Jorge Posada was New York great and Major League Baseball good. The long-time Yankees catcher who announced his retirement the other day is beloved in the Big Apple and more tepidly admired throughout the rest of the sport. Posada was the type of player whose contributions were especially highly valued in the city where he played, but in the rest of the country is more thought of as a solid player.
Playing in New York, the sometimes fiery, usually gracious Posada had his positive attributes exaggerated. The spotlight shines brighter and more intensely in New York than anywhere else in baseball and since he was a fine player for a long time, that means the city went ga-ga for him. Posada would have been popular in any town he played in, viewed as one of the rocks of the franchise during his lengthy stay. He was a good fit for a Yankees team that won a lot of times during his stay, but I’m not sure how much different the record would have been without him.
Posada was a strong piece of the lineup, but never the No. 1 figure in it. Posada did make five All-Star teams. Again, very good but not great. His lifetime batting average is .273. Good, but not great. He drove in 1,065 runs. Good, but not great. Posada, 40, was a leader with the way he handled pitchers. He will always be identified with a certain time period in Yankee history and for being part of four World Series championship teams during his 17 years with the team. But he didn’t make anyone forget Yogi Berra behind the plate, either.
The native Puerto Rican was known for being a classy representative of the Yankees and he sometimes offered the kick in the butt to his teammates if he felt they were sloughing off. Compared to other catchers of his era he hit well, also clouting 275 home runs overall. He also won five Silver Slugger Awards as the best hitter at his position.
Still, like some other recent Yankee stars who enjoyed long careers and were multiple-time All-Stars, Posada’s overall record of accomplishment is not good enough to make him a Hall of Fame selection. Don Mattingly has been on the ballot for years and he has never come close to receiving the 75 percent of the annual vote necessary to be chosen. Similarly, one of Posada’s former teammates, outfielder Bernie Williams, has now reached the ballot, but did not muster much more support than being allowed to stay on for another crack.
Posada will run into the same type of situation. In five years he will be nominated for the ballot, but won’t ever get more than 20 percent of the vote.
One thing that could that is if Posada goes into managing–as some think he has the capability of doing–and becomes an All-Star field boss, too.