How Did Jorge Posada Become A First-Ballot Hall Of Fame Washout?

Photo via Getty
Photo via Getty

Amid the arguing over this year’s Hall of Fame, one of the weirder potential results involves no argument at all. Unless there’s a dramatic and unexpected late break in the voting, Jorge Posada—who as of this afternoon appeared on 10 of 239 known ballots in the ballot tracker—is going to miss the five percent cutoff and be bounced from Hall of Fame consideration in his first year of eligibility.


Did Jorge Posada truly have no Hall of Fame case at all? He wasn’t Johnny Bench, sure. He was, however, a very good player at a valuable position on often-great teams, for a long time. He played 17 years, almost entirely at catcher, and finished with a slash line of .273 / .374 / .474, good for an OPS+ of 121. Twice in his career, despite playing on rosters loaded up with high-priced sluggers, he led all Yankees position players in WAR; in 2000, he was the best player on a championship team.

Catchers have generally struggled to put up counting-stat totals that impress Hall of Fame voters, and Posada’s 275 homers and 1,664 hits are not inherently dazzling. Even so, ballplayers—and, notably, Yankees—have gotten into the Hall with worse numbers on their resumes. For the old-fashioned voter uninterested in positional analytic adjustments, there’s still the matter of his four championship rings to consider.

Yet nobody is considering anything. A core player of the last Yankees dynasty appears to be headed for the one-and-done cull pile with the likes of Shawn Green or Vinny Castilla.

Even if you loathe the Yankees—and by “you,” I mean “I”—it’s a little confounding. By multiple measures of Hall of Fame likelihood, Posada’s chances come out just a bit below the average for enshrinees. Of the 10 players whose careers are rated by Baseball Reference as most similar to Posada’s, four are in the Hall.

Once upon a time, someone with a profile like that would have gotten a decent chunk of votes—nowhere close to the necessary 75 percent, certainly not on the first ballot, but measurable. Enough to come back the next year, and the year after that, while small-Hall and large-Hall partisans used him to make their cases about where the cutoff between very-goodness and greatness should fall.

But this is the crowded-ballot era, where the fights are about steroids and the character clause and which of the accomplishments of the most accomplished players in baseball history are to be regarded as real. When roughly three-quarters of voters are busy saying no to Manny Ramirez, so that they can then explain why they said no to Manny Ramirez, there’s no time left to discuss a mere baseball question like Jorge Posada.