The above-average Jorge Posada

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(From Flickr user Malingering via a Creative Commons license.)

Earlier this month Nick Swisher started his surge. Using the West Coast trip as a springboard he brought his numbers back up to league average and then kept on going. Since hopping on the plane to Seattle he’s hit .312/.437/.613 in 119 PA, raising his season line to .245/.366/.412. That’s still not up to the standard he set in 2009 and 2010, but it is right in line with the MLB average right fielder. Swisher has come a long way, and the offense has benefitted from his turnaround.

The next player on the list of Yankees to turn around his season is Jorge Posada. At around the same time that Swisher began his comeback, I complained that Jorge’s lack of production was killing the Yanks. Indeed, they had the worst production in the league at DH, and by no small margin. While they still reside in the bottom half of the AL, they’ve climbed the ranks a bit and now rank 11th in DH production with a .689 OPS. If Posada continues his improvement they should reach the middle of the league in short order.

While Jorge’s numbers look good since the incident against Boston — .325/.400/.494 in 95 PA — the real turnaround started on the same West Coast trip that spurred Swisher’s season. Since the start of the LA series he has gone 22 for 56, which adds up to a .393/.435/.589 line. It has brought his season line up to .234/.327/.411, which amounts to a 99 OPS+. That makes him just about average, but slightly on the below side. But, since I greatly prefer wRC+ to OPS+, since it more fairly values each type of on-field event, we can look to that. He’s at 101 wRC+ (.324 wOBA), or just slightly above league average.

Jorge doesn’t even have very far to go before he reaches league average DH status. The AL average DH hits .263/.343/.412. If he somehow goes 0 for 0 with 5 walks in his next game, he’ll be right there. Even with a more normal batting line, one that includes some outs, he should be about a week away from reaching the AL average DH level. That’s quite remarkable given the way his season started, and how for a few months it didn’t seem to get any better.

When I think of how Jorge has turned it around after an unimaginably slow start, I immediately turn to David Ortiz’s 2009 season. On June 5 he hit a low point, hitting .188/.281/.288 through 221 PA (as many as Jorge has currently). From that point on he hit .266/.360/.557 in 406 PA. It’s easy to see Jorge pull something similar, especially given the way he’s hit lately. Earlier in the season it was more difficult to envision an Ortiz-like turnaround, because almost nothing was going right for Jorge. But that’s entirely the point. When a player is going as poorly as Ortiz in 2009 and Jorge this year, it looks like they have absolutely nothing left. Only a measure of faith from management can keep that player afloat.

While things looked bleak early in the season, the outlook for Jorge Posada’s season has turned around. He’s put up big numbers in June and has regained some faith along the way. If he can continue some semblance of this performance for the rest of the season it will help the Yankees not only in the runs column, but also on the trade deadline to-do list. It’s one potential need crossed off the list. His turnaround also has the benefit of shutting up people like me, who count him out when he’s at his worst.

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  • Tom Swift

    I am really surprised at Posada’s resurgence. I wonder if he has another year left in him as a first baseman (obviously not for the Yanks and on a very cheap contract).

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

      Well if he continues as league average going forward I definitely think that if he wants it there will be 1-year DH/1B offers available to him of the few million dollars a year variety. But not from the Yanks.

      • Gonzo

        I could definitely see a team taking a flyer on Jorge. Shoot, someone might even let him be a back-up catcher to go along with some other duties.

        • Voice of Reason

          No doubt. Still not clear on why the Yankees are allergic to letting him catch, but a guy who can play catcher (even poorly) is a heck of a lot more valuable than one who can play 1B poorly/DH. He’s going to have plenty of options if he wants to stick around.

          • Rick in Boston

            The Yankees are probably concerned on two fronts about putting Posada behind the plate: he was never a good defensive catcher and his skills have regressed significantly over the last few years. In other words, he sucks behind the plate. You can fake bad defense at other positions, but not catching.

            Also, Posada missed time last year for a concussion. The Yankees are probably (rightfully) worried about his long-term health and the potential for another head injury.

