Word trickled out yesterday that long-time Yankees catcher Jorge Posada is set to announce his retirement in the next couple of weeks. Posada won five rings with the Yankees as a member of their 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009 World Championship teams. Discounting the rings, the first conversation that started to be stirred up when word of Posada’s announcement broke was “is he a Hall of Famer?”
There are just 16 catchers in the Hall of Fame, with only three being elected by the writers in the last 30 years: Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, and Gary Carter. Those three are known around the game as three all-time greats at their position. In the last 30 years, Posada is third among all catchers in fWAR, behind just Ivan Rodriguez and Mike Piazza, a pair of players who’s path to Cooperstown appears to be already paved.
But while we’ve established that Posada is one of the best catchers of recent time, where does he fit in all time? In the last 60 years, his 47.6 fWAR ranks 12th all-time, behind Hall of Famers like Bench, Fisk, Carter and Berra. He ranks behind guys who should have gotten more attention for the Hall, like Ted Simmons and Joe Torre. Then, he ranks behind a couple of guys who didn’t even get a sniff, like Lance Parrish and Brian Downing.
Looking purely at offense and completely discounting defense from the equation (where a few of the catchers above Posada in the fWAR rankings get some extra attention), Posada’s .366 wOBA ranks ninth among all catchers in the last 60 years. Some of the names ahead of him are to be expected, like Piazza, Roy Campanella, Berra….and some of them are current players who haven’t hit their decline phase yet, like Joe Mauer and Mike Napoli. But then, there are a couple names that threw me for a loop, like Dick Dietz and Chris Hoiles, who had abbreviated careers but were apparently better overall hitters during their brief tenures in the majors.
Posada might not be a slam dunk Hall of Famer like many of the recently-retired players that immediate start to get love and support from fanbases across the country. But his stats do hold up quite well to catchers all-time. Combine his offense with his four rings, and I think he’ll get in eventually, if not from the writers, then from the Veterans Committee. He was a top three catcher in the last 20 years, and I think that will do him a lot of good at the end of the day. There also haven’t been any steroid rumblings about him, like there have been with Piazza.
Jorge Posada had a career that crept under the radar, and I think that one day, he’ll get his due in Cooperstown. Whether or not it’s deserved is up to you, but I’m in the camp that he deserves to go.