Pettitte, Posada Increasing their Hall Chances

If it were up to me the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown would be filled with nothing but Yankees, but fortunately for everyone else the process is mostly fair.

Two players who have been longtime borderline candidates on the outside looking in, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte, seem to be getting closer to enshrinement these days as they continue to be dominant even as other players their age are fading away.

Joel Sherman of the NY Post wrote about the pair and their hall chances this morning:

Some players hold on and damage their career stats and potentially hurt their Hall-of-Fame candidacies. But Pettitte and Jorge Posada are adding to their borderline arguments.

Pettitte is missing overall greatness. There was probably never a season in his outstanding career in which he was viewed as one of even the five best starters in the game, though he does have five top-six finishes in the Cy Young voting. He just is not a dominant pitcher. His candidacy is will be based on consistency, accumulation and a lot of strong postseason work. But his candidacy also is going to be hurt by his HGH admission. I suspect many voters will not vote for him based on that admission and/or because they believe his usage was far greater than Pettitte has conceded.

Posada already is among the best offensive catchers in history and also has the added value of being a central member of multiple championships. But he also is lacking overall dominance and his defense is going to be a question.

As a voter, I want to see the conclusion of their careers, obviously. But I currently think they both fall just short of the Cooperstown end zone; with Posada a better candidate currently in my mind than Pettitte.

But it is fascinating how many interesting candidates have been part of recent Yankee teams. You have Pettitte and Posada plus Bernie Williams, Johnny Damon, Mike Mussina and Bobby Abreu; and you can probably throw David Wells into the discussion since his overall numbers stack up pretty well against those of Pettitte. I am not sure any of them are getting in (I rank Mussina as having the best chance), but they all have put together the kinds of careers that will make you think seriously about their place in history.

Thoughts: I think Sherman is right, there has been a decently sized group of recent Yankees that are borderline candidates and that includes Posada and Pettitte. As they stand right now they, even to a bias person such as myself, they are still probably on the outside looking in.

But as they go deeper into their careers many players who were one time peers are dropping by the way-side. In the case of Posada, it seems to me that as he goes deeper into his career guys who were once regarded as clearly better, I’m looking at Ivan Rodriguez, now don’t look that much better by comparison. Yes, obviously Pudge was once the much better player, but his offensive skills have long since declined meanwhile Posada is still an important piece of a championship caliber squad. There has to be some value to that.

Like Sherman said, I’d like to see the conclusion of their careers before making a final judgment. Fortunately for their Hall chances, their careers are still going strong even as they are approaching their forties.

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10 Responses to Pettitte, Posada Increasing their Hall Chances

  1. Mike S. says:

    It's funny. Pettitte is now at 231 career wins. But he went to Houston for three years. Say he didn't go to Houston but stayed in NY and did the same as he did in Houston. Same numbers.

    Do you know what you would be looking at? You would be looking at someone on the cusp of becoming the Yankees all-time wins leader. Whitey Ford won 236. Red Ruffing 231. Pettitte is third with 194 as a Yankee.

    I just shake my head. As great as it is being 3rd on the list, had Andy stayed in NY 2004-2006… well, you know.

  2. Brian Burkhart says:

    Sadly, it would probably take 300 wins for Andy to get in the Hall, and he'd have to pitch at least 4 or 5 more seasons, which seems unlikely.

    Posada has a much better candidacy than people seem to realize. He is one of the best offensive catchers of all time.

  3. Will says:

    No way that someone who has been at the bottom, and I am talking bottom 5, defensively at his position for his career should ever get into the Hall. In addition, catcher is a hugely important position on the field and Posada really fails miserably in all aspects. I am a long time Yankee fan so no this is not spam. It is maddening to me that Jorge is being considered. He is everything a catcher should NOT be (on the field). Yes, his offense is great for the position but again, he is sooo poor in all defensive aspects of being a catcher I cannot imagine how he can be considered.

    • Wow, I don't know what Posada you are talking about, but I doubt a team would be able to win even one championship with a catcher that bad.

      Luckily for the Yankees they had a great offensive catcher who was at least proficient defensively throughout his whole career and they won 4 World Championships with him behind the plate.

