Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, and Andy Pettitte of the New York Yankees pose on the pitchers mound after winning the last regular season game at Yankee Stadium 7-3 against the Baltimore Orioles on September 21, 2008 in the Bronx. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Jorge Posada is the second of the core four to retire from Major League Baseball in what is the beginning of the end for a special era in New York Yankees baseball history. With the news of his retirement the question has been asked by some: is Jorge Posada a Hall of Fame player?
Certainly the offensive numbers make an argument that he may be.
His career numbers are very impressive for a catcher.
And his 162-game averages aren't any less impressive:
Posada's numbers will dwarf those of many catchers you will find in previous eras that have been included in the Hall of Fame. There is also no denying what his presence has meant to the Yankees during his illustrious career, and there are too many clutch hits Posada has had to recount them. But is that enough for the Hall of Fame?
No, not to me. He was a great Yankee, but he's not a Hall of Famer. Unlike many, my first inkling about whether or not a player is Hall of Fame worthy does not have anything to do with numbers. It's a feel. Does a player feel like a Hall of Famer?
To very loosely paraphrase a Supreme Court justice on a different subject: I can't define what a Hall of Famer is, but I know it when I see it.
I, for one, believe too many players have been included into the Hall of Fame and that it should be a much more exclusive club than it currently is, I think there is validity to the argument that Posada is a Hall of Famer, but to me he was never, not once, the best player on his team in any given year. Posada was in a lineup that was filled with All-Stars and future Hall of Famers and so he benefited from never having to carry the full load of his team. That's not an absolute measuring stick, but it's a big strike.
The next measuring stick I use for Hall of Fame worthiness is his ability compared to the other players of his position in his career. Here, Posada measures up fairly well. He's long been a terrific hitter, but there was really only a solid four-year stretch where he was ever at the very top of his position. Between 2000 and 2004 Posada won four straight Silver Slugger awards and had four All-Star Game appearances. Very impressive, but not Hall of Fame worthy.
Posada only finished in the top 10 of MVP voting twice, and never higher than third. His Hall of Fame statistics are close to Hall of Fame worthy with his Hall of Fame Monitor number a 98 (likely Hall of Famer is 100) and his Hall of Fame standards a 40 (average HOFer is 50), but they don't quite cut it.
Another reason I don't think Posada is a Hall of Famer is because of his average defense. I am not one who thinks Jeff Kent should be a Hall of Famer. Yes he's a great hitting second basemen, but Kent didn't play enough defense to be a second basemen in my mind. Posada's defense improved throughout his career, but he was never a terrific defensive catcher or game manager at a position where I personally believe defense to be imperative.
But lastly, it really just comes down to knowing it when I see it. And in my heart of hearts Posada doesn't scream Hall of Famer to me, though I'll always appreciate his contributions to the New York Yankees and to many of my favorite childhood baseball memories.