Why was there so little support for Jorge Posada as a Hall of Fame player in this week’s sports press? The most common phrase was “borderline HOFer,” which, as I recall, I’ve even used in this space over the years. But let’s say it: Posada is a Hall of Famer, though perhaps he won’t make it on the first ballot. But he’ll make it.
Because he deserves it. Georgie was the second best catcher in baseball for most of his career, only behind Pudge Rodriguez — if you factor in overall value, probably behind both Pudge and Mike Piazza for several years. But what’s wrong with being the third best player at your position, especially when your position is the hardest to play and the hardest to find a good player for?
On MLB Network Tuesday, Peter Gammons made an excellent case for Posada’s Cooperstown credentials, pointing out that he’s eighth among all career catchers in home runs, seventh in doubles, third in walks, and fifth in on-base percentage.
In fact, only seven other catchers in baseball history have a better OPS — on-base plus slugging average. Doesn’t that pretty much make him one of the 10 best catchers of all time? And if you’re in the top 10 all-time at your position, shouldn’t that be enough to get you into the HOF?
And if that alone doesn’t do it, do four World Series rings, seven American League pennants, and five All-Star teams tip the scale in his favor? Baseball-reference.com compares him to Gaby Harnett, Gary Carter and Bill Dickey – HOFers all.
One more note: A lot of Yankees fans are fond of saying that if Thurmon Munson had lived for another three years, he would have been a Hall of Fame catcher.
Well, let’s compare. Thurmon played in 1423 games, Jorge in 1829. Munson out hit Posada by a wider margin, .292 to .273. But Posada was a much better all-around hitter with 275 home runs to Munson’s 113 and with a .377 OBP and .477 SLG to Munson’s .350 and .410.
Sometimes it isn’t easy to recognize greatness, especially when it isn’t pretty. Jorge Posada played a tough, hard-nosed, and consistent brand of baseball for 17 seasons, and he was one of the 10 best ever at the toughest job in baseball. We may not have known it, but all those years we watched him, we were seeing a Hall of Famer.