Jorge Posada probably wasn’t ever going to be a Hall of Famer. But it’s still disappointing to see the New York Yankees catcher fall off the ballot after only one year.
The annual voting results for the National Baseball Hall of Fame generate countless storylines. They run the gamut between jubilation for the players elected for induction, to disappointment and debate concerning those who came up just short. Often forgotten are the names that quietly fall off the ballot after not garnering at least five percent of the vote.
This year, former New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada was eliminated from further consideration in his first year of eligibility, appearing on only 3.8 percent of ballots (17 votes). Now, even the most ardent Yankees fan would have had to admit that Posada’s induction was always a long shot. However, a one-and-done appearance on the ballot seems far too unceremonious for a player who was a rather underappreciated cog on one of the most successful teams in baseball history.
Posada’s career numbers don’t necessarily jump out at you. Over 17 big league seasons, he owns a .273/.374/.474 slash line with 275 home runs and 1,065 RBI. But when you place him into the historical context of his position, his case for enshrinement suddenly begins to take shape. As Call to the Pen’s own Jason Evans pointed out, Posada’s career 42.7 bWAR is 10 runs below the average for Hall of Fame catchers. Off the mark, perhaps, but certainly in the neighborhood.
When you’re talking about the best offensive catchers in the history of the game, Posada deserves a place in the conversation. He is eighth all-time among catchers in home runs, 12th in RBI and fifth with an .848 OPS. His OPS is actually .018 points higher than Yankees legend Yogi Berra‘s. While that doesn’t mean an automatic ticket to Cooperstown, it also doesn’t paint the picture of a player worth only one year on the Hall of Fame ballot.
So why did such an overwhelming majority of voters snub Posada? There are a variety of possible reasons, few of which have anything to do with any sort of conscious effort on the part of the writers. Though a member of the Yankees’ homegrown “Core Fore,” his wasn’t always the most prominent face on those dynastic teams of the late 90s and 2000s. Which seems a bit unfair since he averaged a .283/.389/.492 slash line with 23 homers and 90 RBI per season from 2000 to 2007. At a position not typically known for offense, Posada was a reliable force in the lineup over an extended period. All while manning the most physically unforgiving spot on the field.
Nevertheless, it’s easy for even the most talented players to be overshadowed by the likes of Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. (And there’s no shame in that.) In fact, some voters, anticipating the surefire inductions of those two over the next few years, may have felt that the Yankees would be getting their due in Cooperstown in relatively short order. As a result, Posada may not have received as much consideration as he would have otherwise.
With the ongoing controversy surrounding alleged steroid users, the ballot has also started to feel a bit crowded. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have gradually clawed their way back from the brink as some voters’ feelings toward PEDs begin to thaw. Both received over 50 percent of the vote for the first time this year. As writers continue to mull them over year after year, it’s become easier for players like Posada to get lost in the shuffle.
If you ask Jorge Posada, he will probably tell you that he would much rather have his five World Series rings than a spot in Cooperstown. But for even the most team-minded players, there is something special about being honored and immortalized for your individual achievements. Posada wasn’t likely going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in the end, but such a fleeting appearance on the ballot simply doesn’t do him or his career justice.