Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jorge Posada and a Couple All-Time Yankees Lists

Jorge Posada's retirement last week got me thinking about where he ranks among players—similar in certain ways—who've also worn the Yankee pinstripes. Of course, this led to one of my favorite little exercises, the creation of a couple short lists, both of which I put together pretty quickly and shared on Twitter. With the benefit of a little further examination, neither of the lists changed. So, I thought I'd write a short post about them as my own way of commemorating the career of one of the Yankees' most important contributors over the past 1 1/2 decades.

The first is the obvious one. Top five all-time Yankees catchers:
  1. Yogi Berra
  2. Bill Dickey
  3. Thurman Munson
  4. Jorge Posada
  5. Elston Howard
I'm not going to spend much time elaborating on this list. Honestly, I don't see that there's much room for argument, particularly when I say both this and the next list are based on each player's time with the Yankees. That is, I didn't just take all players who have played a minimum number of years with the team and consider their entire careers. So, I don't want to hear any Wally Schang arguments from you old-timers, or any Mike Stanley mentions from those a little younger.

OK, so no one was really going to be clamoring for either of those guys, I realize.

I don't think anyone would debate those are clearly the top five catchers in Yankees history. In fact, I think the only thing that's arguable is the relative positioning of Munson and Posada. Since some are saying Posada may be a serious Hall of Fame candidate, and Munson peaked at 15.5% of the vote, it stands to reason many would rank Jorge #3. But, not me.

Maybe it's because I'm a child of the '70s, or because Munson's premature death was one of the two biggest sports heartbreaks of my lifetime. Or, possibly it's because he was the Captain who wouldn't truly be replaced until Jeter, or because I'll take 43 WAR in 10 years over 45 WAR in 15 years (excluding both players' first partial seasons), but to me, Thurman still ranks higher than Jorge.

But, that's all I'm going to say about that. It's the next list that I find a little more interesting. Top five all-time Yankees switch-hitters:
  1. Mickey Mantle
  2. Bernie Williams
  3. Jorge Posada
  4. Roy White
  5. Tom Tresh
There are a couple different ways I could have gone with the basis for this list. I suppose you might infer, since it's a switch-hitters list, that I might be looking only at each player's hitting or total offensive ability. But, I'm more interested in evaluating the player's complete performance, with the fact he's a switch-hitter simply being the only requisite criterion.

Mantle at #1 is even more obvious than #1 on the previous list. I suppose you might argue Posada over Williams, especially given the difficulty of Jorge's position. But, otherwise I think the only debatable point is whether or not to slide Mark Teixeira in at #5, and bump Tresh.

It's a little too early for that, in my opinion. I'm expecting Teixeira will eventually join the list, maybe even push White out of the #4 spot, but that's no sure thing. Right now, though, I'm ranking Tresh's 22.3 WAR in 7+ seasons ahead of Teixeira's 12 WAR in three seasons. Somewhat surprisingly, Nick Swisher's value (11 WAR) over that same time frame comes fairly close to Teixeira's, but given their respective contracts, it's fair to assume Tex will last longer in pinstripes.

So, Posada not only ranks as one of the Yankees' top players of the last 15 years, he also stacks up fairly well in all-time Bronx Bombers discussions. Hall of Famer? I'm not so sure, but he's certainly among the greatest to wear the pinstripes during my lifetime.


  1. And blogger must be acting up. It wouldn't let me comment from my Ball Caps account on Wordpress. This has happened a couple times before. Weird.

  2. Thanks Dan. Not sure what's happening with blogger not allowing you to comments as ballcapsblog, but thanks for putting up with the annoyance and commenting anyway.