorite Toy" estimates his chances for 3,000 at 14% under those circumstances. But definitely, that's a way. No 3,000 hit man will probably ever be kept out of the hall, except under extremely weird circumstances.

I'm not even sure the Hall would turn down a catcher with 2,500 hits. The *vast* majority of the players between 2,500 and 3,000 are in the Hall of Fame (37 of 53), and they don't have the advantage of being a catcher to boot. Munson's chances for 2,500 under the circumstances I outlined would be exactly 50%.
_Jim - Monday, November 01 2004 @ 08:10 AM EST (#20560) #
'If Munson had converted to 1B/DH/RF'

I guess you are right, but he wouldn't have been a very good 1B/DH. Unless changing positions can reverse a slide where you don't hit for any power over 2 seasons.
Mike Green - Monday, November 01 2004 @ 08:51 AM EST (#20561) #
Jim commented that Posada may be overlooked because of the presence of Jeter and Rivera on this great Yankee team. It got me to thinking; who will end up with the better career- Jeter or Posada? For the last 5 years, Posada has, in my view, been clearly the better player, with far superior offence and (let's be charitable to Jeter) even defence.

Now, he is 2 years older than Jeter, and Jeter was fabulous from 1996-1999, whereas Posada was learning. My guess is that Jeter will end up with the better career, but it will be a lot closer than most people imagine.
robertdudek - Monday, November 01 2004 @ 09:30 AM EST (#20562) #
Luckily enough I have Sporting News Guides going back to 1985.

Here are the games played by position for Mr. Posada's minor league career:

1991: 71 total, 64 at second base, 11 at catcher (NY-Penn)
1992: 101 total, 41 at catcher, 5 at third base (South Atlantic)
1993: 125 total, 114 at catcher, 1 at third base (Carolina + Eastern)
1994: 92 total, 79 at catcher, 1 in outfield (International)
1995: 108 total, 93 at catcher (International)
1996: 106 total, 94 at catcher (International)

minor league career: 603 games, 432 at catcher, 64 at second base, 6 at third base and 1 in outfield.

Posada was quickly shifted to second base (this often happens to drafted shortstops when the organisation has a more agile player at the same level of development), but someone must have seen his potential as a backstop because he caught sporadically his first year in the pros.

In his second year, Posada was the primary backup to a guy you may have heard of - Tom Wilson - at Greensboro; Posada DH'ed most of the rest of the time. Obviously he was learning the position and the organisation didn't want to throw him out there full time.

From 1993 onwards he was a full-time catcher, taking the odd day off and DH'ing.
_Jim - Monday, November 01 2004 @ 09:53 AM EST (#20563) #
'Posada has, in my view, been clearly the better player'

Yeah, I don't think I could disagree more strongly.
Mike Green - Monday, November 01 2004 @ 10:14 AM EST (#20564) #
Thanks, Robert. That fills in the picture (and proves that addition wasn't my strong suit :)).

Jim, why do you feel Jeter has been the better player than Posada over the last 5 years- offense, defence, baserunning or "intangibles"?
The numbers do say pretty clearly that Posada has been the better offensive player.
robertdudek - Monday, November 01 2004 @ 10:17 AM EST (#20565) #
Here's a chart of career games caught and played by all-star caliber catchers:

Name Age(April 1,2005) majors(total) minors(total) pro(total)
Mike Piazza... 36.57 1429 (1590) 287 (387) 1716 (1877)
Javy Lopez.... 34.40 1238 (1306) 457 (526) 1695 (1832)
Jorge Posada.. 33.62 955 (1003) 432 (603) 1387 (1606)
Ivan Rodriguez 33.34 1688 (1758) 237 (271) 1925 (2029)
Jason Kendall. 30.76 1205 (1252) 263 (366) 1468 (1618)

The most amazing thing to me is that, in 2005, Ivan Rodriguez will very likely catch his 2000th profession game at the age of 33.
Mike Green - Monday, November 01 2004 @ 10:44 AM EST (#20566) #
The most amazing thing to me is that, in 2005, Ivan Rodriguez will very likely catch his 2000th professional game at the age of 33.

Me, too. That chart does tell a story. Actually, I might be able to dig up minor league figures for Bench, Berra and some of the other historical greats. I'll check tonight.
_Mick - Monday, November 01 2004 @ 11:03 AM EST (#20567) #
What other catchers are scheduled for this series, Mike? You hinted at Lopez. Are we going to make a Jason Kendall for HOF argument? Is he really only 30? Hasnt' he been with the Pirates since the We are Fam-A-Lee '79 team?
_Jim - Monday, November 01 2004 @ 11:17 AM EST (#20568) #
I guess i'm not seeing in the numbers how Posada has been a better offensive player.

OPS+ Career
Posada 123
Jeter 121

I'd rather have a SS then a C. Jeter is a top notch baserunner and has good speed. Posada is as slow as I am. Posada has never struck me as anything but an average defensive catcher.

Since we are talking about the Hall of Fame, the postseason will have a huge effect on voting.

Posada in 275 PA - 226/339/379
Jeter in 434 PA - 314/385/469

I'm not a huge believer in clutch, leadership, intangibles or anything like that - but there is just something about Jeter. He does always seem to be making a big play in a huge moment. I understand that he's had more opporunities then anyone, but Posada has had plenty of chances and the only one you come up with quickly is the tag on Little G that only happened because of the Jeter feed.

