Jorge Posada: Is former New York Yankees catcher Hall of Fame worthy?

Jorge Posada is most similar to Brian McCann, per Baseball-Reference.com’s similarity scores. (Wikipedia).

Always overshadowed by bigger names like Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez during his career, one still has to wonder—did Jorge Posada do enough to earn eventual Hall of Fame induction? His performance on the ballot (3.8% in 2018) suggests he didn’t, but there’s always two sides to every story …

I debate myself to find out.

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

Over the course of his career, Posada hit 275 home runs, drove in 1,065 runs and made five All-Star teams. He won five Silver Sluggers and even finished in the top-ten in MVP voting twice, placing as high as third in the balloting.

His 275 home runs are eighth-most among catchers all-time, while his 1,065 RBI are 11th.

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

While his home run and RBI totals are impressive, there are other catchers who had greater totals who are not yet in the Hall of Fame. Lance Parrish, for example, hit 324 home runs and had 1,070 RBI and he received only 1.7% of the vote in his only year of eligibility.

And Brian McCann, he finished with 289 home runs and only slightly fewer RBI, at 1,018. Even with his seven All-Star selections and six Silver Sluggers, is anyone clamoring for his induction?

Ted Simmons had slightly fewer home runs with 248, but he had over 300 more RBI—and he eclipsed the 2,000 hit milestone, which is something Posada never did. Yet Simmons received less than 4% of the vote in his lone year on the ballot. Though he was was eventually elected by the Veterans Committee in 2020, his long wait indicates Posada and Posada-esque backstops are pushed to the back of the line in Hall of Fame circles.

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

That may be true, but every other catcher with at least 275 career home runs is in the Hall of Fame. The club includes Ivan Rodriguez (311 home runs), Gary Carter (324), Yogi Berra (358), Carlton Fisk (376), Johnny Bench (389) and Mike Piazza (427).

And outside of Parrish and Simmons, every other catcher with at least 1,065 RBI is in the Hall, or will be heading there, too. That club includes all the aforementioned catchers, plus Gabby Hartnett (1,179 RBI) and Bill Dickey (1,209 RBI).

In addition, Posada has the accolades to his name. Five All-Star selections and five Silver Sluggers is nothing to sneeze at.

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

Good point, however you might notice one thing about all those home run hitting catchers you just mentioned—they each eclipsed 300 home runs, which Posada did not do.

I know in this advanced world of sabermetrics, milestones don’t mean as much, but there are still milestone-minded voters out there and not reaching a mark like 300 home runs (or 2,000 hits) will hurt Posada’s chances of election.

To counter another point, I’m going to invoke the “if X is not in the Hall, then Posada should not be in the Hall, either” argument again.

You mentioned that Posada was an All-Star five times. That’s very good. But what if I said that Elston Howard was an All-Star 12 times and is not in the Hall? Or that Bill Freehan and Del Crandall were All-Stars 11 times each, and have yet to be enshrined?

Fellow Yankee catcher Elston Howard made 12 All-Star Games and isn’t in the Hall of Fame. (Wikipedia).

And, I might add, Lance Parrish won six Silver Sluggers, one-upping Posada.

Yes! Posada Is a Hall of Famer!

Pardon my multi-faceted response here, see if you can keep up. I recognize that Posada never reached any major milestones, however like you said—we are in a more sabermetric era, rightly or wrongly, which means milestones seem to have less and less bearing. By the time Posada is eligible for the Veterans Committee, they may be lent even less credence than they are now.

And in regards to Howard, Freehan and Crandall—while they were All-Stars frequently, they were never the offensive force Posada was. Each of them had offensive Wins Above Replacement less than Posada, per Baseball-Reference.com.

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

What about the point about Lance Parrish? I’ll rebut the rest in a moment.

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

You bring up Lance Parrish again—I recognize that Parrish was a great player, but even though he had total statistics higher than Posada, does that necessarily make him better than Posada? Or did Parrish just acquire those extra counting numbers because he played longer than the Yankees catcher?

Look at their 162-game averages. Posada averaged 24 home runs and 94 RBI per 162 games, while Parrish averaged 26 home runs and 87 RBI. Plus Posada had a better batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. And OPS. And OPS+.

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

All right, all right. This isn’t an argument about whether Posada is better or worse than Lance Parrish, it’s an argument about whether Posada is a Hall of Fame-caliber player.

Let’s look at Posada through a sabermetric lens, real quick, since you brought that point up earlier. You said that Posada had higher offensive WARs than Howard, Freehan and Crandall, which is true.

Posada’s total WAR, per Baseball-Reference, is 42.7—a number that is relatively low … and that is bested by fellow catcher Gene Tenace, someone I have rarely seen on anyone’s Hall of Fame radar.

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

First, Gene Tenace spent almost half his career at first base.

More to the point: Yes, his WAR would be relatively low if he hadn’t spent his career as a catcher. But among catchers, his WAR is the 14th best all-time. And once again, while he is bested by a few non-Hall of Famers, all the rest of the players than are better than him are in the Hall of Fame.

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

You keep using Posada’s career statistics as the baseline, the bottom limit, that catchers have to meet to be “Hall of Fame worthy.” But unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily mean Posada is a Hall of Famer—it just makes him the worst of the best.

Which basically means that if Posada were to be elected, he would be among the bottom-rung of Hall of Fame catchers, with guys like Rick Ferrell (who, by the way, was an All-Star two more times than Posada).

Would Posada be any better a choice than, say, Rick Ferrell—often considered the worst catcher in the Hall? (Wikipedia).

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

Going by raw counting stats that may appear to be the case, but looking at more sabermetric values like WAR and OPS+, that is clearly not so. (Plus, Posada was a better power hitter than Ferrell and also bested Ferrell in slugging percentage and OPS).

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

You also mentioned earlier that Posada was a better offensive force than Freehan, Crandall and Howard, but that point can easily be countered by the fact that those three were better defensively than Posada. Combined, they won 11 Gold Gloves. Posada won zero. And catcher has historically been a defense-first position.

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

Accolades, while helpful, don’t mean everything. You must also take into consideration Posada’s postseason performance. He appeared in 125 playoff games and won four World Series rings. He hit .333 or better in five series and hit 11 home runs in his postseason career.

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

World Series victories are very team-dependent—while the number of rings looks nice, it really isn’t a great way of determining someone’s Hall of Fame worthiness.

And, as a whole, Posada hit only .248 and slugged .387 in his postseason career.

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

Okay, well, Posada also has the benefit of playing for one team his entire career—and what a team it was! The New York Yankees! It’s not often a player sticks around with a single team anymore, and to play so long for the Yankees helps his case too—there is something of an allure to the “Yankees mystique.”

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

Is that all? He played for a popular team? While a pro-Yankee bias might have helped players earn election into Cooperstown, it doesn’t mean they were good enough for the Hall, it’s just that the writers had an affinity for them that extended beyond those guys’ playing abilities. The voters’ inability to judge past players unobjectively shouldn’t effect whether a player should get into the Hall of Fame.

Therefore, I can say with certainty now:

NO! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

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