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

              Thirdly, having him not catch reduces the wear and tear on his body and theoretically allows him to be a healthier and more productive hitter.

              The team was concerned about the bad defense, the injury risk, and the negative effect that catching might have on his bat.

              • radnom

                Fourthly, what do they gain by having him catch? If you do that, you DH another regular but then you have to put a bench player in at a different position. Really not that much to gain for all the risks.

          • Ted Nelson

            “Still not clear on why the Yankees are allergic to letting him catch”

            Because they have some morals and would prefer his brains not turn to mush… how is that not clear?

            Again, how is your handle “Voice of Reason?”

            • Everything the Yankees Do Is Intelligent

              a thousand apologies, Mr. Nelson

            • CMP

              If Posada’s medical condition was that precarious, he shouldn’t even be on the field in any capacity so stop with the “Yankee morality” stance because I don’t believe it for one second.

              The reason the Yankees don’t want him behind the plate is because his defense was horrible last year and figures only to get worse as he gets older. Anything else is just an attempt to put a spin on the situation that doesn’t embarass Posada.

              • CP

                If Posada’s medical condition was that precarious, he shouldn’t even be on the field in any capacity

                That’s not true. The chances of him getting hit in the head while batting are relatively slim, while the chances of him getting a foul tip to the head while catching or getting run over blocking the plate are almost 100%.

                Of course, the concern is not completely altruistic. The Yankees are certainly worried that another concussion could cause him to miss significant time or cause a significant decline in his production.

                • CMP

                  How about getting hit in the head breaking up a DP or a collision at home plate as a baserunner or hit by a foul ball in the on deck circle, etc.

                  There are plenty of ways to get him in the head other than catching.

                  Besides, nothing happened between the end of last season when he was catching and the beginning of this season other than the Yanks signing Russell Martin.

                  This was an easy way to get Posada out from behind the plate without him going ballistic like he did when the tried to bat him 9th.

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

                    There are plenty of ways to get him in the head other than catching.

                    Agreed. That doesn’t mean that making him a DH-only instead of a catcher doesn’t dramatically decrease his injury risk though; clearly, it does.

                  • CP

                    The chances of Posada breaking up a DP are pretty slim. If he’s that close to second, then whoever is running to first would have to be crawling to make the play close.

                    Also, if he’s running the bases coming home, then he can easily avoid a collision.

                    It’s impossible to avoid a foul-tip off the head. And difficult to avoid one while trying to tag someone out at home.

                    As for what happened, I believe there were reports that his cognitive tests were worse than expected at his exit physical. You’re right that he didn’t get another concussion over the winter, but that doesn’t mean ‘nothing happened.’

                    • Ted Nelson

                      “If he’s that close to second, then whoever is running to first would have to be crawling to make the play close.”

                      Better not bat Andrew Jones behind Posada…

                      Seriously though, I agree with you guys that it’s health and other reasons (defense, staying fresh, having a good DH) in some combination… and whatever the combination there are clearly reasons that are easy to understand even if you disagree. My problem is just with choosing the handle “Voice of Reason”… and then making a bunch of unreasonable comments.

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

                If Posada’s medical condition was that precarious, he shouldn’t even be on the field in any capacity so stop with the “Yankee morality” stance because I don’t believe it for one second.

                Not quite. To wit:

                Scenario A) Hitting and running the bases only.

                Scenario B) Hitting, running the bases, catching baseballs thrown at you at 90+ miles an hour while men stand near you swinging a heavy wooden club, blocking the plate as men attempt to bowl you over at full speed and dislodge an object from your grasp, and catching popups while you and your teammates all converge on a spot on the field while nobody is looking at each other

                Scenario A is a marked decrease in concussion risk from Scenario B. There’s a reason they sardonically refer to catching equipment as the tools of ignorance; you’d have to be dumb (or at least foolhardy) to expose yourself to that kind of physical grind and injury risk nightly.

                • CMP

                  If the Yankees suspect he has some type of cognitive dysfunction as a result of head trauma, he should be placed in scenario C where he retires and there is little to no chance he can sustain any further head trauma.

