It’s hard to under-exaggerate just how bad the Yankee catchers were last season. In 608 plate appearances, the various folks who tried to fill in for an injured Jorge Posada hit an anemic .230 with a .290 OBP and a .335 slugging percentage. Even the most stats-phobic among us know that this is a terrible, terrible offensive line.
Overall, these Yankee catchers were the most anemic group in the AL. Their overall OPS+ was 75, worse than Boston and their All Star Catcher Jason Varitek. In fact, this votex of inoffensive offense could have single-handedly cost the Yankees a playoff spot as it was just a year ago that Jorge Posada turned in a 154 OPS+.
It is, then, with cautious optimism that I share the latest on Jorge. He is already throwing at 60 feet and feels he will be good to go once Spring Training rolls around.
Now lately, as we talked about the Yanks adding either Mark Teixeira or Manny Ramirez as their big bat, we haven’t really looked at Posada. But if the Yanks eschew Tex or ManRam, Posada’s return to the lineup might just be enough to give them that offensive edge they need in 2009.
It’s highly improbable that Posada will hit at his 2007 levels. He’s going to be playing his age 37 season in 2009, and 2007 was a career year for him. But would it be unreasonable to expect a 124 OPS+ season in line with his career averages? Could Posada turn in a .277/.380/.477? While we don’t know how his power will respond to his surgically repaired shoulder, there’s no reason to expect a steep decline for Jorge.
In 2007, Posada was responsible for 117 runs created. In 2008, Yankee catchers combined for just over 50 runs created. That swing of nearly 70 would have probably landed the Yanks into the playoff picture last year. Maybe as we talk about Teixeira and Manny, we’re just overlooking Posada. Putting Jorge back into the lineup should be a huge boost for the 2009 Yankees, and we shouldn’t forget that this winter.