2011-01-28 / Sports

The Jorge Posada Myth: An Analysis of a Yankee Catcher

Alex Rodriguez (left) congratulates Jorge Posada after the Yankee catcher belted a two-run homer. Alex Rodriguez (left) congratulates Jorge Posada after the Yankee catcher belted a two-run homer. (Here is part three of the article featured in last week’s Wave)

Members of the media, if they address Jorge Posada’s many defensive shortcomings, advance the argument that he has, as the full-time catcher, helped the Yankees win four World Series Championships and that his offensive ability more than offset his defensive failures. Of course, this would mean that Mussina, Johnson, Cone, Clemens, and “El Duque” were wrong in their assessment of his catching ability. Given the statistics on ERAs and win-loss records cited above, it would also mean he would have to have approximately 150 RBI’s a year before he would begin to show an offensive benefit over any other catcher.

As to the claim that he was the everyday catcher for the Yankees in 1998 and 1999, it has to be taken with the proverbial “grain of salt.” The record shows that, in 1998, Joe Girardi started 76 games for the Yankees, 47% of their games that season. In other words, Posada was the starting catcher in 53% of the games. Girardi and Posada basically split catching duties that year. The same thing occurred in the World Series against San Diego with both catchers starting two games each with two pitchers opting not to pitch to Posada.

Once again in 1999 Posada was not the everyday catcher. He caught a bit more frequently: starting 98 games or 60% of the games while Girardi started 64 games or 40%. In this year Posada hit .245 with 57 RBI’s, hardly the type of offensive numbers that would atone for his defensive liabilities. Once again in the World Series against Atlanta, Girardi and Posada each started two games.

Posada hit .250 with one RBI while Girardi hit .286 with no RBI’s. Clearly Posada did not, in this regular season and World Series, make any contribution to the Yankee World Championship that would even approach the contributions make by Marino Rivera, Derek Jeter or Andy Pettitte. The same can be said for the prior year 1998.

With all the talk by the media for the need to keep Posada’s potent bat in the lineup in post-season series, it is most necessary to note that in six World Series with nearly 100 at bats he has a rather anemic batting average of .219. Likewise this slugging percentage is a lowly .333 for the World Series. In the American League Championship Series his batting average over 45 games was a lowly .224. His proclaimed offensive potency has disappeared when he is in these most important situations.

There are many more examples of the media continuing to promote the Jorge Posada Myth. One show, in considering the best catchers in New York baseball history, chose to exclude Bill Dickey from consideration while including Jorge Posada. Given the fact that Dickey is a Hall of Famer, has a lifetime batting average 38 points higher than Posada, drove in almost 200 more runs in the same number of games, and was an excellent defensive catcher by all accounts, this was another blatant example that facts don’t seem to matter when the creation and promotion of the Jorge Posada Myth is concerned.

Indeed it would appear that Jorge Posada is a very fine human being with many admirable traits. It is also true that before he injured his shoulder, he had a strong arm and had some good, but certainly not great, offensive statistics.

However as a Major League catcher he doesn’t even come at all close to meriting Hall of Fame mention. In similar fashion, he should never be mentioned as an equal or near equal contributor to four Yankee World Championships with Marino Rivera, Derek Jeter, or Andy Pettitte. Simply put, those in the media who are responsible should put those ideas to rest and cease the promotion of the Jorge Posada Myth because to do otherwise is to do a disservice to baseball history.

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