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

                    Counterargument: The Yankees don’t think he has a cognitive dysfunction but simply has a history of concussions and thus are attempting to lessen his risk of having a new concussion and thus, developing a cognitive dysfunction.

                    • CMP

                      Unless I’m mistaken, I was under the impression that is was reported that Posada had declined on his some of his neurological testing which would mean there is ALREADY some cognitive dysfunction

                    • Mister Delaware

                      What if Posada were to tell the Yankees “either you let me catch 2 times per week or I’m going to become a professional boxer”? What does the conscientious franchise do then?

                    • Ted Nelson

                      “What if Posada were to tell the Yankees “either you let me catch 2 times per week or I’m going to become a professional boxer”? What does the conscientious franchise do then?”

                      You tell him you’re not letting him catch, and whatever he chooses to do in retirement is on him.

                      The Yankees directly control whether he catches. They have basically no control over what he chooses to do outside of baseball… even if he does things he’s contractually not allowed to they can’t stop him, just cut him.

                      I don’t think it’s all health, but I think that’s a part of it… and enough that the “Voice of Reason” was being unreasonable to say it’s unclear why the Yankees are allergic to him catching. There are several clear reasons… if Voice of Reason disagrees that’s one thing, but saying they are unclear is unreasonable.

                • Voice of Reason

                  Presumably his point was that if Posada were younger, more spry, and better at throwing out baserunners, the Yankees would be letting him catch. And he would be correct. Of course they don’t want him to get his brain scrambled, but please. They just don’t think he can catch anymore, that’s why he’s not back there.

                  • CMP

                    Exactly the point I was trying to make.

                    While I think the Yankees wouldn’t intensionally put a player in harms way, if Posada was playing like a young Ivan Rodriguez behind the dish, he’d still be catching.

                    • MikeD

                      That’s correct, because they would risk his long-term health. Right now there is no need, too. No, that’s not a joke.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      “if Posada was playing like a young Ivan Rodriguez behind the dish, he’d still be catching.”

                      If they thought he was at a really elevated risk of missing time with concussions, they’d probably try him out at other positions. By 1994 Pudge was regularly posting .350+ wOBAs and could have DHed or played any position he might have fielded reasonably well… rather than missing significant time with concussions every season.

                      It’s hard to say exactly what they’d do in some hypothetical situation, or even what they should do. My point was that it seems pretty clear why he’s not catching, not unclear. There are more intangible elements like his terrible D and injury risk and freshness… but concussions alone are a clear and tangible reason he’s a DH.

                  • Ted Nelson

                    Thanks for reading their minds for us… very reasonable comment.

                    • Voice of Delusion

                      The Yankees would never let anyone catch under any circumstances if they had suffered a concussion in the previous season. They’re just that conscientious. That is a far more reasonable assumption than to think it was a slightly-too-reactive baseball-related decision.

    • YankeesJunkie

      While Jorge’s surge this season has been good and all it is way to early to say that he has another year in him. I’d much rather see Montero in the majors getting time at DH and C rather than signing an even older Posada to 1 year deal unless it is really cheap which it won’t be.

      • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

        I don’t recall a single comment wherein anyone stated that this additional year for Posada would with the Yanks and thus block Jesus. Or our other 4 DHs :)

        In fact to the contrary everyone stated it’d be for another team.

  • Gonzo

    Hooray for Jorge! I was one of the few that stuck up for him on RAB. It was tough going, but statistics don’t lie.

    • Ted Nelson

      I’m not sure what stats lying has to do with it…

      • 24fan

        Many here discounted Jorge’s unsustainable BABIP as him just being old, instead of recognizing he was probably getting very unlucky early in the season.

        • Ted Nelson

          I agreed at the time his BABIP was unsustainable, but I still think Gonzo is hinting at something that’s not true… being that you can accurately predict the future with stats. You can get an idea of the probability of certain things happening, but you can’t say for certain what will happen. Stats don’t lie, but anyone who interprets them to say they knew exactly what Jorge’s 2011 stats would be is almost definitely lying. You might have also thought that Aaron Hill couldn’t possibly maintain a .196 BABIP for all of (580 PAs) 2010… but you would have been wrong.

