Whenever an elite player announces his retirement, one of my first thoughts is whether said player is a Hall of Famer. That was certainly the case on Saturday, as news broke that Jorge Posada has decided to hang up his cleats.
A few minutes of musing typically yields a firm answer, but I remained on the fence about Posada. A quick poll of my Twitter followers also elicited mixed results. The seven replies included one “yes,” one “no,” and five answers suggesting that he deserves to stay on the ballot for several years, but may not ultimately be worthy of enshrinement.
Posada is not one of the best catchers in baseball history. He is not in the class of Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench, and Mickey Cochrane. But with a career triple slash of .273/.374/.474 at a position where offense is often secondary, Posada should rank among the top 15 or 20 backstops to ever play the game.
Drafted as a second baseman before moving behind the plate, Posada was never a plus defensive catcher, though he was a solid thrower; he gunned down 28 percent of opposing basestealers during his career. Posada does not measure up offensively to Mike Piazza—his counterpart with the Mets from 1999-2005—but he also does not have the steroid baggage that may ultimately plague Piazza’s candidacy.
A five-time All-Star and Silver Slugger Award winner, Posada may benefit from context as well. He was a key contributor to four World Series championship teams, a member of the Yankees’ Core Four, and a strong successor to the legacy of Berra, Bill Dickey, and Thurman Munson.
Is that enough to send Posada to Cooperstown? His credentials are solid overall, but he lacks that one factor to push him beyond the Hall of Very Good. My view on Cooperstown values exclusivity, a “when in doubt, don’t vote” approach. With that in mind, Posada does not quite make my cut.