  4. Will says:

    Check stats on % of runners thrown out, passed balls and errors. He will rank in bottom 5 in MLB for most seasons in the league. To say nothing of his absolute refusual to block the plate and inability to get along with many pitchers, let alone guide them out of any slumps. They won despite him, not because of him. And 'proficient enough' is not what the standard the HOF should be looking for…

  5. Mike S. says:

    Percentage of runners thrown out is not all on the catcher. You may have a rocket for an arm, but not all pitchers have Pettitte's pickoff move. If you have a staff in which no pitcher is good at holding the runner, are you really going to take that out on the catcher? If you watch a game, and the runner has three steps toward second before the ball leaves the pitcher's hand, is that on the catcher? Just saying…

  6. Jason from The Heart says:

    I couldn't disagree more with your assessment of Posada, Will, which I might add is rife with some unfair generalizations about the Yankees' winning "despite him" (sorry, no way) and ranking in the bottom 5 in CS%. This is where reputation and reality unfortunately diverge for some fans.

    On CS%, Jorge threw out 27.9% of runners last season. That was higher than Martinez and Varitek of Boston, Saltalamacchia, Kurt Suzuki, A.J. Pierzynski, Mike Napoli, Matt Wieters, Kelly Shoppach, Gregg Zaun, Mike Redmond, and others.

    In 2007, he threw out 23.9% of runners–better than regular catchers Zaun, Buck, Napoli, Mathis, Suzuki, and Ramon Hernandez.

    In 2006, he threw out 37.3%, better than most of the AL.

    In 2005, he threw out 30.23%, better than regulars Martinez, Pierzynski, Jason Kendall, Varitek, Zaun, and more.

    Note too that Jorge has been working with catching guru Tony Pena during those years of alleged statistical inferiority, with Pena helping especially with technique and footwork.

    Posada has not been a defensive hindrance. Nor has he, in the last several years, ranked in the bottom of the AL, much less MLB–in addition to critical commentary from Rob and Mike above adding important in-game and overall context.

    Lastly, Jorge has had to deal with more staff turnover, due to new pitching acquisitions and injuries, than most catchers in the game. 2004 and 2005, for example, had nearly new staffs, with new styles and moves for Posada to learn and to which to adjust. I'd say he's done admirably and has been an integral part of the team's success in a way that is impossible to ignore, and simply unfair to deny. The guy is a Hall of Famer in my book, and has become ensconced in the greatest catching lineage–with Bill Dickey, Yogi, Elston Howard, and Thurman Munson–in the history of the game. That's saying a lot.

  7. Jason from The Heart says:

    And to add briefly something worth mentioning, which overlaps with Rob's good point about how perspectives of Posada versus, say, Pudge have changed the more they've played, Posada continues to both pile up good numbers and remain a pretty decent defensive catcher at the age of 38, going on 39 this year. That's more than impressive; it's downright rare for catchers to have done so.

  8. Bronx Knight says:

    Since Joel Sherman's post also mentioned Bernie, my all-time favorite Yank, I'll add him to this mix. Bernie is generally considered a borderline candidate: his overall career numbers were very good, he's been the all-time leader in several postseason categories, and he has four rings. But he was never dominant in his position and he didn't play long enough to compile lock-type numbers. On the other hand, James' Hall of Fame Monitor has him at 130, "a virtual cinch."

    Bernie's pride was his undoing. Back in 2007, when Bernie refused to try for a walk-on with the Yanks, the Phillies reportedly offered him a $6M one-year deal, which he refused, saying he would only ever play for the Yanks (or the P.R. national team). Bernie's bat speed was down by then, but he could still hit over .300 from the right hand of the plate. His numbers as they stand are 2,336 hits and 287 HR. IF he could have stuck around for three more seasons (he was fifth outfielder for the excellent P.R. national team in 2009), then he would easily have cleared 2,500 hits and 300 HRs. People like round numbers and I think that would have pushed him over into an eventual HOF slot. But, as it stands, I don't think he makes it (unless MAYBE he is reevaluated in light of PEDs issues weakening or eliminating other ostensibly stronger contemporaries).