          • Mister Delaware

            All last year I was saying Aaron Hill couldn’t possibly maintain a .189 BABIP and I was yet again proven right.

          • Gonzo

            Why not stop trying to put words in my mouth. Maybe after you stop doing that, you won’t have a problem with what I write.

      • Gonzo

        Did I say stats lie?

  • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

    I admit I was a full on basher. It wasn’t just the results…it was the way it looked as it was happening. He looked old, slow and lost at the plate. Now I guess I am in the happy and hopeful camp.

    I don’t think the timing of the start of the turn around was at all a coincidence. After he calmed down from his hissy fit I think he took a good hard look in the mirror, dug deep, and reminded himself that he had too much pride – and was a better player – to go so gently into the night. I seriously do think the process led to a mental (re)commitment to life in his new role as full time DH. All supposition of course.

    • Ricky

      Not to mention his son’s medical condition. This is the area that is impossible to quantify but you can certainly understand if Jorge was distracted in the days/weeks/months leading up to yet another major surgery for his son.

      • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

        Ah I’d forgotten about that (bad parent!) and completely agree.

    • CP

      Personally, I think this is the way that a typical bad slump develops. He started out hitting the ball well and just got very unlucky. Then he started to get more and more out of whack at the plate. Eventually it completely blew up, and he got back to what made him a HOF caliber player.

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

    Jorge doesn’t even have very far to go before he reaches league average DH status. The AL average DH hits .263/.343/.412. If he somehow goes 0 for 0 with 5 walks in his next game, he’ll be right there.

    I now know what to root for against the Brewers Monday night.

    WALK! WALK! WALK!

    • jon

      well if the front office is right grenkie is going to explode under the pressure of pitching in nyc so it may happen

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

        Ah, my other favorite new dumb concept:

        that how Greinke pitches tomorrow (as a visiting member of the Brewers, mind you) will be an effective referendum on the wisdom of the Cashman braintrust’s decision against trading for Grienke* due to questions about his ability to handle the pressures of pitching in New York as a Yankee.

        ————

        (*And the prospect cost surrendered to make that gamble, don’t forget that part.)

        • CMP

          Ah, so the narrative now is not that Greinke can’t pitch in NYC but that he can’t pitch in NYC while a member of the Yankees. Cashman should have made himself clear on the subject.

        • CMP

          Because it makes sense that it’s less pressure to pitch in Yankee stadium with the fans cheering against you instead of for you.

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

            Yes, because clearly, Yankee fans always cheer their own, through good times or bad.

            (rolls eyes)

            • CMP

              Yes because Yankee fans are sadistic and hope and pray for new acquistions to fail because nothing gives them more pleasure than booing them unmercifully.

              (rolls eyes too)

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

                Yeah, Yankee fans treated me excellently from day one.

                Sincerely,
                Alex Rodriguez

                • Mister Delaware

                  He wasn’t clutch at handling fan reactions until October 2009.

                • http://www.youcantpredictbaseball.com bexarama

                  Everyone’s been so nice to me!

                  Love,
                  Rafael Soriano

                  • http://www.youcantpredictbaseball.com bexarama

                    (to be fair, I think the NYC pressure thing is mostly silly, but acting like fans are always behind players is similarly silly)

          • Voice of Reason

            I rather doubt it was a fear that Greinke would under-perform as a direct result of NY pressure and be some predictable amount worse as a Yankee than he would be anywhere else that drove the decision. May not have even been a belief that his anxiety issues are more likely to crop up again in NY than anywhere else. It probably has more to do with the fact that there is a risk inherent in acquiring a player with a history of severe anxiety problems that had threatened his career, and the Yankees were unwilling to ignore that risk. Chances are, if the Yankees had traded for Greinke he would have been fine and would be kicking ass for them right now, but is that a chance a team like the Yankees need to take? Can’t blame Cashman for erring on the side of caution though, I know I’d do the same.

