Posada Retires — Number Sure To Follow

** Not a shock to see Posada’s number retired.  He was a great Yankee, and ‘The Core Four’ is something we’re unlikely to see in baseball again. **

Originally published January 23rd, 2012

There’s something romantic about the New York Yankees.  I don’t mean in a Derek Jeter signed baseball kind of romantic way… (Google that one if you don’t get the reference – ha-ha)  What I mean is there’s something cool about the tradition and history that a team like the New York Yankees has.  They’re polarizing.  People love them, people hate them.  I can’t think of a single city or ballpark I’ve been in where I haven’t seen at least one Yankees hat, and the Yankees weren’t even in town.  I was in Fairbanks, AK just last week — It’s -37 degrees in the middle of winter and a guy drives by w/3 hats in the window:  Miami Marlins, Baltimore Orioles, and yes, the New York Yankees.  What connects so many fans to one team?  Certainly winning is #1, but #2 is probably tradition.  When Jorge Posada officially retires tomorrow, the Yankees are one step closer to losing the tradition that they’ve established since 1995.

On the surface Jorge Posada doesn’t look like a Hall Of Fame player.  1,600+ hits and less than 300 HR isn’t normally considered a sure-fire bet for the Hall for most position players, but Posada will almost certainly get a pass for a number of reasons.  Posada is one of 5 players w/1,500+ hits, 350 doubles, 275 homers, and 1000 RBIs, while playing half the games behind the plate.  Those are the kind of stats that voters are going to pour over when looking at Posada.  But, it won’t be his hits or runs that are going to be the clincher, it will all come down to postseason experience and overall success.  Some things to consider:

– 4 World Championships

– Caught at least 1 game in 6 different World Series

– 5 Silver Slugger awards

– 5 All Star Appearances

– Top 25 in OBP 6 of 8 years between 2000 and 2007

– Top 25 in RBI 5 of 7 years between 2000 and 2007

– Top 25 in Walks 7 of 8 years between 2000 and 2007

Think about a player like Posada compared to a same-era player in Mark McGwire.  Posada has more hits, but less power.  OBP is 10 points less than McGwire and OPS is 150 points less.  But which of these players is more likely to go into the HOF?  While McGwire played a role in revitalizing the game of baseball, what does he have to show for it?  Jorge Posada’s 6 World Series appearances and 4 rings gives him a boost over a player like Mark McGwire and his 1 ring with Oakland.  That doesn’t mean that Posada was more valuable to his team than Mark McGwire, but in the eyes of voters, his accomplishments are better — and when you look at similar stats vs accomplishments, the scale tips.

I’m happy to see Posada retiring vs moving to another team.  Free Agency has caused so much turnover between teams that it’s made it harder to root for teams outside of a uniform loyalty.  Players like Johnny Damon will be remembered at different points of his career, and every memory will be wearing a different hat.  Look at guys like A-Rod and Texiera, do you remember them as Yankees, or as a Mariner, Ranger, Angel or Brave?  Anyone that loves St Louis will forever remember Pujols as a Cardinal… until he’s an Angel.  How will that change his legacy over time?  (After all, who wanted to see Michael Jordan with the Wizards?)  Certainly Posada is no Jordan, but It’s refreshing and “right” to see a player like Jorge Posada retire as a Yankee.  He’s been a team standard thru their last 16 years, it would have been weird to see him as a fading player in Oakland.

The Yankees are now two players away from an end of an era.  It’s hard to see any of the new breed of Yankees having the same success or legacy that Posada, Rivera, and Jeter have had since 1995, and Posada’s number will undoubtedly join Monument Park’s walkway in the coming years, along w/future monuments for Rivera and Jeter.  In a way, players like Posada, Rivera, and Jeter (regardless of your team allegiance) are the “old” guard in Major League Baseball.  They’re that final step to that new generation of players — and there are some great ones coming!

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