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Two examples of Jorge Posada being underrated

Jan 23, 2012, 12:44 PM EDT

posada wide getty Getty Images

Amid news that Jorge Posada is planning to retire I’ve written a couple times recently that he’s underrated, in part because catchers in general tend to be undervalued and in part because Posada specifically has been in the shadow of various other Yankees stars.

Some readers scoffed at the notion of Posada being underrated, but Astros beat reporter Brian McTaggart just provided an example of what I’m talking about:

And then, in response to McTaggart’s tweet, Atlanta Journal Constitution Braves beat reporter David O’Brien replied:

(O’Brien went on to say about Posada: “If not a Yankee he’s not even mentioned as HOF possibility.”)

I tend to think Posada is a borderline Hall of Famer, but the notion that he’s on par with Ken Singleton and clearly behind Fred McGriff is exactly what I was talking about in terms of his being underrated.

Among all the catchers in baseball history Posada is 12th in Wins Above Replacement. McGriff is 19th among first basemen and Singleton is 102nd among outfielders. WAR isn’t the final word on anything and there’s also certainly room to quibble with those numbers one way or another, but you get the idea.

  1. thefalcon123 - Jan 23, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    Using fangraphs WAR (because their customized leaderboards are freer than Baseball Reference’s), Posada ranks 15th all time in WAR for catchers (though he ranks behind Brian Downing and Joe Torre who only spent 30% and 40% of their career behind the plate).

    I wouldn’t put him in, but I wouldn’t throw a fit if the made it. He had an excellent career and fits in with a lot of guys whose hall candidacy gets debated.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 23, 2012 at 1:22 PM

      I often wonder how his career would have turned out if he were the full time starter earlier than age 28. Splitting all that time with Girardi probably extended his career*, but would he have even better numbers before catching wore him down?

      *for instance, highly doubt he puts up a .338/.426/.543 line at age 35

    • 78mu - Jan 23, 2012 at 1:33 PM

      Baseball Reference does list him after Matt Williams and right ahead of Singleton and Frehann as a hitter. So I think that’s where the Singleton comparison comes from.

      Unless my eyes deceived me I don’t think Posada was better than Freehan defensively. Freehan won a few GG so at least he had the reputation of being good at defense.

      Putting Posada in the HoF would make Jack Morris look like a first ballot Hall of Famer.

      • The Dangerous Mabry - Jan 23, 2012 at 1:46 PM

        Freehan is certainly a more relevant comparison, because Singleton was a corner outfielder, not a catcher. And if anyone tells you they expect the same offensive performance from a catcher that they do from a corner outfielder, I’ll point out that Johnny Bench and Jim Wynn had pretty similar offensive careers, and there’s nobody saying Bench doesn’t belong in the hall, while Jim Wynn got himself exactly zero votes.

        That’s not to say Jorge is anything like a slam dunk HOF guy, but the fact that Posada compares favorably to Singleton on offense only makes him look better if you ask me, given that he played the much more difficult (and physically debilitating) defensive position.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 23, 2012 at 1:54 PM

        Putting Posada in the HoF would make Jack Morris look like a first ballot Hall of Famer.

        Whaaaat? How so?

      • paperlions - Jan 23, 2012 at 2:13 PM

        You have that backwards….putting Jack Morris in the HOF would make Posada (and dozens of other guys that aren’t in the HOF) look like first ballot HOFers.

  2. wlschneider09 - Jan 23, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    I think catcher is the position least fairly represented by WAR. There’s no room in WAR to quantify all of the impacts a catcher has on the defensive side of the game.

    • paperlions - Jan 23, 2012 at 2:16 PM

      People actually recognize this deficiency (as well as the deficiency of defense metrics to properly evaluate 1B), it is just that no one has come up with a reliable/acceptable way to make those estimates better, yet….each case provides difficulties not associated with other positions on the field.

      • wlschneider09 - Jan 23, 2012 at 3:12 PM

        I’m not on the anti-SABR here, I recognize WAR for the information it provides. I was merely trying to 1) comment on the difficulty of applying a generalized statistic to catchers, and 2) comment on the difficulty of comparing catchers to other catchers, let alone to other position players.

      • paperlions - Jan 23, 2012 at 3:26 PM

        Understood. I didn’t mean it to come of as antagonistic….just providing some info…hopefully, these deficiencies will be addressed in the next few years….the problem is testing any tweaks in an unbiased fashion.

    • Detroit Michael - Jan 23, 2012 at 3:39 PM

      I agree with wlschneider09 that WAR does not quantify (yet anyway) all of the defensive contributions of a catcher. There is plenty of reason to believe that once we get pitch blocking and pitch framing and pitch calling skills into WAR, Jorge Posada will cease to be a borderline Hall of Fame case to a clear Hall of Very Good player.

    • explodet - Jan 23, 2012 at 8:01 PM

      Honestly, quantifying catcher defense more thoroughly would probably only hurt Posada’s case.

  3. yankeesgameday - Jan 23, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    I’ve said it several times: the best place for Posada’a bust is in Monument Park, not Cooperstown. Put it out in Centerfield where the people who he meant the most to, and whom care the most about his legacy, can pay him the respect he deserves from Yankee fans.

  4. buffalomafia - Jan 23, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    I agree with Yankeesgameday! Very well said! Salute’!

  5. bozosforall - Jan 23, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    If Jim Rice got in as a sub-par fielder, then Posada should at least be in the conversation. Rice’s induction lowered the bar significantly.

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