        • pete

          that how Greinke pitches tomorrow (as a visiting member of the Brewers, mind you) will be an effective referendum on the wisdom of the Cashman braintrust’s decision against trading for Grienke* due to questions about his ability to handle the pressures of pitching in New York as a Yankee over the course of an entire (and/or multiple) season(s).

          What Greinke does tomorrow night will say nothing about the wisdom of Cashman’s staying away from him because it will most likely be between 4 and 8 innings worth of performance. All other inconsistencies in the comparison will be made irrelevant by that fact.

      • CP

        He does have a career 8.82 ERA at Yankee Stadium

        • Rick in Boston

          Ouch, that line is ugly.

          • http://www.youcantpredictbaseball.com bexarama

            To be fair, I think a big part of it is due to what was IIRC a 0 IP, 5 ER (!) relief appearance in the game where A-Rod hit his 500th HR.

            • http://www.youcantpredictbaseball.com bexarama

              Also, he has only four appearances, and the last one was in 2008. None of them were great (the best was a 6 IP, 2 UER appearance, but the other three were much worse). I don’t think it’s really relevant.

              • CP

                Quit raining on my parade!

                I believe that the 8.82 ERA is completely predictive of how he’ll perform on Tuesday, and nothing will convince me otherwise.

  • Cris Pengiuci

    Great to see the turn around from Posada. I was hopeful he’d do this, but not overly optomistic that it could happen. Was certainly more optomistic on the Swisher turn around. Definitely hope they both continue to bring their lines back closer to career norms for them. Now, if Jeter can come back and go on a tear and end up with a .280/.350/.380 or so line, I’d be overjoyed!

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

      Methinks disappointment is headed your way. Unfortunately.

      • Mister Delaware

        Seriously. The isoP is going to be better than .100.

  • Voice of Reason

    I accept your apology, Joe.

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

      Was waiting for that.

  • MikeD

    He was in a slump, he was adapting to being a full-time DH, he knew he was in the last year of his contract, and was staring his own baseball mortality in the eye. He was pressing.

    A player is allowed a slump when he’s younger. A player is not allowed a slump when he’s older without the assumption that he’s simply old. If a player sticks around long enough, eventually that assumption will turn out to be correct. The difficult part for an organzation is determining when it’s a slump or when it’s age.

    Jorge, at his best, was always a guess hitter. That type of hitter can look quite bad at times, and that’s what we had with Posada. I do think age is part of the equation. Perhaps his slumps will look worse than in the past, but it’s also safe to believe that Jorge is far from done.

  • Ted Nelson

    Good lesson in patience for all of us.

    • MikeD

      Trust me. There are no lessons in patience ever learned when it comes to baseball! Fans will be fans.

      • Ted Nelson

        Yeah, unfortunately I agree.

  • http://twitter.com/kschmidt2 Kiersten

    I know a lot of us knock it as a narrative, but I think there definitely was an adjustment for Jorge going from catching to DHing. It’s not like going from 1B or the OF to DH, he went from being involved in every single pitch to being involved in zero. That’s a big change, especially when you’re stuck in the worst slump of your career and all you can do is go back to the bench and think about it. Hopefully this is more than just a hot streak and Jorge has accepted and adjusted to his role and we will get more of the offense we’re used to getting out of him for the rest of the season.

    • MikeD

      I don’t knock it. I think it’s a very real issue. I think some players can adapt more quickly than others, but I think all players eventually will adapt the more they play as DH.

    • Zack D

      I’m sure there’s an adjustment, but Jorge slumped for a motnh whie catching (which I’m sure he has at one point in the last decade), then does it mean he ccouldn’t focus on hitting & catching?

  • Hester Prynne

    Jorge’s back, folks. Swisher’s back, too. If Jeter comes back and hits 9th it means 1-7 we have one of the best lineups ever assembled. And who knows, maybe Jeter will come around as well.