What Went Wrong: Jorge Posada

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What Went Wrong: Alex Rodriguez

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to look back at what went right, what went wrong, and what went as expected during the 2011 campaign.

(AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

After more than a decade behind the plate, the Yankees decided that Jorge Posada‘s days as a catcher were done last offseason. They signed Russell Martin in December, making Posada’s transition to DH official. The Yankees had concerns not just about his defense, which had deteriorated to unacceptable levels, but also his long-term health. Jorge scored poorly in two of the three ImPACT tests he took in 2010, the result of countless foul tips to the head over the years.

Everyone knew the statistics, or at least it seemed that way. Posada was just a .223/.336/.358 career hitter in 350 career plate appearances as a DH coming into the season, a performance that foretold certain doom for 2011. Maybe that’s a little overdramatic, but it wasn’t promising even if 350 plate appearances spread across 14 years isn’t much of a sample. However, it stood to reason that fewer time spent behind the plate would help keep Jorge fresh and therefore make him more productive at the plate. There were two sides to narrative.

Posada did not get a hit in the first game of the season, but he did reach base three times (a single and two walks) in the second. All was right in the world when Jorge hit two homers in the third game of the season, then another in the fourth game. After a four-game, 15-at-bat hitless streak (eight strikeouts), Posada went deep in each game of a two-game set against the Orioles in mid-April. He homered again nine days later, but that was basically the end of Posada as an effective hitter.

An 0-for-17 stretch followed the two homers against Baltimore, and it took 18 games for Jorge to record his next ten hits. With his batting line sitting at .165/.272/.349 on the morning of May 14th, Joe Girardi penciled Posada in as the number nine hitter against the Red Sox. Insulted by the move, Jorge pulled himself from the lineup and originally covered by saying his back was stiff. He told the Yankees he wanted out out of frustration, but later apologized for the incident. The team never discussed releasing him even though he was in breach of contract.

(AP Photo)

Posada returned to the starting lineup three days later, and promptly went 2-for-3 with a double against the Rays. Another double followed the next day, and Jorge went on a little mini-tear that saw him hit .330/.392/.426 with three homers in 102 plate appearances immediately following the benching. Unfortunately, it didn’t last. He reached base just ten times in his next 56 plate appearances, and with Eric Chavez coming off the DL, Posada lost playing time. From August 1st through the end of the season, a span of 55 team games, he batted just 88 times.

Jorge finished the season with a .235/.315/.398 batting line and 14 homers, easily the worst full season of his career. His .309 wOBA ranked 14th out of the 16 DH’s that came to the plate at least 300 times. Posada did not go down without a fight though, he was the Yankees best hitter in the ALDS (6-for-14 with four walks in five games against the Tigers), the last hurrah for a great Yankee. He threw a base stealer out while catching six emergency innings in a September game against the Angels, and he even played an inning at his original position, second base. Ironically enough, defense was the highlight of his season.

Despite the awful overall performance, Posada did hit right-handed pitchers well, to the tune of .269/.348/.466 in 316 plate appearances. He was completely unusable against southpaws though, hitting .092/.169/.108 in 71 plate appearances. That’s the only reason why he was in the lineup against the Tigers in the ALDS, they started four righties. The Yankees managed to get an almost exactly league average performance out of their DH’s in 2011 (.249/.329/.427), but that’s because Chavez, Andruw Jones, and Jesus Montero helped pick up the slack. Posada, an all-time great Yankee, was part of the problem this past season, almost assuredly his last in pinstripes. The end is almost always painful, and Jorge will be no exception.

References for Sabathia's next contract
What Went Wrong: Alex Rodriguez
  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    It is sad to see Jorge go but we will always remember him as a great Yankee and a great Yankee catcher. Given that too many blows to the head can be very dangerous, the Yankees did a great job of protecting him.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Jorge had a great career but a 3 year contract at age 36 would have been better than a 4 year. Hindsight always 20/20.

    Step aside-it is time for…..

    Hip Hip Jesus!

