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Is Jorge Posada a Hall of Famer?

Jorge Posada (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Jorge Posada (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The 2017 National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees are being announced on January 18. There are 34 candidates eligible to receive baseballs highest honor this year.

For a while now, the ballot has been loaded with talent due to the divide in the baseball writer’s opinions of how to handle the Steroid Era. Not to mention the players joining the ballot for the first time are big names, such as Vladimir Guerrero, Ivan Rodriguez, and Manny Ramirez. The first member of the Yankees “Core Four” to retire, Jorge Posada, joins this list of first timers and he is undoubtedly being overlooked.

The powerful switch-hitting catcher was a key cog in the Yankees dynasty of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Catchers are known to be leaders on the field and Posada exemplified this. His play was filled with fire and passion, and while players like Derek Jeter, Paul O’Neill and Bernie Williams may have gotten the most attention, Jorge could have been considered the most valuable presence on the field.

It takes a special player to have the ability to hit 30 home runs as a switch hitter, catch on a daily basis, and have the smarts to be able to call a great game. He has many numbers that are comparable to Hall of Fame catchers and numerous accomplishments and accolades that others have never attained.

One accomplishment that any catcher would be proud of and Jorge Posada is especially proud of is being behind the plate to call David Wells’ perfect game on May 17, 1998.  Wells and Posada were on the same page for pretty much every signal Jorge put down and the end result showcased that.

Despite not being known for his defensive prowess, Posada was not a slouch behind the plate. You cannot be a Major League catcher for parts of 17 seasons, if you are a hindrance at your position. I’m sure defensive metrics would annihilate this statistic, but Jorge Posada finished with a better career fielding percentage as a catcher than none other than Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez.

Jorge’s many other achievements include being a part of five American League All-Star teams, winning five Silver Slugger Awards and being a part of five World Series championship teams. The Yankees even retired his number in Monument Park on April 22, 2015, which was indeed a thrill for him. His plaque was placed right by Yogi Berra’s, whom he admired, considered a mentor and loved dearly. Jorge also showed up when the lights shined brightest.

He is in the top 5 or top 10 in many postseason categories, such as games played, at-bats, plate appearances, runs scored, hits, total bases, doubles, RBI and walks.

Posada shined in many moments, but he will forever be remembered by Yankee fans for his tag on Jeremy Giambi during the iconic “Flip” play in game 3 of the 2002 ALDS, and his clutch, game tying 2-RBI double in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.

In 17 seasons with the Yankees he caught 1,574 games, and for the majority of his career he had a great throwing arm. In 1998 he even finished 3rd in caught stealing percentage. Of course, Ivan Rodriguez finished 1st. Despite not getting the attention Rodriguez or Mike Piazza received, Posada was every bit as good offensively as his contemporaries.

He became a full time starter in 2000 and from 2000-2011 no catcher in baseball had more home runs or RBI.

There are only 12 catchers in the Hall of Fame and here is how Jorge stacks up against all catchers since 1901.

He was a dominant player in the Steroid Era and was not once mentioned in any steroid allegations. Mike Piazza was inducted last year, but waited a couple of years amid suspicions of steroid use. Ivan Rodriguez was once asked if his name was on the infamous 2003 Major League Baseball steroid list and his response was, “Only God knows”. Jose Canseco also alleged that Rodriguez used performance-enhancing drugs. These suspicions and accusations have fallen under the character clause in hall of fame voting. These writers take this into account when deciding a player does not belong in Cooperstown, but it does not seem that they take it into account when a player is a good person.

Jorge Posada is a high character man and his off the field philanthropy should stand out to voters. Posada’s son was born with craniosynostosis, which impacts the growth pattern of the skull. As a result, Jorge founded the Jorge Posada Foundation, which is involved in research for this condition. This foundation also provides financial assistance for medical costs to children in need.

There are some voters who won’t vote for Posada this year for a variety of reasons. Most notably, players like Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Gary Sheffield, who have been left in limbo due to their steroid connections, take votes away from a player like Posada.

Out of the 34 candidates the baseball writers can only vote for 10. That is especially tough with the lingering Steroid Era candidates because a case can be made for close to 20 players on the ballot this year. 5% of the vote is needed to stay on the ballot for the following year. That leaves players like Jorge Posada vulnerable to not being selected, or simply falling off the ballot entirely. The logjam needs to clear up for Posada to have a better chance.

I also feel Posada is sometimes forgotten in the mix of great Yankee hitters during his time. He was a constant for a Yankees team that seemed to always add a big free agent to the lineup, forcing Posada to hit 5th or 6th in the order. He also played in an era with Mike Piazza, who is arguably the best offensive catcher in the history of baseball and Ivan Rodriguez who might be the best defensive catcher ever. These two always seemed to leave Posada in 3rd place amongst catchers in their era.

2017 is an exciting year for the Hall of Fame. I believe Posada will be a member of the Hall of Fame one day, but not in 2017. I think the stacked ballot takes away a lot of votes that would go Jorge’s way. The numbers do not lie and he is one of the best offensive catchers in the history of baseball. Also, when you examine his postseason resume and other accomplishments, he does not seem like a borderline candidate to me, but a lock.

All in all, it will take Jorge a while to get in, but maybe it is for the best. That leaves the possibility of him being inducted with Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera, and we all know they love doing things together or as a group. The Core Four have conquered it all and the last step in their conquest is the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

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Spencer is the New York Yankees Lead Writer for
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