If you were to poll 1,000 yankee fans - good ones like Alex Bleth to the biggest idiot in the bleachers - I doubt you'd find 1% to say that Posada is a better player then Jeter. I've probably been to 200 Yankees games since 1993, I can't buy the argument that Posada is in Jeter's class - and I think that Jeter is one of the more 'overrated players' in the game.
Mike Green - Monday, November 01 2004 @ 01:14 PM EST (#20569) #
Jim, we're talking apples and oranges. I'm speaking over the last 5 years, and you're speaking over their careers to date. Over the last 5 years, Posada has hit .277/.394/.494 and Jeter .311/.382/.461. Mind you, Jeter has had over 400 more plate appearances during this time, and has been a very effective base stealer, as well as obviously a better baserunner. It is close actually offensively.

As for defense, here is my take. The defensive statistics (UZR et. al. showed Jeter as a terrible shortstop from 2000-2003. Mike Emeigh spent a lot of time doing PBP analysis and concluded that he was in fact below average but not as bad as the stats suggested-very poor on the DP, poor on the ball up the middle and good on the ball in the hole. Jeter's 2004 numbers were modestly above average, but he looked the same to me. I'm inclined to believe Mike Emeigh's account of Jeter's defence. There seems little dispute that Posada is a solid defensive catcher, but not one of the best in the the league.

Which is more valuable defensively, an average defensive catcher or a below average defensive shortstop? Probably about equal, maybe with a slight edge to the catcher.

Overall, on a more careful look, I'd say that Posada has a slight edge over the last 5 years.
_Jim - Monday, November 01 2004 @ 01:24 PM EST (#20570) #
Why not make it 6 years and include Jeter's career year. Why 5?
Mike Green - Monday, November 01 2004 @ 01:46 PM EST (#20571) #
I chose 5 years because Posada was not a full-time player in 1999. Jim, I'm not trying to illustrate that Posada has been a better player than Jeter so far. I thought in 97 or 98 that Jeter had a chance to be the greatest ballplayer ever. Period. He is obviously not that.

I am just pointing out that Posada has been arguably better over the last 5 years, and it shouldn't really come as a shock if he's better over the next 8. Time will tell.
Mike Green - Monday, November 01 2004 @ 02:25 PM EST (#20572) #
What other catchers are scheduled for this series, Mike? You hinted at Lopez. Are we going to make a Jason Kendall for HOF argument? Is he really only 30? Hasnt' he been with the Pirates since the We are Fam-A-Lee '79 team?

Mick, I was going to stop the catchers after Lopez. Certainly Kendall could go on to catch 2200 games and make it to the Hall by virtue of quality of performance and longevity. I don't see that as likely, but if others want to make the argument for him or Jason Varitek, I'd be happy to post it as a pinch-hit.

And, no, Kendall hasn't been around since 1979. It just seems like it. By the way, if you ever get a chance to see Whit Stillman's "The Last Days of Disco", I'd highly recommend it.
_Jim - Monday, November 01 2004 @ 02:33 PM EST (#20573) #
I believe that the writers will discount many of the accomplishments of the post strike era due to the high levels of offense being witnessed. With 300, 400, and 500 HR seeming to become more commonplace, players are going to need to be even more dominant to get in on the writerís ballot. If Fred McGriff is going to be borderline, I donít see the Posadas of the world getting in.

Even if you call Posada over Jeter a draw to this point, I think Jeter has about a 90/10 shot of having a more productive next 8 years because of his age and position if for no other reason.
Mike Green - Monday, November 01 2004 @ 02:52 PM EST (#20574) #
Take a look at Gabby Hartnett. His best season by far was 1930. He hit 37 homers and went .339/.404/.630. It sounds really good, until you realize 1930 was the hitter's year to end hitter's years. His teammate Hack Wilson hit 56 homers and went .356/.454/.723 and 5 players on the club had on-base percentages over .400.

Hartnett was inducted into the HOF easily, although his superficial numbers were subject to even greater inflation than Posada's. Hartnett is, right now, Posada's closest comp. I'm not saying that Posada is certain to end up as well as Hartnett did, but that he has a reasonable chance to, and if he does, he should be an HOFer.

Jim, I don't call Posada/Jeter a draw to this point. Jeter was a fabulous player from 1996-1999 while Posada didn't even have a regular job. For Posada to catch up, he'll have to be a lot better over the next 8, and I agree that the chances of this are small.
_Jim - Monday, November 01 2004 @ 03:44 PM EST (#20575) #
'Jim, I don't call Posada/Jeter a draw to this point'

Yeah I knew what you meant, if I could have edited that to be more clear I would have.

Sometimes I lose track if we are talking about would we vote for a player to get in or are we talking about if the writers will vote them in.

I guess that 2005 will be a huge year for Posada in this respect.
_Magpie - Monday, November 01 2004 @ 08:24 PM EST (#20576) #
I believe that the writers will discount many of the accomplishments of the post strike era due to the high levels of offense being witnessed.

We can always hope. But there are an awful lot of people in the HOF because they posted pretty offensive numbers in the 1930s....
Mike Green - Monday, November 01 2004 @ 08:31 PM EST (#20577) #
In the Bill James Player Ratings Book 1994, James commented how many minor league games Carlos Delgado had played and compared him with other great catchers. Bench played 265 minor league games, Berra 188, Cochrane 164, Dickey 249, Hartnett 100. I believe Bench was a catcher throughout his minor league career, but I don't know about the others.
Mike Green - Monday, June 18 2007 @ 02:30 PM EDT (#170046) #
Jay Jaffe does a nice job on Jorge Posada's Hall case in BP's Unfiltered section today.  He even tackles the Jeter/Posada comparison.
Hall Watch 2004-The Catchers- Jorge Posada | 31 comments | Create New Account
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