The Jorge Posada Myth: An Analysis of a Yankee Catcher
(Here is part two of the article featured in last week’s Wave)
On the issue of Rodger Clemens pitching to Posada, the facts show that in the two years prior to coming to the Yankees Roger Clemens while in Toronto had an ERA in 1997 of a 2.05 and in 1998 an ERA of 2.65.
He had a combined record of 41 and 13 and won the Cy Young award in the years 1997 and 1998. In his first year pitching to Jorge Posada, his ERA ballooned to 4.60 and for his six year career with the Yankees his ERA was over four. Again when he left the Yankees and went to Houston, his ERA went down substantially to 2.98 in 2004 and 1.87 in 2005.
Even when you recognize that the National League is more “pitcher friendly,” the tremendous detrimental effect on the ERA and performance of Roger Clemens when he was pitching to Jorge Posada cannot be ignored. Posada was always a defensive liability who has consistently hurt the Yankees pitching staff.
Further proof of this is found in examining the activity of David Cone’s Yankee career. David Cone, winner of 194 Major League games and recognized as an intelligent, knowledgeable pitcher opted not to pitch to Posada and instead chose to pitch to Joe Girardi whose offensive numbers certainly are lesser than those of Posada.
You can also add to the list, two other pitchers who fought with or had trouble pitching to Posada, namely “El Duque” Hernandez and A.J. Burnett. When you take a look at this very impressive list of outstanding pitchers (Burnett may be an exception)— Mussina, Cone, Johnson, Clemens, “El Duque”—who recognized and/or suffered from the inadequacy of Posada as a catcher, you really must accept or admit the fact that he, in arguably the most important defensive position in baseball, has consistently done great damage to the performance of the New York Yankees pitching staff and team.
As reported by one of his ardent supporters in the media, Joel Sherman of the New York Post in a May 24, 2009 article, the ERA of the Yankee pitching rotation in 2008 was 3.70 when Jose Molina caught and nearly a run higher at 4.61 when Posada caught. That is an enormous difference, a run a game over a full season, for a team to make up.
In that same article, Sherman confirmed the existence of many off-therecord criticisms by Yankee pitchers of Posada’s game calling intellect and catching ability.
The existence of the continuing unfavorable impact of Posada’s catching on the Yankee staff was revealed again in an article in the New York Times on June 16th, 2009. The statistics in it showed that, even when you removed certain very damaging (to Posada) games from consideration, the ERA of the staff in 2009 when Posada caught was 5.47 while when anyone else was the catcher the staff ERA was 3.81. This disparity is the type of burden that no team or pitching staff should have to carry.
(Part three of the Jorge Posada Myth will be featured in next week’s Wave.)