Posada’s shot at Cooperstown hurt by the pinstripes?

Yanks drop opener to Sox, 6-3
The great Francisco Cervelli rant

Being overshadowed is the story of Jorge Posada's career. Credit: REUTERS/Pool-David J. Phillip

Jorge Posada’s Hall of Fame candidacy is already being debated and will continue to be debated for years.  His candidacy will likely be debated long after he either gets in or he doesn’t.  While I am a believer in his credentials, I wonder if his chances would be greater had he had an identical career in a different city, for a different team.

It sounds weird to suggest as many people believe in an East Coast Bias or Yankee Bias that brings more attention to players like Posada which should help his candidacy.  Also, had he not played for the Yankees, he clearly wouldn’t have as many rings as he does.  Despite all of that, I think Posada’s chances would be better had he spent his whole career in Atlanta, Chicago, Anaheim or another team that has had success over his 16 (and counting) year career.  Without getting too deep into his candidacy (here are cases for and against), Posada is one of the greatest hitting catchers of all time.  Whether you think he belongs or not, this really can’t be argued.  My argument is that playing for the Yankees has been detrimental to his candidacy.

Posada has never been the best player on the Yankees (his best season, 2007 happened to be the year Alex Rodriguez unanimously* won the MVP with a season for the ages) and has been far from the most recognizable.  If you were to start a list of the biggest names of the Yankees from 1995-2010, where would he fall?  Well, he’s the 4th biggest name of the “Core Four” for starters.  Then there’s A-Rod. Maybe Bernie Williams. And maybe he falls behind Brian Cashman, Joe Torre and George Steinbrenner when it comes to divvying out the credit of who helped the Yankees to 5 titles.  Is there another team in baseball where Posada could have played his career and been so far down on this list?

*Well, it would have been if two voters from Detroit didn’t vote for their own guy.

If Posada had played in Atlanta his whole career he would be right there with Chipper Jones when it comes to getting credit for position players.  While the Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz triumvirate are well remembered, Glavine hasn’t played a full season for the Braves since 2002, Maddux since 2003 and Smoltz since 2007.  While he would have long been in their shadows, he also would have had plenty of time on his own being the 2nd best, most well known player on the team.  He has not been afforded that luxury in New York where Jeter and Rivera have been bigger than him since Day 1 and continue to be, and Pettitte has been there for all but 3 years of his career.  Also, let’s assume that Posada wins a ring with Atlanta (very possible) and doesn’t have the stain of not winning a ring on his resume.  Wouldn’t Posada the Atlanta Brave be a bigger deal than Posada the New York Yankee?

What if Posada had spent his entire career in Anaheim?  Ignore for a moment that Mike Scoscia would have just benched him for being a catcher with a great bat, again, wouldn’t Posada’s career be more appreciated out of the shadows of New York (and his teammates)?  Who is the face of the Angels for the last 15 years?  Scoscia? Vladimir Guerrero?  Who else?  Guerrero spent 6 years in Anaheim, you could easily argue had Posada been an Angel, he would be the most recognizable Angel of the past 15 years.  Right or wrong, this would bolster his Hall of Fame candidacy.  Being the face of a franchise can only help when the members of the BBWAA cast their ballots.

You can run through these scenarios a million different ways, but for almost every other team during Posada’s career, he would be higher up on the pecking order of fame than he is with the Yankees.  For many baseball teams he would have been the face of the franchise for a 15 year period.  Personally I think this would outweigh the fact that he has played in New York his whole career.  Whatever benefit he has gained from playing for the Yankees, I think he has lost more by being viewed as a complimentary piece instead of the great player that he has been.  In fact, playing in New York probably has even led to more of the criticism he has come under, especially during the past few years.  The Posada Hall of Fame candidacy will be a fascinating one for the next 5, 10, maybe even 15 years.  If he can put up another solid season or two after this year maybe he jumps up to the “almost definite” category.  If he struggles (or retires) the case will be made for or against based on what he has done so far.  Either way, I think Posada’s case has been hindered by being the (relatively) small fish in a big pond.  If he were the proverbial big fish in a small pond, I think his candidacy would already be viewed in a better light.

Yanks drop opener to Sox, 6-3
The great Francisco Cervelli rant
  • Anthony Murillo

    “Posada is one of the greatest hitting catchers of all time. ”

    Which is why I believe he should be in the Hall of Fame. To be doing what he’s been doing for 16 seasons and counting is quite impressive. He hasn’t been the greatest defensive catcher but man…he does excellent things with the bat.

    He’s won five rings (and counting), he was the catcher for Boomer’s Perfect Game, and he’s been one of the more consistant bats in the Yankees lineup.

    • RLZ

      Surprised nobody has picked up on the implied issue: whether there is an anti-Yankee bias in award voting. My sense is that there has not been for the HOF in the past(eg, Earl Combs, Tony Lazzeri) but we have to see how a bunch of borderline cases do over the next decade: Bernie and Pettite as well as Posada.

      I do think, though, that there has been an anti-NYY bias in MVP voting. Run the votes against more or less objective measures–like Wins above replacement or equivalents–and Yankees have generally done worse than you would predict, especially if you add in predictive credits for 1st place standings.