  • rally beer

    Jorge’s piss poor regular season didn’t cost the Yankees. They had the best record, and even if he put up monster #s they would have entered the playoffs in the exact same position.

    He wiped the 2011 slate clean by being one of the only live bats in the lineup when it mattered.

    • gc

      No he didn’t.

      • Cris Pengiucci

        I’m OK with his season. I look at the positives he provided as a LH DH as well as the awesome post-season he had and can balance that against the 71 RH AB’s and say that over all, given the ending, it is a fitting exit for his Yankee career.

        • gc

          Agreed that this should be the end of Jorge as an active player in a Yankee uniform. He had a great career.

  • the other Steve S.

    He homered again nine days later, but that was basically the end of Posada as an effective hitter.

    followed by

    Jorge went on a little mini-tear that saw him hit .330/.392/.426 with three homers in 102 plate appearances immediately following the benching.


  • CG

    Can you really say that Posada was “part of the problem” when

    1) the yankees had absolutly no problem getting through the regular season and qualifying for the playoffs


    2) Posada was the best hitter in the postseason?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      You absolutely can. He was pretty terrible all season, but it didn’t hurt because the rest of the team was so good. The ALDS isn’t a get out of jail free card, Posada was awful in 2011.

      • Tom O

        It’s kinda like Burnett with Game 2. You have to acknowledge AJ was a huge part of that series, but it doesn’t mean the following two seasons have been good.

    • Rich in NJ

      He should have batted ahead of Swisher in the playoffs.

      Anyway, I think he has something left v. RHP and probably could be a better DH after having gone through a period of transition.

      • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

        Yeah, just imagine if Jorge batted ahead of Swisher in say just Game 5. He would have been up with the bases loaded and two out against Joaquin Benoit. Just imagine if he got a hit in that spot to drive in two.

        Pandemonium in the Bronx!


        • Rich in NJ

          Even if Posada failed, it would have been the right move because Swisher’s approach at the plate batting LH in the playoffs was so poor.

          As bad as Kay is (imo), he is superior to the TBS crew, which is kind of hard to process.

          • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

            My opinion:

            Yes Network [Kay, Singleton, (insert 3rd announcer excluding Flaherty)]>>> TBS crew (Anderson, Smoltz, Darling)>>>>>>>>>>Fox (Buck, McCarver).

  • http://twitter.com/#!/czm93 Craig

    RIP RIP, Jorge (and his career)

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

    I hope he gets a special day of recognition (officially) at the stadium as he deserves.

    I think it’s up to him re next year. If he wants to play, someone will offer him a platoon DH/bench opportunity methinks. Hell depending on roster construction and price ($1mm?) I might not overly mind him on our bench and as a sometimes DH. .

  • virginia yankee

    Posada was a potent hitter – his decline was foreordained by the beating he took behind the plate — he likely would have had HOF stats if the last 3 seasons had been at his career levels but he was robbed of 3 offensive years due to St Joe a front office lunacy —

    — more though i contend great hitters should not catch — pick the ten best offensive catchers of all time who survived to cash 10 seasons and all lost about 5 seasons of productivity over a 15 -20 years career when compared to position players of the same era — the loss of in season productivity and career length where offense falls precipitously — all due to wear and tear behind the plate

    Jorge’s 2009-2010-2011 are all due to age and 2 key injuries that came from his huge workload

    the issue is where to play a guy where other positions are filled — for the yankees this wa nonsense — Posada played SS 2B – he could easily have played 1B or LF – the Yankees had to fill these positions with Mattingly’s decline — as much as Tino to Giambi to Clark et al to Tex – Posada should have been the man — I argue he would have posted a HOF career and the last 3 years would not have been sub par

    The team used one stop gap after another in LF until Matsui —

    who would have played catcher — i don’t know but given the need they would have used someone – at least of the Girardi class —

  • hector

    um just to let you know posada was key in 09′ he hit .285 22 homers 81 rbi, and also i think posada just come back one more season for 2 mil dh/ back up catcher/ back up first. because cervilli has already had 4 head injuries. i think he could back martini up and dh for rights and have montero dh for lefties