Is Jorge Posada a Hall of Famer?
But what about Jorge?
Detractors can find many holes in Posada's numbers as an argument against him. One thing they can point to is that he was never a major power source or even a "great" hitter, finishing with a .273 career average and only getting a little more than halfway to the "magical" Hall of Fame numbers of 500 home runs (275) and 3,000 hits (1,664). He also only topped 30 home runs or 100 RBI once - both in 2003 - and his .338 average in 2007 marked the only time he finished the year above even .290.
Jorge also had his detractors defensively. Much maligned, especially in the latter part of his career, was his ability to throw out base runners. In addition, dissenters will cite that he twice led American League catchers in both errors and passed balls and allowed the most stolen bases in the league in 2007.
But when diving deeper inside the numbers, Jorge's case for selection becomes considerably greater, and here are five arguments why.
OFFENSE: Taken against the context of the 13 full-time Major League catchers in the Hall of Fame, Posada's numbers stack up very well.
Of the 13 full-time Major League catchers currently enshrined in Cooperstown, only one has higher totals in all three major categories of batting average, home runs, and RBI - none other than Jorge's most well-known pinstriped predecessor, the one and only Lawrence Peter Berra.
So, numbers-wise anyway, Posada was a better hitter than Johnny Bench, drove in more runs than career .320 hitter Mickey Cochrane, and went yard more often than Dodger great Roy Campanella - who once set the National League single-season record for home runs by a catcher with 41.
In addition, Jorge was a five-time recipient of the Silver Slugger Award, given to the best offensive player at each position every year. In fact, between 1994 and 2003, the only other man to be named AL Silver Slugger was Pudge Rodriguez, and when Posada won it for the final time in 2007, he became the second oldest man (in either league) to earn the honor.
Overall, Posada's totals put him in another special class, as he is one of only five men in MLB history to record at least 1,500 hits, 350 doubles, 275 home runs and 1,000 RBI while playing at least half of his games as a catcher. Three of those four - Bench, Gary Carter, and Carlton Fisk - are in the Hall, and the last is Ivan Rodriguez, who certainly should be someday as well.
His numbers helped make him a five-time All-Star, and also twice helped him finish in the Top 10 in MVP balloting.
DEFENSE: For all the knocks on his defense, Posada certainly held his own.
Posada led AL catchers in putouts for three straight years (2001-03), twice was tops in assists, and also once led the league in number of runners caught stealing. And, in 2008 (the year after he gave up the most stolen bases in the AL), Posada threw out 40 percent of the men who tried to steal on him, good for third best percentage in the league.
Jorge may never have won a Gold Glove, but it's not as if he wasn't more than capable behind the plate.
POSTSEASON SUCCESS: Reggie Jackson is "Mr. October" and Derek Jeter is "Mr. November," but Jorge Posada might just be "Mr. Consistent."
Jorge has caught a record 119 games in the postseason, nearly double the amount Yogi Berra's second-place total of 63, and his 125 total appearances are second only to Derek Jeter. In addition, his totals in postseason hits (125), doubles (23), and RBI (42) rank him fourth, third, and tied for ninth, respectively.
On an individual note, Posada had a few series where he particularly shined. He hit .444 in the epic five-game 2001 ALDS against Oakland (where he also made the tag on Derek Jeter's legendary "flip play"), hit .500 in the 2006 ALDS vs. Detroit, and five years later as the DH, led the team once again with a .429 mark in the 2011 ALDS loss to the Tigers.
DURABILITY: Just about anyone who has ever played baseball will probably agree that catcher is the most demanding position on the diamond, both physically and mentally.
So, for one man to catch at least 133 games over seven straight seasons, he has to be pretty tough in both areas.
Posada certainly is, as from 2000-2007, he was behind the plate for at least 80 percent of the Yankees' contests, leading the league in catching appearances in 2002, 2004, and 2007. When that streak was broken in 2008, it was because of Jorge's first-ever trip to the disabled list after 12 years of catching full-time.
INTANGIBLES: Much of a catcher's job is handling and coordinating the pitching staff, and Posada did that with aplomb. Jorge was behind the plate for 368 of Mariano Rivera's record 602 (and counting) saves, and in his dozen years as the primary backstop, caught five 20-game winners.
That's not to mention that in an interview with YESNetwork.com years ago, David Wells said that as soon as the last out of his perfect game was recorded, his first thoughts were "I have to find Jorge, because that's the guy who made it happen."
So will it happen for Jorge Posada?
When asked that question by Jack Curry during his retirement press conference, Posada said, "that's up to you guys (the BBWAA) ... hopefully we can talk about it in five years."
What do you think?
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