      Love it that this list is discussing grammar.

      • Big Juan

        I’m not sure if the issue is anti-Yankee as much as it is that Posada’s excellent career has been overshadowed by the likes of Jeter, Rivera, A-Rod, Bernie, Pettitte and etc.

        Typically it seems that HOF want their choices to have been the best player on their team for an extended period of time. As good as Posada has been, nobody will ever mention him before Jeter and Mo when we talk about the late 90’s Yankees.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    Great article, Steve.

    Another thought: I wonder if Posada’s accomplishments gets lost in the shuffle a bit since his career overlapped the careers of Mike Piazza and Pudge Rodriguez, who are probably the greatest offensive and defensive catchers ever. Piazza had the NL All Star appearance locked up, and Pudge had the AL one locked up. Not only was he not a perennial All-Star (only 5 appearances), but he was never the best in the league at anything (because he played at the same time as two of the best ever.)

    I wonder if he’s a bit of an afterthought in his own generation thanks to nothing but not being lucky enough to be born in a bad time for catchers.

    • Reggie C.

      There’s no whiff of steroid stink on Posada unlike Pudge and Piazza. That’s got to count for something.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder


      • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

        He’s my boy and all, but I wouldn’t put money on Posada never doing steroids. If they ever release that list of 103, I wouldn’t be shocked to see his name on that at all, sadly.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          He’s certainly angry all the time.

          • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

            If my hands were constantly covered in pee, I’d be angry too.

            • http://www.retire21.org Mike R.- Retire 21

              LOL. Well you can’t spell ORDER without the pee.

  • Anthony Murillo

    I think I will always remember Posada for his bloop double off of Pedro in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. The image of him standing at second base, so fired up will always be in my mind.

    • boogie down

      Absolutely. I don’t know who was screaming louder at the moment, he or I.

      -side note, I know that the “he or I” part is a bit awkward in an English sense, but it’s correct, no? If I were to form independent sentences, I’d say, “he/I was screaming louder at the moment,” not “him/me was screaming louder at the moment.” Feedback would be much appreciated.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        This site says “I don’t know who was screaming louder at the moment, him or me” is a-ok.


        • boogie down

          Nice, thanks much.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            Although perhaps the best way to reword it and not have to make the decision of “Is it he and I or him and me?” is:

            “I don’t know whose screams were louder, his or mine.”

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      I think I found a picture of the double you’re talking about.

      http://i.ytimg.com/vi/RaqBk4cYDiQ/0.jpg (NSFW)

  • vin

    Jorge has the 6th highest OBP of all catchers who have played at least 1000 games. He has the 10th highest OPS+ among those catchers. I think if he can become the permanent DH 5 games a week for the next year or two, then he should surpass 300 hrs, and maybe some of the voters will begin to forget just how bad of a catcher he has become.

    Remember, he was actually a serviceable catcher for most of his career, then his skills seem to decline until Tony Pena joined the team. He was noticeably better that first season with Pena (2007?), but it’s been a free fall since then. No one will confuse his defensive skills with Carter or Pudge. However, his offensive longevity has been remarkable.

    I think the further we get away from the old way thinking about ballplayers (BA, RBI, etc.) the better off Jorge will be.

  • boogie down

    That picture is perfect.

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

      Makes me smile every time.

  • gargoyle

    If Varitek had Posada’s numbers he’d be a slam dunk HOFer.

    • tommydee2000

      You nailed it.

  • Rod

    The BBWAA has established a standard for the HOF. That standard is being as good or better than Jim Rice. Jorge is now nearly 9 WAR more valuable And therefor better than Rice. Therefor, Jorge is a HOFer.


  • Dalelama

    Jorge is hampered by the fact he is arguably dumbest player I have ever watched play in addition to probably the worst base runner but the man can hit.

  • Sleepykarl

    Is it really an east coast bias, or the fact that the east coast is a lot better at baseball?

  • Thomas Tu

    For what it’s worth, according to Baseball-reference.com, Posada has the 11th highest career OPS+ for catchers with at least 3000 plate appearances.

  • Brian

    I laughed all the way through this article. Posada will only get into to Cooperstown if he pays for a ticket. Mike Piazza isn’t a lock but will probably get in because he actually was an offensive force behind the plate with multiple seasons batting over .300 and driving in over 100 runs. Posada has simply not put up great offensive numbers and for most of his career has been terrible behind the plate.

    Just for fun – Mike Piazza .308 427 1335 .377 .545 .922
    Jorge Posada .277 255 1002 .378 .480 .858

    Also Posada often gets credit for winning 5 championships but how many games did he play in for the Yanks in 1996 playoffs? That would be 0 as the Yanks had Girardi and Leyritz then. Girardi was still the starting catcher in 1998 and the effectively split duty in 1999. 2000 was Posada’s first full season as the every day catcher so in essence he was a back up player for 2 championships was basically had the same role as Jose Canseco did for the Yanks in 1996. This article should have been written about a guy who is a border line candidate when he retires and that is Andy Petitte. Posada is not nearly good enough to be linked to Yogi, Bill Dickey, Elston Howard or Thurman Munson.