Jorge Posada’s two grand slams over the weekend did more than just help the Yankees win two games. They also served as a reminder of how important he is to the Yankee lineup, particularly when healthy enough to play behind the plate.
Despite being such an important part of the Yankees’ 15-year run of success, Posada has often been overlooked by the media and fans alike. Most recently, the push to install Posada as a permanent DH has illustrated the lack of appreciation for the role Posada has played as an “offensive catcher”. Even as his defense has started to decline, Posada’s ability to catch has always been a huge asset to the Yankees. Although his bat is strong enough to serve as DH, the Yankees’ advantage is mitigated by shifting Posada from behind the plate.
Clearly, Francisco Cervelli has emerged as a significantly better defensive catcher than Posada. However, extended playing time has also exposed Cervelli’s much weaker bat. For that reason, the Yankees should not settle on the idea of Cervelli as an everyday catcher with Posada assuming the role of DH. Regardless of who else is missing from the lineup, the Yankees need Posada to catch as much as he physically can.
As the Yankees figure out Posada’s role in the present, it’s worth taking a look back at how his career fits into a historical perspective. Over the last few years, Posada has emerged as a borderline candidate for the Hall of Fame, but how close is he to clearing the bar? Listed below are Posada’s career stats to date along side the 11 modern era catchers in the Hall of Fame as well as two contemporaries who are all but assured of enshrinement?
Career Stats of Hall of Fame Catchers And Three Most Likely Candidates From Current Era (ranked by WAR)
Note: Includes all players with at least 75% of career games as a catcher.
Jorge Posada’s Ranking Among 14 Catchers Listed Above
Among the 14 catchers included in this comparison, Posada currently ranks fourth in OPS and is tied for sixth in adjusted OPS. Even though OPS is not the best measurement of offensive production because it discounts OBP by weighting it equally with SLG, Posada’s relatively higher ranking in the former actually makes his OPS+ ranking even more impressive.
Aside from Mike Piazza, whose reputation as a strictly offensive catcher separates him from the pack, the upper echelon of Hall of Fame catchers share remarkably similar offensive numbers. Posada already possesses rate stats that place him among the all-time leaders, but does rank a notch below in accumulated totals. However, if he is able to sustain a solid level of production throughout the last year and half of his contract, he’d close that gap considerably.
In addition to the regular season, playoff performance also needs to be considered. Although Posada leads all catchers in terms of games, HRs and RBIs in the post season, his less than stellar .736 OPS doesn’t really boost his case much. Then again, just about every Hall of Fame catcher has performed well below their regular season totals (Johnny Bench and Gary Carter being the exceptions), so a selective memory (Posada had an OPS of over .900 in six series) as well as the cachet of five rings might actually improve Posada’s candidacy in the eyes of many voters.
Post Season Stats of Hall Of Fame Catchers And Three Most Likely Candidates From Current Era
In addition to having career stats that rank along side the all-time best catchers, Posada’s single season dominance has also been apparent at the position. Among all catchers in the history of the game, Posada ranks in the top-10 with seven seasons of an OPS+ above 120.
Seasons With An OPS+ Above 120
Note: Includes all players with at least 75% of games as a catcher as well as enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title.
Even if he was to retire today, Jorge Posada already has a solid Hall of Fame case. The fact that his bat shows no signs of slowing down only makes his eventual enshrinement seem all the more likely. However, Posada does have to stay healthy, and there is a legitimate concern about his ability to do that, especially if he remains playing the bulk of his games as a catcher. Still, the career of Posada highlights just how important he has been to the Yankees, and why they would be wise to take advantage of his ability to catch while they still can. Cooperstown may still be a question mark, but the fact that the Yankees are a better team with Posada behind the plate is undeniable.